Playlist: Reality TV Stars

Among all Reality TV singing competitions, The Voice has to be my favorite. But the show has yet to send any artist into superstardom. Here are 15 artists that found success outside of their Reality TV stint.

Kelly Clarkson (American Idol, Season 1, Champion)

Kelly Clarkson has come a long way since winning the first season of American Idol. Outside of the show, contestants struggle being taken seriously. Kelly Clarkson is an exception. But with a global career spanning a decade and a half, she opened the doors for others to break out. Life would suck without her. But From Justin to Kelly still sucks.

Carrie Underwood (American Idol, Season 4, Champion) 

Simon has some comments he should regret. But his prophecy that Carrie Underwood would sell millions of records came true. It’s a claim he can own and brag about. Carrie is a formidable force in country music. She bloomed and came full circle. Once, she was the awkward girl dancing to “Love is a Battlefield.” Now, she’s regarded as a legend.

Jennifer Hudson (American Idol, Season 3, 7th Place)

Perhaps, the incident involving three talented African American women in the bottom, namely Jennifer Hudson, Latoya London, and Fantasia Barrino, goes down in history as one of reality TV’s most shocking moments. Even then, Jennifer was perceived third among the ladies.  Now, she clearly ahead with an Oscar and a Grammy in her pocket.

One Direction (X Factor UK, Season 7, 3rd Place)

I was entering my teenage years when boybands had a golden era. Everyone was going gaga over the Backstreet Boys, Westlife, and ‘N Sync. I was an adult when One Direction rose to fame, and it’s crazy how the intensity and craze lived on. Even when they’ve decided to go in different directions, it hasn’t stopped them from succeeding.

Little Mix (X Factor UK, Season 8, Champion)

Girl groups are not supposed to last. Following the split of the Spice Girls, that’s what I’ve been used to. Yet, here is X Factor’s export continuously churning out music that just gets better with each album release. Not to mention, their sound is the most fun you can have without making political statements or pushing the norms of pop culture.

Fifth Harmony (X Factor USA, Season 2, 3rd Place)

The girls have taken a hiatus. A reader of the site called me out when I called it disbandment. We’ll see who’s right. During their peak, they commanded a loyal fanbase that I was surprised existed. I will always remember how they chose to collaborate with hip-hop artists unnecessarily. Their work was even better with just their own sound.

Olly Murs (X Factor UK, Season 6, 2nd Place)

Thanks to Graham Norton, and Olly Murs making a diary out of Twitter, the world now knows Olly Murs sports one of the best bums in the industry. Besides his fantastic body and killer looks, his music is always trendy and upbeat. There’s nothing groundbreaking about it. But yes, there’s nothing wrong with it either.

O-Town (Making the Band, Season 1)

Am I the only one who cringed at the lyrics of “Liquid Dreams”? I’m no songwriter. But reciting names of female artists, and pairing it with a dry and dull melody, had to be one of the worst singles by a boy band. I felt indifferent to “Liquid Dreams.” But I was obsessed with “All or Nothing.” That’s a ballad everyone in this world can get behind.

Pentatonix (The Sing-Off, Season 3, Champion)

I’m transparent about my dislike for covers, especially the bossa nova kind. But it’s impossible to ignore the mark Pentatonix has made. They have a monopoly on acapella. They’ve received three Grammy awards. And, they have one of the best selling Christmas albums of all time. That’s not too bad for a group who doesn’t write their own music.

Miranda Lambert (Nashville Star, Season 1, 3rd Place)

Season 5 judge Blake Shelton once discussed how disastrous it was that the show has yet to produce a star. However, he would marry one of its most significant products. Miranda Lambert’s critical acclaim is unprecedented. She even surpassed her ex-husband’s accomplishments – at least when it comes to the respect of their peers and critics.

Chris Daughtry (American Idol, Season 5, 4th Place)

Chris Daughtry might not have won American Idol. But his success outside of the show has clearly been more significant than the people who outranked him, namely Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee, and Elliott Yamin. That’s right, Taylor Hicks won American Idol over the guy whose band has the best selling debut rock album in the Soundscan era.

Girls Aloud (Popstars: The Rivals, Season 2)

I’m not a fan of Girls Aloud. It’s mostly because their music hasn’t traveled outside of the United Kingdom. But just so you understand why this list cannot be crafted without them, they are cited by the Guinness World Records as the “Most Successful Reality TV Group”  TWICE – once in 2008 and another time in 2011.

Susan Boyle (Britain’s Got Talent, Season 3, 2nd Place)

Nowadays, you look around in social media, and some audition piece is going viral. Before that became common, Susan Boyle shocked the world and made waves with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” She may not have the songwriting credit others have. But she has one of the best voices and has sold millions of records.

Adam Lambert (American Idol, Season 8, 2nd Place)

Adam Lambert has one of the most insane voices. He may have lost the battle to Kris Allen. But it’s a no-brainer he won the war. He’s consistently released albums and singles that have turned to hits. He’s been nominated for a Grammy. And from 2014 to 2018, he’s gone on a world tour with Queen. How many can sub for Freddie?

Leona Lewis (X Factor UK, Season 3, Champion)

“Bleeding Love” is one of the most recognizable love songs. Sure, everyone forgets Jessie McCartney wrote it. But it was Leona Lewis’ tone and voice that turned it into a masterpiece. She has struggled to replicate the single’s performance. But having the most successful song from any artist in a reality TV show is a feat most would die for.

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