Since its 2002 debut, "American Idol" has become a perennial ratings monster and a launching ground for some of the biggest names in entertainment. Of course not all the show's stars go on to greatness. Here's an update on some of our favorite "Idol" contestants.
American Idol presents one of the biggest opportunities many singers will ever see. Whether or not they take advantage of that opportunity is totally up in the air. Let's check in with some of the show's break-out stars to see what they're up to these days.
Nearly a year after a noble second-place run at the Idol crown, Crystal Bowersox is still riding high on the success of her first album, Farmer's Daughter. In December she performed the track on Ellen DeGeneres' show, and in February, 2011, she made her debut at the Grand Ol Opry with a surprise performance of "Mine All Mine.
American Idol's first season winner, Kelly Clarkson, is one of the show's greatest success stories. The singer has recorded four albums, won two Grammys, and she's currently riding on the best-selling single any Idol alum has ever released: a duet with Jason Aldean called "Don't You Wanna Stay?".
Justin Guarini hasn't had the music career of Kelly Clarkson, but this first-season runner-up has launched into a very hot stage career. Justin was praised for his work on the Broadway adaptation of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and starting March 1, 2011, he'll be taking over the part of Will in the hugely successful American Idiot.
Nikki McKibbin ran into her share of troubles after finishing third in the first season of Idol. The singer faced substance abuse problems, put on a lot of weight and her singing career has never really gone anywhere. She's been featured on Celebrity Rehab twice for addiction to cocaine and alcohol, and she's released a string of underwhelming singles.
Season two winner Ruben Studdard hasn't forgotten Clay Aiken. He and the Idol runner-up toured together last summer in a variety show format where one must presume Ruben had many many opportunities to outsing his old rival. The singer has also lost more than 100 pounds since his Idol days thanks to a vegan diet and exercise.
Not only has Clay Aiken released five studio albums, but he starred in the Monty Python musical Spamalot. His most recent album, Tried & True was a collection of hits from the 1950s and '60s and it peaked on #9 on the Billboard 200. In a 2008 interview with People, Aiken admitted that he is gay and his popularity has shown no signs of slowing.
After her stint on Idol, Kimberley Locke went on to be signed by Ford Models' 14+ Division, and she has worked with several charitable organizations. In 2006 she participated in Celebrity Fit Club, where she lost 40 pounds. Most recently, Idol judge Randy Jackson signed her to his dance label, Dream Merchant 21, which released her single Strobelight.