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‘American Idol’ Runner-Ups: What Happened To The Show’s 2nd Place Finishers?

While some ‘American Idol’ runner-ups have been successful, others have essentially faded into oblivion. Here’s an update!

Season 19 of American Idol is underway, and by the show’s finale in May, one person will join this list of runner-ups who JUST missed the mark of winning the whole show. Although several Idol runner-ups have faded from the spotlight, others have continued to have successful careers of their own. The most recent runner-up is Arthur Gunn, who came in second place behind Just Sam during the season 18 virtual finale in 2020. Arthur kept up his momentum after the show, and even released an album amidst the coronavirus last year.

Katharine McPhee

Katharine McPhee attending an ‘American Idol’ finale. (Peter Brooker/Shutterstock)

Long before Katharine McPhee was David Foster’s wife and a new mom, she was the runner-up on season five of American Idol in 2006. In a controversial finish, Katharine finished in second place behind Taylor Hicks. Not only has Katharine pursued her music career in the years since the show, but she’s also taken on plenty of roles as an actress, as well. Katharine starred in the short-lived, but beloved, show, Smash, and even had a stint as the lead in Waitress on Broadway.

Lauren Alaina

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Lauren Alaina performing on ‘American Idol.’ (American Idol Prod/Fox Tv Network/Fremantle Media North America/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Then, there’s Lauren Alaina, who’s made quite a name for herself in country music! Although it took her SIX years to put out a second album after competing on Idol, Lauren has remained a constant fixture in the country music community, and was awarded New Female Artist of the Year at the ACM Awards in 2018. Plus, she competed on Dancing With the Stars in 2019, and came in 4th place! In 2020, Lauren released two EPs to continue sharing music with her fans.

Adam Lambert

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Adam Lambert performing. (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP/Shutterstock)

Another successful second place finisher is Adam Lambert. Adam came in second place behind Kris Allen on season eight of American Idol in 2009. He’s been consistently working on a solo career since being name the runner-up on Idol, but he most notably has teamed up with the hit rock band, Queen, to tour all over the world. Adam has sang lead vocals while touring with the band under the name Queen + Adam Lambert since 2011. 

There are plenty more stories to catch up on besides these three! Click through the gallery above to see where all the American Idol runner-ups are today!


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