While the show, now in its 11th season, looks to crown a new champ, past contestants have hardly quit the business. Below, a look at the latest post-''Idol'' projects from some of your favorites

By Grady Smith
March 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT

Kris Allen

You know him as Season 8’s puppy-eyed singer-songwriter who upset Adam Lambert

What’s new The single ”The Vision of Love,” a fairly generic adult-contemporary pop tune, is elevated by his passionate delivery and pristine tone. B

Haley Reinhart

You know her as Season 10’s resident blues queen

What’s new Her debut single, the hopeful breakup anthem ”Free,” shows off that sexy, cooing voice (now bring on the trademark growl!) and bodes well for Listen Up!, due May 22. A-

Adam Lambert

You know him as Season 8’s peacocking performer who put guyliner on the mainstream map

What’s new His latest single, ”Better Than I Know Myself,” is a drippy bore; have chart-topping pomp-rockers fun. stolen his Queen-esque rock mojo? C

Scotty McCreery

You know him as The deep-voiced reigning champ

What’s new His lovely, straightforward cover of Tim McGraw’s ”Please Remember Me” will serve as Idol‘s goodbye song this year. Yes, the lyrics feel too old for a teen — but that’s kind of his shtick. B

Ruben Studdard

You know him as Season 2’s Velvet Teddy Bear

What’s new His soulful latest, Letters to Birmingham, traces his failed marriage: He starts off gushing about honeymoon lovin’, but it’s not long before he’s bragging, ”Ladies, I’m single.” B+

Clay Aiken

You know him as Season 2’s earnest belter who made middle-aged Claymates swoon

What’s new The Celebrity Apprentice star ably sings midcentury standards on the just-released Steadfast. Still, did every song need such a snoozy tempo? C+

Casey James

You know him as Season 9’s golden-maned stud with serious guitar skills

What’s new On his self-titled debut album, a fusion of blues and contemporary country, his subtle grit and frequent guitar solos make the songs shine. B+

Elliot Yamin

You know him as Season 5’s dark-horse R&B contender

What’s new You’d never know it from drab single ”3 Words,” but Yamin’s delightfully funky Let’s Get to What’s Real features horn blasts, retro synths, and throaty vocals. A-

Lauren Alaina

You know her as Season 10’s Deep South runner-up

What’s new Between spunky single ”Georgia Peaches,” a spot opening for Jason Aldean on tour, and a Carrie Underwood-ized makeover, the newly polished Alaina seems to be hitting her stride. B+