It has been 20 years since the singing reality TV show released its first season. Contestants from all around the US compete to win stardom and to obtain their dreams. But, what about those who come in second place? Where are the American Idol runner-ups now after missing out on the no.1 spot?

To put that into perspective, music amateurs will first audition in front of four judges and prove that they have all the qualities to become the next superstar. Currently, Season 20 has Ryan Seacrest return as host alongside Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie as judges.

Previous winners include icons such as Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia Barrino, and Carrie Underwood. The stars have gone on to win Grammys and have successful careers. But what has become of the American Idol runner-ups?

Reality Titbit is taking a trip down memory lane and is counting down the three most and least successful runner-ups until this day. Success is relative, so we’ve took into consideration social media following and chart hits to determine ‘success’ since American Idol.

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Top 3 least successful

Arthur Gunn

Dibesh Pokharel, known as Arthur Gunn is American Idol’s Season 18 runner-up. He lost against Just Sam but had the opportunity to return for the following season of American Idol. Unfortunately, he was eliminated after the Top 7 show.

After Idol, the 24-year-old Nepali singer released an album Self-Titled, although it did not create much of a buzz once it went out.

Regardless, he has gathered a total of 306k Instagram followers, which is a great feat. Before heading up to the 19th season of American Idol, the singer released his latest song Tell Me, How Do You Sleep At Night? on Spotify.

Bo Bice

Just like Clay Aiken, Bo Bice had a pretty tough competitor. He was up against Carrie Underwood.

Nonetheless, Bo had a short relationship with fame after he had left Idol. His 2005 album The Real Thing peaked at number four with the song of the same name reaching number two. Bo’s first album also earned a US Gold certification after surpassing half a million sales.

However, according to Insider, his other two albums did not perform well on the charts. His fourth album titled Kingdom Within was released in 2017.

The singer does not own any social media accounts, although there is an unverified account of his with over 1,000 followers.

It appears the star has gone quite over the past five years and avoided the showbiz world.

  • RELATED: American Idol singers now: Who quit fame and started working normal jobs?

Crystal Bowersox

Crystal was the first female finalist in three years. Sadly, she lost to Lee DeWyze.

Ever since Idol, the American singer has released a total of three (soon four) albums. However, they have not quite performed well on the charts, except for her first album Farmer’s Daughter.

After her third album ‘Alive’ was released, she took a five-year hiatus from music. Crystal is now set to release her fourth studio album, HitchHiker.

Top 3 most successful

Clay Aiken

Losing against Kelly Clarkson is a tough pill to swallow, especially after how far the singer has gone. But Clay Aiken has also had a very promising career once the show ended.

Since then, Clay has released six studio albums, all of them performing well on the charts. He’s been on Broadway, became a writer, appeared as a musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” and competed on “Celebrity Apprentice”.

In 2014, Clay ran for the US House of Representatives, representing North Carolina. Even though he lost, he has decided to run again for the position later in 2022.

I guess there are other ways to raise your voice. If it’s not singing, let it be for politics!

  • RELATED: Kenedi Anderson dropping out of American Idol sparks fan theories

Lauren Alaina 

After Lauren Alaina came in second against Scotty McCreery, the singer became a successful country singer.

The singer has released a total of three studio albums since 2011 and her songs have gone to the top of the Billboard charts. She earned her first number one hit single with “What Ifs” from her EP Road Less Traveled.

Lauren’s first television appearance since American Idol was on the 28th season of Dancing with the Stars. The singer ended in fourth place with her partner Gleb Savchenko.

As of today, Lauren is an official member of The Grand Ole Opry, an American country music stage concert held every week in Nashville, Tennessee.

Throughout her career, Lauren Alaina has been nominated for the ACM Awards, CMT Awards, Billboard Music Awards and iHeart Radio Awards.

Adam Lambert 

Adam Lambert is by far the most successful runner-up contestant from American Idol.

The singer rose to fame after finishing as runner-up in the eighth season. However, Adam never gave up and continued his profession as a singer by releasing his debut album the following year.

He had a very successful musical career, with his songs reaching the top of the Billboard Charts. For a while, he also appeared on big shows such as Glee, Pretty Little Liars, and the musical film Bohemian Rhapsody as a little cameo.

Adam is currently working with the remaining active members of the iconic British group, Queen. The singer collaborated with the group for the first time in 2011 and became the lead vocalist of Queen + Adam Lambert since then.

The group began touring in 2014 and is currently set to continue their ‘The Rhapsody Tour’ after having to postpone it due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The group released their first album titled Live Around the World in 2020.



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Ashley Bautista
Ashley Bautista

Ashley is a journalism graduate from Kingston University, currently writing for HITC, Reality Titbit and The Focus. She loves to travel and learn new languages and cultures. She also has an interest in celebrity news and the entertainment world. When she’s not writing, she’s on social media, watching K-dramas or shopping.

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