American Idol lives! Following its 2016 cancellation, ABC resurrected the hit show, with the reboot making its debut (once more) this Sunday.
While we patiently wait for Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie to take on their new roles as American Idol judges, we’re looking back at where it all began for the biggest stars to come out of the show’s first 15 seasons.
Underwood claimed the Idol crown in season 4. When we first made her acquaintance, she was an Oklahoma farm girl who had never even been on a plane, but her rendition of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” proved she was destined for bigger things. For instance, winning the 2007 Grammy for best new artist.
The winner of the smash hit inaugural season had the judges charmed right from the start. Then 20 years old, Clarkson‘s performances of “Express Yourself” and “At Last” blew them away, and she even took over Randy Jackson‘s place behind the table. The singer now has seven albums and three Grammy awards to her name.
On the second season of Idol, Aiken came in second behind winner Ruben Studdard. During his audition, the confident 23-year-old impressed with a rendition of “Always and Forever,” despite Simon Cowell telling him, “You don’t look like a pop star.”
After a stint on a Disney cruise, Hudson made a grand American Idol debut with a powerful cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Share Your Love with Me.” She came in seventh place on season 3, but has since more than proved she’s a true star, with a best R&B album Grammy win and an Oscar-earning role in Dreamgirls.
Armed with lots of encouragement from her voice teacher mother, McPhee took the audition stage in the fifth season. She ultimately came in second place after Taylor Hicks. In addition to releasing albums, the singer has kept busy with acting gigs, including roles on Scorpion and Smash.
The third season winner was only 19 when she first took her chances in front of the Idol judges. She sang “Killing Me Softly” and “Rolling” for her audition, getting yeses from all three Hollywood gatekeepers.
At 16, Sparks won the judges over with a performance of “Because You Love Me.” She went on to win season 6 and has since released four studio albums. In 2010, she joined the cast of Broadway’s In the Heights.
Phillips went from pawn shop worker to global star after winning season 11. While his mom flirted with host Ryan Seacrest, he belted out “Superstition” for the judges. His debut single, “Home,” became the best-selling of all the Idol coronation songs.
Pickler shared her emotional life story with American Idol viewers in season 5. She chose Clarkson’s “Since You Been Gone” for her audition song. Although she came in sixth in the singing competition, she ended up winning it all on season 16 of Dancing with the Stars.