Just two years after it was cancelled by FOX, “American Idol” returns to ABC on March 11. When this reality competition series hit the airwaves back in 2002, it was a ratings smash, and many of its early winners enjoyed huge success. Indeed, its first-ever champ, Kelly Clarkson, has won three Grammys and parlayed her fame into a string of hit records and a new gig as a judge on the competition, NBC’s’ “The Voice.”
However, many of the more recent music newcomers to be named “American Idol” have found that their time in the spotlight is fleeting. In the photo gallery above, we take a look back at the first 15 “American Idol” winners to date and see how many have been lucky so far and which have been jinxed.
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Season 1: Kelly Clarkson
Won: Sept. 4, 2002
Runner-up: Justin Guarini
Winning Song: “A Moment Like This”
Now: This three-time Grammy winner has released eight studio albums and is now a judge on NBC’s reality-competition series “The Voice.”
Season 2: Ruben Studdard
Won: May 21, 2003
Runner-up: Clay Aiken
Winning Song: “Flying Without Wings”
Now: He has released six studio albums, including his platinum-selling debut, “Soulful,” and the top-selling gospel follow-up, “I Need an Angel.”
Season 3: Fantasia Barrino
Won: May 26, 2004
Runner-up: Diana DeGarmo
Winning Song: “I Believe”
Now: This Grammy winner has released six studio albums and appeared on Broadway in “The Color Purple” and “After Midnight.”
Season 4: Carrie Underwood
Won: May 25, 2005
Runner-up: Bo Bice
Winning Song: “Inside Your Heaven”,
Now: The most successful winner by far, she has released six studio albums and won seven Grammy Awards, 8 CMA Awards, 10 Billboard Music Awards and 12 ACM Awards.
Season 5: Taylor Hicks
Won: May 24, 2006
Runner-up: Katharine McPhee
Winning Song: “Do I Make You Proud”
Now: He has released three studio albums, appeared on Broadway in “Grease” and had long-term residencies in Las Vegas.
SEE ‘American Idol’ premieres March 11 on ABC: Ryan Seacrest hosts new judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie
Season 6: Jordin Sparks
Won: May 23, 2007
Runner-up: Blake Lewis
Winning Song: “This Is My Now”
Now: She has released three studio albums, been nominated for a Grammy, and acted in “Sparkle.”
Season 7: David Cook
Won: May 21, 2008
Runner-up: David Archuleta
Winning Song: “The Time of My Life”
Now: He has released four studio albums and will make his Broadway debut this spring in the Tony-winning musical “Kinky Boots.”
Season 8: Kris Allen
Won: May 20, 2009
Runner-up: Adam Lambert
Winning Song: “No Boundaries”
Now: He has released five studio albums, is married to his high school sweetheart Katy O’Connell and is the father of two.
Season 9: Lee DeWyze
Won: May 26, 2010
Runner-up: Crystal Bowersox
Winning Song: “Beautiful Day”
Now: He has released six studio albums and tours extensively.
Season 10: Scotty McCreery
Won: May 25, 2011
Runner-up: Lauren Alaina
Winning Song: “I Love You This Big”
Now: He has released three studio albums and just reached #1 on the country charts with his first single in five years, “Five Minutes More.”
SEE ‘The Voice’ winners: Where are they now (Season 1 – 13)?
Season 11: Phillip Phillips
Won: May 23, 2012
Runner-up: Jessica Sanchez
Winning Song: “Home”
Now: He has released three studio albums, with the third, “Collateral,” spawning the recent hit “Miles.”
Season 12: Candice Glover
Won: May 16, 2013
Runner-up: Kree Harrison
Winning Song: “I Am Beautiful”
Now: Her solo studio album, “Music Speaks,” was delayed and released a year after her win to modest success.
Season 13: Caleb Johnson
Won: May 21, 2014
Runner-up: Jena Irene
Winning Song: “As Long as You Love Me”
Now: His sole studio album, “Testify,” was released just weeks after his win. He has since gone the indie music route.
Season 14: Nick Fradiani
Won: May 13, 2015
Runner-up: Clark Beckham
Winning Song: “Beautiful Life”
Now: His sole studio album, “Hurricane,” was a sales disappointment. He released an EP, “Where We Left Off,” in the fall of 2017.
Season 15: Trent Harmon
Won: April 7, 2016
Runner-up: LaPorsha Renae
Winning Song: “Falling”
Now: He followed up this hit single with another, ““You Got ‘Em All,” and is working on his debut album.