Since 'American Idol' first invaded our pop culture zeitgeist back in 2002, the show has spawned some of music's biggest stars. Numerous 'Idol' alumni have gone on to record Platinum-selling, Grammy-winning records while others have maintained niche audiences or found success pursuing different career paths. Have a look at some of the most notable former 'Idols.'

Carrie UnderwoodCarrie Underwood

Not every winner's had as easy a time as Carrie Underwood. The first to emerge since Kelly Clarkson without having hit the bottom three in any episode, Carrie left 'Idol' and immediately became a success, first with her single Inside Your Heaven,' followed by the hit 'Jesus, Take the Wheel.' These days, Carrie is a bona fide multi-platinum selling country superstar, having racked up 70 major awards (including five Grammys).


Kelly ClarksonKelly Clarkson

Kelly Clarkson was the first 'Idol' alum to fully move beyond the show and come into her own as both a pop and, surprisingly, rock star. Her albums have sold over 10.5 million copies in the United States alone, and over 20 million worldwide.





Katharine McPheeKatherine McPhee

Narrowly beaten by Taylor Hicks in the show's fifth season, Katharine McPhee didn't let the loss stop her. Her self-titled debut album sounds great and debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200.






Bo BiceBo Bice

After a higher age limit allowed Bo Bice to enter the competition, he showed that it wasn't just pop stars America wanted. Though he placed second, Bo has made a career for himself as a country-tinged Southern rocker. His debut, 'The Real Thing,' was Gold-certified and sold nearly 700,000 copies in the United States.




Taylor HicksTaylor Hicks

The fifth season winner won over millions of 'Soul Patrol' fans with his Southern charm and endearing guy-next-door persona. Since 'Idol,' Taylor Hicks has released two studio albums and landed a gig with a touring production of 'Grease,' playing the part of Teen Angel.





Fantasia BarrinoFantasia Burrino

We loved Fantasia Barrino from the beginning. The third season winner made something of her fame with her single 'I Believe,' which debuted at number one on the Billboard 100. Her album 'Free Yourself' was certified Platinum by the RIAA and earned Barrino four Grammy nominations. Since then she has branched out into acting, appearing on numerous TV shows and taking the role of Celie on the film and Broadway versions of 'The Color Purple.'

Clay AikenClay Aiken

Clay Aiken still has an incredibly loyal fanbase--the 'Claymates,' or 'Claymaniacs'--for his unique brand of soft pop. His first solo album debuted at the top of the Billboard charts, and since then he has released five other successful studio albums. Admirably, Aiken has devoted much time and energy to a number of charitable causes. Since publicly coming out in 2008, Aiken has been an active spokesman for gay rights.


William HungWilliam Hung

William Hung's performance of 'She Bangs' and endearing positive attitude quickly reached legendary status, propelling him to his own CD and multiple TV appearances besides 'Idol.' He has since become somewhat of a cult icon, having been parodied on 'Saturday Night Live' and 'Celebrity Deathmatch.' To this day he continues to make an occasional TV appearance.


Ruben StuddardRuben Studdard

From gospel to R&B to pop, Ruben Studdard covered many musical bases. After winning the second season of 'Idol,' his album 'Soulful' debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and went on to sell nearly 2 million copies. In March 2010, he returned to the 'American Idol' stage and announced that he would embarking on a joint tour with fellow season two finalist Clay Aiken.