More than any year before, the media focus on American Idol’s ninth season was on everything but its contestants! During the audition rounds, celebrity guest judges (Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Patrick Harris, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Shania Twain, and Joe Jonas) filled in for Paula Abdul, who had just left the show. Then the spotlight turned to her replacement, comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who controversially had no prior experience in the music business.
During the top 12, host Ryan Seacrest drew attention by accidentally tweeting the outcome of a results show before it aired on the West Coast. And the season ended with the third male winner in a row, drawing the ire of critics who claimed that the show’s female fanbase had turned the competition into an eyecandy contest.
Regardless of all the complaints, however, American Idol continued to be the highest rated show on television. Its finalé brought in millions of phone-in votes, showing that viewers still cared about who made it into the Top 5.
Do you remember the Top 5 of 2010? Read on to not only find out who American Idol’s most popular contestants were, but also discover what they’ve been up to lately.
5. Aaron Kelly
Sixteen-year-old Aaron Kelly was so innocent and good-natured that he changed the word “liquor” to “cider” in his performance of “Blue Suede Shoes”. He had a knack for ballads and was considered that season’s teen heartthrob.
Shortly after appearing on the show, he released an online single, “Can’t Wait ‘Til Christmas”. Currently signed up to the same management company as Carrie Underwood, Miley Cyrus, Tim McGraw, and other country acts, Kelly plans to release a debut album soon.
4. Michael Lynche
Professional trainer Michael Lynche was taking part in the show’s “Hollywood Round” when his wife went into labor, and as the season went on, his newborn daughter was a member of the studio audience. The second contestant to be “saved” by the judges, he was known for sensitive R&B ballads.
He recently released his first single, “Who’s Gonna Love You More”, and a self-titled debut album.
3. Casey James
Ace guitarist Casey James usually played rock songs and was leered at by judge Kara. One of the most talked about moments of the season finalé was his duet of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” with rocker Bret Michaels. It was Michaels’ first TV appearance since his near death experiences involving a brain hemorrhage, an appendectomy, and a warning stroke.
After his run on the show, James was surprisingly signed to Sony’s Nashville division. His debut album scored No. 2 on Billboard’s Country chart and he was the opening act on Sugarland’s The Incredible Machine tour. He recently performed at the Grand Ole Opry and at a benefit for cancer research.
2. Crystal Bowersox
Acoustic strummer Crystal Bowersox went from busking at a train station to performing in front of millions. The likely favorite to win, some viewers are still outraged that she didn’t get the title.
Her debut album, Farmer’s Daughter, didn’t make much of an impact on the charts, but she’s planning to release a follow-up on another label. An EP of songs she recorded prior to appearing on the show is also in the works. Last year, she made her acting debut on ABC’s Body of Proof and appeared alongside B.B. King in commercials for One Touch diabetic meters. She most recently recorded “I Don’t Wanna Go” with Blues Traveler for their Suzie Cracks the Whip album.
1. Lee DeWyze
Lee DeWyze didn’t garner much attention until later in the competition, when his renditions of “Treat Her Like a Lady” and “The Boxer” helped him win the title.
His Live It Up holds the record for the least successful debut album from an Idol winner. However, his debut single, a cover of U2’s “Beautiful Day” scored No.24 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. DeWyze was dropped from RCA records last year, but another smaller label has had some success with releasing three albums of material he recorded prior to appearing on the show.