American Idol’s fifth season was filled with shocking eliminations. Big-voiced R&B/gospel singer Mandisa didn’t make it to the top eight. Kellie Pickler, a country singer who reminded people of previous winner Carrie Underwood, didn’t make it into the top five. Plus, American Idol’s most successful male contestant and one of the biggest stars in modern rock music, Chris Daughtry, didn’t win.
Regardless of who was voted off when, it was the still the highest rated TV series of 2006. One of the show’s most successful seasons, it resulted in a record number of Billboard chart appearances, with 18 contestants from the show eventually receiving some sort of record contract!
But whatever happened to those who made it to the top that year? Let’s find out as we continue on with 2006’s American Idols.
5. Paris Bennett
Many viewers cried foul about her ties to the recording industry: her mother and grandmother recorded with Sounds of Blackness, but more shocking was the fact that this 17-year-old usually chose the oldest songs to sing. “Take Five”, “Fever”, and “These Foolish Things” were among her best known performances.
Bennett released her Princess P album in 2007, which reached the top of Billboard’s “Top Heatseekers” chart. After releasing a Christmas album in 2008, she made plans to record a jazz album, but it has yet to be released. She co-starred with Ciara and Patti LaBelle in Mama, I Want to Sing, an independent movie released on DVD last year, but still seems actively involved in music, as this recent video shows.
4. Chris Daughtry
Chris brought a rock sound that was previously unheard of on the American Idol stage, and rumors persisted that he was to be named the new lead singer of Fuel. Shortly after his American Idol run, he formed the band Daughtry with two friends from back home, and two guitarists who auditioned for the job.
If you hear a rock song on Top 40 radio today, chances are it is a Daughtry song. “It’s Not Over”, “Home”, “Feels Like Tonight”, “What About Now”, “No Surprise”, and “Life After You” are the biggest hits from their first two platinum-selling albums. The group recently released their Break The Spell album which has just gone gold.
However, there’s one blight in Chris’ career; several former bandmates (from a group formed prior to Daughtry) have filed a lawsuit, stating that the singer refused to credit them as songwriters on several Daughtry albums. In response to the charges, Chris stated on his website, “I am very hurt. The songs listed in this lawsuit were written solely by me and no one else…”.
3. Elliot Yamin
Though his audition was never aired on the show, the former DJ certainly made an impression on viewers, with only a small percentage of votes keeping him out of the big finalé. He went on to release the hit single, “Wait For You”.
Elliot has been keeping busy with a lot of charity work, including a trip to Angola for Malaria No More that was documented on Idol Gives Back and becoming a spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He released his fifth album, Let’s Get To What’s Real last March.
2. Katharine McPhee
Critics said that she didn’t show much personality, but her fans got “McPheever” over her highly-praised performances. Her resulting single reached No.4 on the singles chart and her debut album sold well.
A 2010 follow-up album didn’t fare as well, but McPhee continues to record, performing among the likes of David Foster, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Botti, and Elliot Yamin in various different projects. In recent years she has mostly focused on acting, appearing in movies like The House Bunny, Shark Night 3D, and the upcoming Peace, Love & Misunderstanding. She currently stars as an aspiring Broadway actress in NBC’s Smash, which was recently renewed for a second season.
1. Taylor Hicks
The gray-haired contestant won audiences over with his cheerful personality and R&B blues style. His “Do I Make You Proud” was a No.1 hit, but his resulting album became the lowest-selling debut for a Idol winner.
He received a large sum to release an autobiography of his life in 2007, which was rumored to be ghostwritten by a former writer for Rolling Stone magazine. After being dropped by his label, he appeared in a Broadway revival of Grease and created his own record label for his last album. He was recently added to the cast of celebrity bachelors looking for a date on FOX’s upcoming reality show, Take Me Out.