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From marriages to births to Glee guest-starring roles, 2013 was certainly a busy year for American Idol alums and judges.
The year began with a new judging panel featuring Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey — and ended by welcoming back departed judge Jennifer Lopez and adding the affable Harry Connick Jr. into the fold.
Other changes? Randy Jackson stepping away from the table for the first time in the show’s 13-season history, the departure of longtime producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, and the end of the show’s WGWG (white guy with guitar) winning streak.
But despite the drama, both on-camera and off, and all these changes, one constant remained: that the show’s grads made headlines and headway in their careers.
The 13 most notable Idol-related moments of the year? Read on for Idol Worship’s take…
1. Kelly Clarkson Gets Married: The season-one winner takes the top spot in our countdown, beginning the year with a Grammy win for Best Pop Vocal Album (and a very entertaining acceptance speech), and ending with a surprise wedding to her fiancé Brandon Blackstock, the release of a very successful Christmas CD, Wrapped in Red, and the announcement that the newlyweds are expecting their first child.
2. Carrie Underwood Wows in The Sound of Music: Season-four winner Carrie Underwood started the year on a high note with a Grammy Award win for “Blown Away” in the Best Country Solo Performance category, and concluded it in a big way taking on the role of Maria and do-re-mi’ing her way through a live performance of The Sound of Music. NBC reaped the rewards with huge numbers, averaging a 4.6 rating among adults 18-49 and 18.47 million viewers.
3. Adam Lambert Rocks iHeartRadio: The season-eight runner-up’s set with Queen at September’s iHeartRadio festival in Las Vegas was the biggest highlight of the night. How good was Lambert’s performance? Just before a closing duet of the classically camp anthem “Fat Bottomed Girls,” fun. leader Nate Ruess described Lambert as “the best singer I know.” Never far from Sin City, Lambert returned to Las Vegas this past weekend to check out Britney Spears’ new show, Piece of Me.
4. Phillip Phillips Goes Platinum: Continuing his reign on the charts, the season-11 champ’s debut album, The World From the Side of the Moon, was certified platinum in August, marking sales of more than 1 million units. His lead single, “Home,” meanwhile, sold some 4.7 million copies, making it the most successful single of any Idol winner.
5. Idols Invade Glee: Much fanfare surrounded Adam Lambert and Jessica Sanchez as each had their perspective turns on Glee. The season-eight and season-11 favorites held their own on the Fox show, showing off their vocal and acting chops. Sanchez took on the role of Frida Romero, and Lambert shone as Starchild, taking over in a big scene belting “Marry the Night” by Lady Gaga.
6. Kris Allen Soldiers On: The year started on a scary note for season-eight winner Kris Allen, who was involved in a head-on collision on New Year’s Day with his expecting wife in the car. Kris survived the crash and soldiered on with his Out Alive tour, bravely playing his guitar despite wearing a cast and undergoing painful surgeries. The Allens had a well-deserved happy ending with the birth of their baby boy, Oliver, on July 30.
7. Candice Glover Wins Season 12: After being unceremoniously cut in Vegas, the South Carolina native roared back to win the title one year later. The performance that cinched it? A glorious rendition of Adele’s version of “Love Song” by The Cure. Pure vocal perfection.
8. Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo Tie the Knot: It was a fairytale moment, American Idol style, when Ace Young dropped to one knee and proposed to Diana DeGarmo on the season 11 finale of Idol. In 2013, the couple made it official with a beautifully intimate ceremony at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard hotel in Los Angeles on June 1 which was officiated by THR contributor Fred Bronson.
9. Colton Dixon Graduates to Christian Music Star: The season-11 finalist had a heck of a year in 2013 with the release of his album, A Messenger, which debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard 200 chart, followed by a successful tour with Third Day and a win for Best Rock/Contemporary Album at the Dove Awards.
10. Angie Miller Performs Original Song. An early season 12 favorite, Miller made Idol history during Hollywood Week performing her original song,“You Set Me Free.” Not only did that song propel her forward into early contention, but it went viral on YouTube almost immediately. Miller’s success wasn’t a fluke: shortly after the American Idol summer tour wrapped, the Boston native was hand-picked to join Michael W. Smith on tour.
11. Angie Miller Duets with Adam Lambert. A highlight of the season 12 finale? Angie Miller’s duet of David Guetta‘s “Titanium” featuring season-eight alum Adam Lambert. It was easily the most exciting moment of the show, and a standout of the entire season.
12. Justin Guarini Pleads Poverty? The season-one runner-up made headlines over the summer after posting a heartfelt confession on his website: that he skips meals to provide for his family. “Now, I budget,” he wrote. “I have spent days skipping meals in order to make sure I have enough. To make sure my children, and my wife have enough.” A follow-up post explained that he wasn’t destitute, but rather, was trying to make a point. All wasn’t dim for Guarini, however — he landed a featured role on Broadway’s Romeo and Juliet.
13. Taylor Hicks Wins a Grammy: The season-five winner’s participation on Jimmy Fallon’s Blow Your Pants Off album resulted in a Grammy win for the comedian and his motley crew of collaborators. Indeed, Hicks’ surprise appearance in the late-night host’s send-up of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” was pure genius. The Soul Patrol couldn’t be prouder.
Honorable mention: Oscar the Puppet rapping was one of the weirdest American Idol auditions ever. The season 12 hopeful, introduced to the world by Oklahoma puppeteer Halie Hilburn, attempted a yodeling duet with her beloved sidekick. Following the try-out, she was encouraged to ditch her furry friend and subsequently flung him into a dumpster. However, he had the last laugh — re-emerging as a rapper OzCar with an amusing YouTube video.
What were your favorite Idol moments of 2013? What are you excited for in 2014? Hit us up in the comments — and happy new year!
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