The Best Contestants to Ever Exist on ‘American Idol’

American Idol may not be as good as it was in the old days, but they did have some memorable contestants over the years. We have the people that should’ve gone further in the competition, the ones that are doing well post-Idol career-wise, and we have those people that need recognition because they’re too good not to mention. So for today’s post, I’ll be listing the top ten best contestants that ever came off American Idol!

10. David Archuleta from Season 7

Who can forget little David Archuleta?!?!? His version of “Imagine” by John Lennon was one of the best American Idol performances in history! A big hit with the ladies, Archuleta was only 16-years-old when he auditioned, and he turned 17 on the show. He was runner-up to David Cook on the seventh season, the battle of the Davids. After American Idol, Archuleta maintained a singing career and took a shot at acting by appearing on iCarly and Hannah Montana.

9. Carrie Underwood from Season 4

Carrie Underwood is pretty low on the list, but at least she made it. Underwood rose to fame after winning the fourth season on American Idol. Next to Kelly Clarkson, she’s probably one of Idol’s best winners ever! “Before He Cheats” is such a banger and a great breakup song to blast in your car. Altogether, she has sold 70 million records worldwide. 

8. Katie Stevens from Season 9

On the ninth season, Katie Stevens came in eighth place, following a double elimination due to the judges using their save the previous week. After Idol, she made a career in acting by starring in one of my favorite TV shows, playing Karma on Faking It (2014-2016), and now she plays Jane on The Bold Type (2017-present). I’m still grieving the loss of Faking It because Karma and Amy were supposed to end up together, but at least Stevens married her sweetheart in real life!

7. Lazaro Arbos from Season 12

Thank goodness one good thing came out of season 12. Lazaro Arbos touched us all by sharing his story when he auditioned in Chicago. Originally from Cuba, he moved to Florida when he was 10. When Arbos was 6, he started stuttering, and it got worse when he arrived in the states. The speech therapy didn’t work, and since he couldn’t talk, you’d think he wouldn’t be able to sing, right? WRONG!!!! He proved us all wrong by showing off his angelic voice. Arbos came in sixth place that season.

6. Amanda Overmyer from Season 7

Are you surprised that there’s more than one contestant from season 7 on this list?!?! Well, season 7 and 10 had some of my favorite Idol contestants, so don’t be too shocked. Amanda Overmyer was different; she was a biker girl that sang rock ‘n’ roll! Besides another contestant on this list, she’s the reason why I watched that season. Unfortunately, Overmyer ended up in eleventh place on the show. She continued music afterward, but she hasn’t done much since 2014. I hope she does more stuff because she had a killer blues-rock voice.

5. Chris Daughtry from Season 5

He’s the reason why “Wanted Dead or Alive” has been stuck in my head for years. I’ve read comments on YouTube from people saying they stopped watching American Idol after Chris Daughtry got eliminated, which I don’t blame them. But coming in fourth place on the fifth season is not bad. Even though he didn’t win, people knew he was going to do big things afterward. “Home” and “What About Now” are the big ones for me, but to date, he sold over nine million albums and over 25.6 million digital tracks in the U.S., so he’s doing alright. Did I mention he was on the second season of The Masked Singer as well?!?!

4. Kelly Clarkson from Season 1

What made Kelly Clarkson so memorable was that she remained as the same down-to-earth and bubbly girl she was when she first auditioned and kicked everyone’s a** in the first season. I still get chills hearing her voice. Clarkson was a part of my childhood. From “Breakaway” to “Since U Been Gone,” to “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” to “My Life Would Suck Without You,” to that incredibly weird movie titled, From Justin to Kelly (2003). She was also a guest star on Reba (2001-2007), which was a miracle made in heaven because she was so cute! By the way, watch her talk show; it’s epic!

3. Adam Lambert from Season 8

I’ll state the facts. Adam Lambert was runner-up to Kris Allen on the eighth season of Idol. He released four studio albums since 2009. In 2012, Lambert guest-starred on Pretty Little Liars, and from 2013-2014, guest-starred Glee. His voice is out-of-this-world, and he was my favorite from that season. He’s now the lead vocalist for the legendary rock band, Queen (since 2011). So I think he’s doing well, don’t you think?!?!?

2. James Durbin from Season 10

THE POWER OF JAMES DURBIN!!!! I love this guy. I got my love for rock music thanks to him, and my first taste of Judas Priest; thank you very much! I fell in love with him after hearing his story of how he got diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and Asperger syndrome shortly after his father passed away at age nine. Then he opened his mouth, and I got hooked. Week after week, Durbin blew me away with his high-pitched screams, his stage presence, outrageous performances, his love for heavy metal, and who could forget the tail?!?!

Since coming in fourth place on the tenth season, he released four studio albums since 2011 (“Stand Up” is such a banger), and he was the lead singer of Quiet Riot from 2017-2019.

1. Danny Noriega from Season 7

WHY DID DANNY HAVE TO GET ELIMINATED?!?!? Danny Noriega had everything Idol needed: the hair, the attitude, the voice, the personality, and the star quality. Unlike the previous contestants on this list, Noriega made it to the semifinals but got cut right before the finals. I still despise Chikezie to this day for stealing Noriega’s spot in the top 12. As a blooming 9-year-old, I’d rewatch the VHS tapes of Hollywood week and the semifinals over and over again; that’s how obsessed I was with him. His comebacks towards Simon Cowell were priceless. I think I became the Queen of sass, thanks to Noriega. I never got over his elimination, and to this day, I’m still upset about it.

Since Idol, Noriega became a contestant on the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, placing in the final three. He appeared under the stage persona of Adore Delano. Since 2014, Delano has released three studio albums and plans to release her fourth one later in 2020. Danny Noriega, if you’re reading this, I love you, and we should totally go shopping together one day because I need your wardrobe!

I hope you enjoyed my little American Idol rant. Let me know in the comments below who your favorite American Idol contestant was!

Take care and see ya real soon!


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