READ ABOUT THE TOP 200 VOTED SINGERS ON AMERICAN IDOL
VOTED TOP 4 OF TOP 168 SINGERS ON AMERICAN IDOL. 4. Adam Lambert (Season 8, Runner-up)
He brought sitars, “Mad World,” glitter, and Burning-Man weirdness to the Idol stage, which says a lot. Even when his vocals wavered, he remained the compelling white-hot center of season eight, a completely unpredictable one-man carnival whose energy transformed that year of Idol into one still argued about today. It’s almost right that he didn’t win; he didn’t need the spotlight afforded by an Idol victory, and his performing background no doubt made him aware that the best performers are the ones who let their co-stars shine just as brightly.
3. Carrie Underwood (Season 4, Winner)
Oklahoma-born Carrie Underwood wowed Simon with an early-season cover of Tiffany (!), and quickly found her country-rock niche, belting out Heart’s “Alone” like a seasoned pro and proving herself able to hang with Roy Orbison, the Dixie Chicks, even purveyors-of-schmaltz Air Supply. Her smoothly confident performances and powerhouse voice helped Idol expand into the country space, and established her as a future Nashville hit-maker.
2. Fantasia Barrino (Season 3, Winner)
With a backstory worthy of a Lifetime movie and a voice that the word “unique” hardly does a millipart of justice to, Fantasia has taken a trip that ranks as one of the most potent Idol success stories. Her spine-tingling top-eight performance of “Summertime” still ranks as one of the show’s best, a lightning-in-a-bottle moment that she somehow managed to replicate for that year’s final episode, ensuring the crown and her place in Idol lore.
1. Kelly Clarkson (Season 1, Winner)
When American Idol launched, it had the subtitle The Search for a Superstar. If it had ended after Kelly Clarkson was crowned, in September 2002, it could have sat back with a sigh, content that it had fulfilled its mission. Clarkson's run to the inaugural title wasn't perfect; she could be pitchy and, sometimes, a bit too excited. But Idol's viewership fell in love with her boisterous performances of "It's Raining Men" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) a Natural Woman," and with good reason. She was, no joke, a cocktail waitress from Texas who had been goaded by her friends to try out on a lark, and she could sing her face off. Pop music is certainly better for her having won (just ask everyone who's ripped off "Since U Been Gone" over the past decade-plus), and Idol couldn't have had a better original victor. Clarkson was, and is, charming and bright, a true up-from-below success story made even sweeter by its protagonist's effervescent charm and formidable pipes.