“American Idol” has finally come to an end, marking the end of our childhood. The singing competition television show began in 2002 and lasted for 15 seasons on FOX. It has had many notable contestants, including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, while others have not been as successful. Where are these contestants now?
Story by Angela Bonilla
Justin Guarini was the runner-up to Kelly Clarkson in the first season of American Idol in 2002. Guarini and Clarkson both starred in the romantic comedy “From Justin to Kelly,” also known as one of the “worst movies made.” After the American Idol, Guarini appeared on Broadway shows including “Wicked,” “Rent” and “American Idiot.” Recently, he returned to television screens in Dr. Pepper commercials as “Lil’ Sweet.”
Clay Aiken was the runner-up for Idol in 2003. He lost by a small margin to Ruben Studdard. After “Idol,” Aiken released albums and created his own non-profit, National Inclusion Project, which aims to build a bridge between young people with disabilities and the world around them. In 2008, Aiken became a father to a baby boy named Parker Foster Aiken with Jaymes Foster. In 2014, Aiken was the Congressional Democratic candidate for North Carolina’s 2nd District, but lost the election. Aiken’s interest in running for Congress stemmed from his desire to “represent all people,” even if they didn’t vote for him.
Taylor Hicks was the winner of season 5 in 2006, when the most successful contestant of the season was Chris Daughtry. In 2012, Hicks became the first ever Idol winner to have a one-year residency in Las Vegas. Hicks, fellow “Idol” alum, Clay Aiken and Ashanti appeared in “Law & Order: SVU” in 2013. Recently, it was announced that Hicks would host a show on food and travel.
The nation fell in love with the adorable 16-year-old David Archuleta during season 7 in 2008. After being on “Idol”, Archuleta released many albums which had the hit song “Crush.” He even appeared in the Disney Channel show "Hannah Montana." In 2011, Archuleta announced that he was called to serve on a two-year mission trip with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Chile. He also performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 2012. Archuleta has been touring to promote his new music and is recording an album while working with the Latter-Day Saints Church.
While the runner-up, Adam Lambert, is the more popular “Idol” alum, Kris Allen, the winner, is still making music and touring. Kris Allen and his wife have a son and recently announced that they are expecting another child. Allen’s songs have been featured in shows such as “Arrow” and “The Vampire Diaries.” In 2012, Kris Allen auditioned for the movie, “Rock of Ages,” but lost the role to Diego Boneta.
Jessica Sanchez appeared in season 11. She was the runner-up to the winner, Philip Philips. Sanchez also appeared in the fourth season of show, “Glee” where she played the role of Frida and sang “Clarity” and “Wings.” Recently, Sanchez joined the world of YouTube and has posted covers of songs including “Drunk In Love.” She has also collaborated with Leroy Sanchez, a YouTube music sensation. In interviews, Sanchez said she is working on a “gritty” and “soulful” new album.
While many contestants have come and gone on “American Idol,” the show and its interesting contestants will be remembered by anyone who watched it.