There have been dozens of "American Idol" graduates over the past decade that have gone on to bigger and better things since appearing on the show. And in so doing, many have also gone on to make a lot of money. Forbes magazine released their "Top-Earning American Idols of 2012" list Wednesday (Jan. 30) and, by the looks of things, being on "American Idol" has certainly paid off for a number of the former finalists. But none did so well in 2012 as the very first Idol herself, Kelly Clarkson.
Clarkson won the inaugural season of the hit Fox Television show on Sept. 4, 2002, and has gone on to drop hit after hit on pop radio (and now country music) stations, sell millions of albums (25 million worldwide, according to Nielsen Soundscan), and win dozens of awards. For 2012, she was also the top earning "Idol" alumnus, pulling in $8 million between May 2011 and May 2012. She topped the list by making nearly twice that of the second-place moneymaker. To do it, she scored a gold album (Stronger) during that time, made millions off of a lucrative tour, and had a few endorsements as well. Look for her to do even better for the 2013 list, considering that Stronger has gone platinum since last May, she was a judge on the ABC reality singing competition "Duets," and she's released a Greatest Hits album that has sold over 250,000 copies since November. The title track of her last studio album, "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You," also jumped the quadruple platinum sales threshold in the past few weeks and became the best selling "Idol" single in history back in July, knocking off Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats" to take the spot.
Speaking of the Season 4 winner, Carrie Underwood placed second on the 2012 list, making $5 million. Mostly records sales and concert appearances accounted for Underwood's total, but a new platinum-selling album, Blown Away, which was released outside of Forbes scoring period, not to mention a sold-out tour, will guarantee her an even greater take for 2013.
Still, at $5 million Underwood had to share second place. Daughtry, headed by Season 5 finalist (fourth place) Chris Daughtry, raked in the same amount. The band's third album, Break The Spell, and extensive touring notched the most successful rocker to graduate from "Idol" a place in the show's leading triumvirate, a place he shares in album sales, singles sales, and No. 1 hits.
Rounding out the Top 5 were Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery ($4 million), who saw his first album, Clear As Day, go platinum. Jennifer Hudson, the Season 3 finalist that finished in seventh place and went on to win an Academy Award, pulled in $3 million from a gold album, I Remember Me, a Weight Watchers endorsement, and a memoir, "I Got This."
Many of the Idols in the Top 10 have new albums slated for release in 2013, including Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson, Scotty McCreery, Jordin Sparks, and David Cook. So one might expect them to place in next year's listing as well. Also, keeping an eye on Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips might be in order, given that his first single, "Home," is nearly the 4 million sales mark (and is already the top selling coronation song in "Idol" history), and his debut album, The World from the Side of the Moon, has sold over 663,000 copies to date. Then there's Adam Lambert, Season 8's runner-up, who saw his second album, Trespassing, released outside the scoring zone for this year's list. With the follow-up tour, he just might climb back to the $6 million level he reached in 2011.
The Forbes Top-Earning American Idols of 2012
1. Kelly Clarkson - $8 million
2. Carrie Underwood - $5 million
2. Daughtry - $5 million
4. Scotty McCreery - $4 million
5. Jennifer Hudson - $3 million
6. Jordin Sparks - $2 million
7. Adam Lambert - $1.5 million
8. Katharine McPhee - $1.1 million
8. Kellie Pickler - $1.1 million
10. David Archuleta - $1 million
10. David Cook - $1 million