American Idol: 19 of the Most Memorable Contestants
Memorable 'American Idol' Contestants
Over the course of 14 years, American Idol has crowned more than a dozen winners, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Jordin Sparks. But some of the contestants who fell short of a win still made a sizable impact. See 19 of the most memorable contestants who didn't win, ahead.
William Hung, Season 3
The then-California college student never made it past the auditions, but he charmed viewers with his unforgettable rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs."
Katharine McPhee, Season 5
One of the more successful Idol castoffs, Katharine McPhee competed in the show's fifth season. While she didn't win, she went on to lead a successful acting career, picking up starring roles in Smash and Scorpion.
Sanjaya Malakar, Season 6
Sanjaya Malakar made a name for himself thanks to his dedicated fanbase and one crying young woman in particular. He took seventh place in the sixth season.
Larry Platt, Season 9
While Larry Platt did not meet the age requirements to compete on the show, the sexagenarian stole the show with his performance of "Pants on the Ground," a song he wrote himself about men who sag their pants.
Kellie Pickler, Season 5
Kellie Pickler rose to fame after placing sixth in American Idol's fifth season. She led a successful music career, releasing multiple studio albums, and won Season 16 of Dancing with the Stars.
Jennifer Hudson, Season 3
The only contestant with an Oscar to her name, Jennifer Hudson became an idol in her own right after taking seventh place in the show's third season. She released Grammy-winning studio albums and picked up dozens of awards, including the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, for her turn in 2006's Dreamgirls.
Elliott Yamin, Season 5
A particularly star-studded bunch, Season 5 also played host to Elliott Yamin, who came in third. The musician was one of Paula Abdul's favorites and went on to release multiple studio albums.
Adam Lambert, Season 8
Adam Lambert made it to the final two of Season 8, but fell short to winner Kris Allen. Lambert came out on top in the end, however, as he released Grammy-nominated albums and worked on his acting career.
Haley Reinhart, Season 10
Haley Reinhart took third place in Idol's 10th season, but found success after the show. She released one album with a second on the way, and has popped up on television shows.
Clay Aiken, Season 2
Much to the despair of the Claymates, Clay Aiken fell to Ruben Studdard in the final episode of the second season. He still released multiple award-winning albums, and even ran for Congress in 2014.
Chris Daughtry, Season 5
Chris Daughtry made a name for himself on Idol's fifth season, coming in fourth. He dropped his first name and picked up a successful music career after the show, releasing multiple studio albums with his band Daughtry.
Pia Toscano, Season 10
Pia Toscano had early momentum in the show's 10th season, but came in ninth, falling to eventual winner, Scotty McCreery. Remembered for her shocking departure, Toscano still pursued a music career.
Constantine Maroulis, Season 4
That hair! Those moves! Constantine Maroulis finished sixth in Idol's fourth season, but only went up from there, establishing a successful career on Broadway after giving music a go.
Crystal Bowersox, Season 9
Breaking the pattern of male finalists, Crystal Bowersox burst threw in american Idol's ninth season. She finished as the runner-up to Lee DeWyze, but made a name for herself with her vocal chops and her candor.
Bo Bice, Season 4
Bo Bice brought his rock star locks and his guitar skills to Idol's fourth season. He ended the season in fourth place, but made enough of an impression that he picked up a gig with Blood, Sweat & Tears after the show.
LaToya London, Season 3
LaToya London impressed with her powerful performances in the third season. She wound up in fourth place, but continued to sing after the season wrapped.
Sherman Pore, Season 6
Sherman Pore's age kept him from making it past the auditions, but he won the hearts of viewers when he tried out in honor of his late love, who died shortly before his appearance.
David Archuleta, Season 7
It was a battle of the Davids in Idol's seventh season. David Archuleta was the runner-up to winner David Cook, but he stole hearts with his performances.
Casey Abrams, Season 10
Casey Abrams took sixth place on Idol's 10th season, but made an impact during his abbreviated time as he made fans out of the judges and charmed with his personality.