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Season 2, Ruben Studdard, right, and runner-up Clay Aiken.

When thinking of past "American Idol" competitors, it's often confusing trying to remember which ones actually won the televised singing competition and which have found their own fame merely by being on the show.

Here's a list. Some seasons were better than others. The breakdown:

Season 1, Kelly Clarkson: After winning, Clarkson signed with RCA Records, the label in partnership with "American Idol's" 19 Management. Clarkson's first single, "A Moment Like This," debuted at No. 52 but marked the biggest jump in Billboard Hot 100 History when it shot to No. 1 — breaking a record set by the Beatles. She has won two Grammy Awards, four American Music Awards and 12 Billboard music awards; one of only two "American Idols" to win the big three music awards.

Runner-up Justin Guarini, who is spotted in the audience from time to time, continues to act in independent films and works on jazz CDs. But third runner-up Tamyra Gray has been on Broadway — appearing in "Bombay Dreams" and "RENT."

Season 2, Ruben Studdard: Released three albums after his win, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard lists and garnering the "velvet teddy bear" nominations for Grammys, American Music Awards, BET awards, Soul Train awards and winning an Image Award in 2004. Studdard will be in Salt Lake City with the upcoming tour of "Ain't Misbehavin'."

But there was some controversy over the voting, which would later see the voting procedures changed, Studdard went up against the super-popular Clay Aiken. Aiken, surpassed in sales by only Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, has become the most successful male and most successful runner-up in "Idol" history, and he made his Broadway debut this year in "Spamalot."

Also from Season 2: Josh Gracin when on to record a country album and had three singles appear on the charts. Kimberly Locke has released two albums.

Season 3, Fantasia Barrino: Fantasia dropped her last name and went on to release an album in 2004 becoming the top-selling single that year and received four Grammy nominations for her double platinum debut album. Fantasia joined the Broadway cast of "The Color Purple" to critical acclaim and is signed on to star in the movie musical version.

More notably, Golden Globe and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson was discovered this season. Hudson came in seventh place during the competition and is the only "Idol" to win an Oscar.

Does the name William Hung ring a bell? Yes, even people who can't sing at all can still find a few minutes of fame under the neon sign of "American Idol." His version of Ricky Martin's "She Bangs" got him a record deal and made him more than $500,000 in record sales — he also starred in a Cingular Wireless commercial with host Ryan Seacrest.

Season 4, Carrie Underwood: Underwood's first single debuted at No. 1 Billboard Hot 100, briefly stopping Mariah Carey's run at the top spot. Her debut album peaked at No. 2 on the charts. Underwood has won four American Music Awards, 13 Billboard Music Awards and three Grammy Awards, joining Kelly Clarkson as the only "Idol" artists to win in the three big music awards.

It was also the season of the rocker — a first in the pop competition. Constantine Maroulis and Bo Bice sported long hair and inspired others (Chris Daughtry) to try their hand at rock 'n' roll.

Bice is the third most successful recording artist not to win the title.

Season 5, Taylor Hicks: His first post-"Idol" single debuted at No. 1 and certified gold and his debut album, to date, has sold more than 702,000 copies. Hicks' career since "Idol" has had its ups and downs. Earlier this year it was announced that Hicks had been released from his recording contract. Hicks, who occasionally appears in concerts with Snoop Dog and Willie Nelson, among others, will get $750,000 to write his memoir, titled "Heart Full of Soul: An Inspirational Memoir About Finding Your Voice and Finding Your Way."

By far, the fifth-season contestant with the most commercial success is Chris Daughtry, now lead singer of the band Daughtry. Their album surpassed Barrino and Studdard's combined totals, selling more than 3.2 million copies to date and was the fastest-selling rock album in Soundscan history.

Recently, sixth-place finisher Kellie Pickler has landed No. 1 on the Billboard Country charts with her album "Small Town Girl."

Season 6, Jordin Sparks: Has had some mild success with her songs selling well on iTunes. She performed at Super Bowl XLII as well as for Diana Ross at the 30th Annual Kennedy Honors. Sparks, the youngest "American Idol" winner, will be the opening act for Alicia Keys "As I Am" tour and just teamed up with Avon to become a spokeswoman for the teen-focused line, Mark.

There weren't many other notables this season ... unless you count Sanjaya and his hair.


E-mail: ehansen@desnews.com