This is very close-minded of me, but I don’t always have the most positive feelings about reality TV talent shows, mostly because they don’t do what they say they will. There are so many shows that claim to create stars or find stars or build stars or grow stars or whatever, and yet nobody actually becomes a star from these things, right? RIGHT?
Wrong! Turns out I just wasn’t paying very close attention, because .005% of the time, everything actually works out. Most of the time you get situations like Beyonce losing on Star Search, for the first and last time in her life, but you might actually be surprised by some of the famous people we came up with who made their way into the music industry via a televised talent show. Apparently sometimes good things happen to good people — specifically these ones.
1. One Direction
It’s hard to believe because they got so famous so quickly, but 1D actually came from the UK version of The X Factor in 2010. WHICH THEY DIDN’T EVEN WIN. Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, and Liam Payne all entered the competition as individuals, then were placed together by Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger, only to come in third. And the rest, as they say, is history.
2. Little Mix
You may not have heard of these ladies, but they have quite the following in the UK, becoming the first band since The Spice Girlsto break into the Top 5 with their debut album. Like One Direction the year before them, Little Mix was formed from the British version of X Factor in 2011 when individuals — Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, and Jade Thirlwall — were placed together. Unlike 1D, they actually won the competition, but apparently they don’t hold it against them, as Perrie Edwards and Zayn Malik are actually engaged.
3. Kelly Clarkson
Kelly was the original gangster of talent shows, winning the first ever season of American Idolin 2002. Since then she’s gone on to release five albums, sell 45 million singles, and become the fourteenth best-selling artist of the 2000s. Not too shabby for a decade-long career that’s still going!
4. Susan Boyle
Susan first appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, and from my research, she seems to be the only person who’s ever made it out of that franchise, or its American version. But she came out strong — within nine days of her original audition, YouTube videos of her singing had been watched over 100 million times. Her first album became the UK’s best-selling debut album of all time, and her net worth is currently estimated in the millions of dollars. LEGIT.
5. Katharine McPhee
Another person who came from American Idol (she came in second on the show’s fifth season), Katharine has actually become more famous as an actor at this point after appearing on the TV show Smash, which was canceled last year after…not being the best thing ever. But that officially makes Katharine a double threat, as she’s produced three studio albums as well, one of which — her debut — went Gold.
6. Kellie Pickler
Say what you will about Kellie not being the most famous person on this list, but she’s friends with Taylor Swift, so that’s enough of a celebrity endorsement for me, okay?!?! She’s actually from the same season of AI as Katharine, although she came in sixth. But she’s released four albums, been nominated for multiple CMT awards, three of which she’s won, and she and her partner Derek Hough won the 2013 season of Dancing With The Stars.
7. Cher Lloyd
She’s only twenty years old, but Cher is already stupid famous from coming in fourth on the seventh season of the X Factor. Her song ‘Want U Back’ is probably her most famous, but she’s also collaborated with Demi Lovato (maybe you’ve heard of her) and will be releasing her second studio album Sorry I’m Late in the US in 2014.
8. Carrie Underwood
Star of the critically-acclaimed (well, almost) Sound Of Music Live, Carrie originally got famous as the winner of the fourth season of American Idol in 2005. Since then she’s become an incredibly successful crossover artist between country and pop, winning CMT Artist Of The Year in 2010 and 2012, and racking up an impressive six Grammys so far. And she reportedly even makes more money than current AI judges Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and Keith Urban, raking in an approximate $31 million in 2013.
9. Leona Lewis
Leona originally became famous after winning the third season of X Factor in 2006, and if you’ve been alive in the world, you’ve heard her song ‘Bleeding Love’, which was the best-selling single worldwide in 2008. She’s been nominated for seven Brit Awards and three Grammys, released 5 studio albums, and did a stint in Cats on Broadway in 2016.
10. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer is my favorite because she didn’t even come close to winning her show, being eliminated in seventh place on the third season of American Idol in 2004. But then she went on to sell over a million albums, perform at the Super Bowl, for Oprah Winfrey, and for her friend Barack Obama, earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and OH YEAH SHE GOT AN OSCAR in 2006 for her work in Dreamgirls. And since she has a Grammy too, girl is halfway to an EGOT. No big deal.