Playlist: Reality TV Stars

Among all Reality TV singing competitions, The Voice has to be my favorite. But the show has yet to launch any artist into superstardom. Here are 15 artists that managed to find success outside of the TV shows that discovered them.


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 to be taken seriously. Kelly Clarkson is an exception. Of course, From Justin to Kelly is the perfect argument to dismiss her. But with a global career spanning a decade and a half, she opened the doors for other contestants to break out. Life would suck without her.


Carrie Underwood (American Idol, Season 4, Champion) 

Over the years, Simon Cowell’s praises turned into gimmicks to boost the careers of his bets. But his prophecy that Carrie Underwood would sell millions of records in the USA is a claim he can forever own and brag about. Carrie Underwood is now one of the most formidable forces in country music. She has bloomed and come full circle. She was just the awkward girl dancing to “Love is a Battlefield”. Look at her now and she’s regarded as legendary among her peers.


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

Perhaps, the bottom three placement of three talented African American women namely Jennifer Hudson, Latoya London and Fantasia Barrino still goes down as one of reality TV history’s most shocking moments. But even if that didn’t happen, Jennifer Hudson was perceived to rank third among the three ladies.  Fast forward to today, and she’s an Oscar and a Grammy ahead. Given the enormous talent she possesses, placing 7th is no handicap for her.


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

I was about to enter my teenage years when pop music had its golden era for boy bands. Everyone, myself included, was going gaga over the Backstreet Boys, Westlife and ‘N Sync. I’ve grown older since and never bothered to pay attention to the rise of One Direction. It’s surprising how intense the craze and the hype is until today. Even when they’ve decided to go in different directions (pun intended), it has not stopped their success. Their solo careers taking off are proof that not only are they talented collectively, but individually as well.


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

Girl groups are not supposed to last. At least, that’s what I’ve been used to, following the split of the Spice Girls. Yet, here is X Factor’s export continuously churning out sound that just gets better with each album release. Not to mention, their music 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 One Man Anthem has taken the liberty to correct me 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 fine to begin with. There’s no new audience that will listen just because a rapper is now featured.


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

Thanks to Graham Norton, and Olly Murs who constantly treats Twitter like a diary, the world has been made aware of the fact that Olly Murs sports one of the best bums in the industry. Besides his fantastic body and killer looks, his music always sounds trendy and upbeat. There’s nothing groundbreaking about his music. But there’s certainly 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 calling out names of successful female artists, and pairing it with one of the driest and dullest melodies, had to be one of the worst debut singles by a boy band. For the indifference I had for “Liquid Dreams”, I was blessed with their release of “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. Having said that, it’s impossible not to acknowledge the mark Pentatonix has made. They have a monopoly of acapella in today’s pop culture. They have been rewarded with 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 with The New York Times how disastrous it was that the show has yet to produce a consistent star. Yet, he would marry one of its biggest products. Miranda Lambert’s critical acclaim in the last few years is unprecedented. To an extent, he has even surpassed his ex-husband’s accomplishments – at least, in relation to the respect of their peers and the 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 bigger 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 would eventually have 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 has not managed to travel 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 viral video is going around giving you the chills of a voice you didn’t expect. Before that became commonplace, Susan Boyle shocked the world and made waves with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream”. Afterwards, she sold millions of records, and I mean millions. She may not have the songwriting talent that artists of today have. But she has one of the best voices this world will ever hear.


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

Adam Lambert has one of the most insane voices to ever come out of a man. 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 artists can pull that range off?


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

“Bleeding Love” has to be one of the most recognizable love songs of the last few decades. While Leona Lewis has struggled to replicate the single’s success, having the most successful song from any artist in a reality TV show is a feat most would die for.


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