American Idol’s eighth season was full of big changes, some of which the audience liked, and some of which it hated. The show disappointingly discontinued Idol Gives Back. The new “judges save” rule gave eliminated contestants a second chance at the title. And a new judge was added to the panel, songwriter Kara DioGuardi, who mostly struck out with fans hoping for longer performances from the contestants and less pointless talk.
Despite all this, one thing didn’t change: American Idol was the highest rated TV series of 2008. Due to the talent of its contestants, fans of the show often list season 8 as their favorite. But do you remember who made it to the top five that year? And what have they been up to lately? Let’s find out as we continue on with 2008’s American Idols.
5. Matt Giraud
Critics wondered how the public would respond to the new “judges save” rule, which gave the judges a one-time chance of vetoing what the people wanted. But the audience was shocked when likable contestant Matt Giraud got the fewest votes. When the judges announced that he was saved, it was one of the most memorable moments of the season.
Giraud was voted off the show two weeks later, but performed a duet with fellow contestant Scott MacIntyre on Season 9 results show. Despite the fact that he hasn’t released a full-length album since, he has recorded with Jim Brickman, Anna Wilson, and Lindsey Sky. He released two Christmas singles last year, and continues to perform live concerts.
4. Allison Iraheta
She won a record contract on a Telemundo TV competition, but the show’s legal problems led to the cancellation of her prize. Two years later, she was earning votes on Idol. Many viewers were disappointed that she didn’t make it into the top three, but rumor had it that she had already signed a record deal.
Despite rave reviews, her debut album didn’t sell as well as expected. Jive Records dropped her from their label, but she is still signed on to Idol’s management company and has plans to release a second album.
3. Danny Gokey
Gokey secured a spot for himself in the top 12 after a show-stopping rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Hero”. In the following weeks, he would be known for poking fun at his own awkward dance moves and excelling at country-flavored ballads.
Shortly after appearing on the show, he had his own line of eyeglasses that raised funds for charity. His debut album sold well, and was the highest selling debut for male country artist in over a decade. Last year, he opened up for Taylor Swift on her Speak Now tour, which was the highest grossing tour of 2011. He recently released an EP through his official website.
2. Adam Lambert
A bundle of surprises on stage, he’d ace a pop/rock hit one week (“Black Or White”), then do something drastically experimental (“Ring Of Fire”), and later on sing a traditional ballad (“The Tracks Of My Tears”). The most popular bet to win the whole show, Entertainment Weekly put him on the cover of their magazine weeks before the finale.
A controversial performance at that year’s American Music Awards didn’t deter the public from buying his debut album and making “Whataya Want From Me” a top 10 hit. Earlier this year he performed several concerts with Queen as their temporary lead singer, and released his second album, Trespassing. Debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, it is the first album from an openly gay artist to reach the top spot.
1. Kris Allen
He never fell into the bottom three and awed the audience with his skillful reworking of Kanye West’s “Heartless”, but people were still shocked when Kris Allen won the season, including Allen himself! But the first single off his debut album, “Live Like We’re Dying” went platinum.
Since then, Allen has written songs for Matthew Morrison, Javier Colon, and South African Idol winner Heinz Winckler. He’s also done charity work for the United Nations, DonorsChoose, TOMS shoes, the Music Empowers Foundation, and more. He recently released a follow-up album, Thank You Camellia, which he promoted on a recent episode of Idol.