American Idol’s sixth season created a lot of speculation, even before the top 24 was announced (due to a female contestant’s photo scandal and the inclusion of a former hitmaker’s son), but there was quite a bit of talk about a certain contestant with crazy hair. Yes, half the audience loved Sanjaya Malakar and the other half despised him (and one little girl cried uncontrollably every time she saw him.), but he didn’t even make it into the top six.
American Idol continued to be the highest rated show in television and a record amount of phone-in votes were cast that season, but the year’s biggest event was Idol Gives Back. A charity event benefitting poverty victims in Africa and the survivors of Hurricane Katrina, it led to over $70 million dollars in donations by viewers and corporations. To cap off the night of giving, no contestant was eliminated that week.
Still, the show had to go on, with these five singers being 2007’s most favorite Idols.
5. Chris Richardson
Some compared him to Justin Timberlake, but Chris Richardson was one of the show’s most modern contestants, performing covers of hits by Jason Mraz, Keith Urban, Rob Thomas, and Gavin DeGraw, among others.
Chris released a solo album the following year, but gained more noterity as a songwriter, collaborating with fellow Idol alumni Blake Lewis, Jordin Sparks, and Phil Stacey. He recently signed a deal with a new record label and is now promoting his new single, “In The Name Of Love”.
4. LaKisha Jones
A choir singer/bank teller turned overnight TV star, LaKisha frequently fought Melinda Doolittle for the votes of R&B/gospel fans. A year after her run on the show, she appeared in a Broadway revival of The Color Purple.
Jones wouldn’t release an album until 2009’s So Glad I’m Me, but made an appearance mentoring the contestants of MTV’s Legally Blonde: The Search For Elle Woods prior to that. A January post on the official American Idol website revealed that she is still “working on her music”, but there are no mentions of anything new on her official Myspace or YouTube accounts.
3. Melinda Doolittle
A former professional back-up singer who got a chance to be in the spotlight, Melinda charmed audiences with her pitch-perfect vocals and humble stage presence. When she was voted off the show, the nation was shocked.
She released a cover-filled album entitled Coming Back To You in 2009 and released an autobiography about her life, Finding Your Way To Life’s Next Level a year later. She recently appeared as the voice of Cassie Cassava in Veggietales: Twas The Night Before Easter and released a Christmas single, “God Bless Us Everyone”. According to her official Twitter account, she’s still a big fan of the show, voting for both Jessica Sanchez and Phillip Phillips in last week’s Idol finale.
2. Blake Lewis
He was known for skillfully reworking classic songs into his own beatboxed style, with his cover of Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love A Bad Name” selling more downloads than any other performance of that season. His debut album Audio Day Dream debuted at No.10 on the Billboard charts.
Lewis released a follow-up album Heartbreak On Vinyl in 2009. A year later, he voiced Kasuka in the US version of the Durarara!! anime series. Though he often makes appearances with other former Idol contestants at various reunion shows, he is still working on music. He recently released this duet with Dutch producer/DJ Daniel Wanrooy.
1. Jordin Sparks
Idol’s youngest winner was 17 years old in 2007, and she remains the show’s last female to earn the top spot. Though many were surprised by her win, Sparks’ resulting album went platinum and led to four hit singles.
This year’s Idol-watchers probably remember her “AT&T HTC One X with Beatbox Portable” commercial, featuring an overly eager executive lipsynching to “Battlefield”. She recently made headlines for her memorable tribute to Whitney Houston at this year’s Billboard Music Awards and will star in the upcoming movie remake of Sparkle, which features Houston in her last film role.