Top 20 Finalists in Talent Show History


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In every talent contest, there are winners and losers. But even some second-place finishers are really, really good. The best artists don’t always win! From american idol at The voice at To have talent shows around the world, here’s our list of the top 20 finalists in talent show history. Some of them are even more successful than their season winners.

20. Jackie Evancho

The standout opera singer took part in season five of America’s Got Talent and lost to fellow singer Michael Grimm. After the show, Jackie broke records by becoming the youngest solo artist to go platinum in the United States. Last year, she also participated in the third season of The Masked Singer in hopes of reinventing his adult image.

19. Emily Ann Roberts

Emily Ann Roberts was featured in Season 9 of The voice and lost to Jordan Smith. That season, his stunning performance of Cam’s “Burning House” earned him a standing ovation from all four coaches. Today, Emily Ann continues to release her own music and maintains an active vlog on her YouTube channel.

18. Jack Caroll

Comedian Jack Carroll was featured in the seventh series of England has an incredible talent and finished behind the shadow puppet group, Attraction. The entertainer shared that he was born with cerebral palsy and talks about his life experiences in his issue. His career has taken off since he was featured on BGT. He even appeared on screen and starred in the award-winning British comedy, Devoured by lions.

17. Jacquie Lee

Then 16-year-old singer Jacquie Lee appeared in season five of The voice and became a member of Team Christina. She lost to Tessanne Chin in the final round of the competition. Since appearing on the show, Lee has grown into his adult image and continues to make music. His latest song “Contour” is currently available to stream on Spotify.

16. Sharaya J.

Sharaya J was featured in the second season of The fourth. The rapper and choreographer came second to James Graham in an epic season battle. Known for her singles “BANJI” and “Smash Up the Place”, she released her first mixtape, Doping product in 2017. The artist is currently signed to Missy Elliott’s label, The Goldmind Inc.

15. Drew Lynch

Drew Lynch was a standout comedian on the 10th season of America has talent. Known for basing his act on his stutter, he finished behind ventriloquist Paul Zerdin that year. Today, he still pursues a career in comedy. On August 30, he released his first-ever comedy special, Confuses. The hour-long feature can be viewed on YouTube.

14. Matt McAndrew

Matt McAndrew appeared in season seven of The voice and competed on Team Adam. Her rendition of Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” turned three chairs. Although he was a standout performer that season, he ultimately came second to Craig Wayne Boyd. Today, the artist continues to work on the music. His latest single “Gloves” featuring Saint Punk premiered earlier this summer.

13. Aiken Clay

In the second season of american idol, Clay Aiken came in short behind the winner, Ruben Studdard. However, it is one of the most memorable american idol competitors of all time. Since its appearance on Idol, Clay embarked on a successful career in entertainment. Overall, he released six studio albums, made numerous television appearances, and even ran for the United States House of Representatives in North Carolina.

12. Zurcaroh

This acrobatic group appeared on America’s Got Talent on Season 13. They came in second place behind now renowned magician Shin Lim. Zurcaroh was the first act of To have talent history of receiving a Golden Buzzer on both AGT and an international version of the franchise. Today, the group is verified on Instagram and continues to perform their number live on stage.

11. Alejandro Aranda

Alejandro Aranda participated in season 17 of american idol comes in second behind Laine Hardy. Known by his stage name, Scarypoolparty, he performed three original songs in the finale: “Millennial Love”, “Tonight” and “Out Loud”. Today, the singer has a verified Instagram account with 618,000 followers. Her latest single, “The Act of Forgiveness” is out now on all platforms.

10. Seers

This mentalist duo participated in season 11 of America’s Got Talent finishing behind Grace VanderWaal. Their shocking act was impressive enough to appear on the AGT scene once again for The Champions. Today, the magic act continues to appear regularly at their Las Vegas residence.

9. Carly Rose Sonenclar

The then 17-year-old singer took part in the second season of The X Factor United States, finishing behind Tate Stevens. She competed in the teen category mentored by Britney Spears. The entertainer became an instant fan favorite after auditioning with Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” The video of her performance received 30 million views on Youtube, skyrocketing her success. Today, Carly Rose Sonenclar is active on social media and does various covers on TikTok.

8. Olly Walls

Olly Murs participated in the sixth series of The UK X factor. He reached the final in the over-25 category before finishing behind Joe McElderry. Although he did not win the show, he was signed to RCA Records and released his first single “Please Don’t Let Me Go”. Olly also took on the role of presenter for The X Factor in the 2012 series. Today, the artist actively performs his music at live events and participates in a number of charity football events.

7. Katharine McPhee

Katharine McPhee was a contestant on Season 5 of american idol, taking second place behind Taylor Hicks. Since his time on Idol, she released a self-titled album produced by RCA records. Since then, Katharine has released four more studio albums and even ventured into acting. Most recently, the singer played the lead role of Jenna on Broadway in the musical Waitress.

6. Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle was featured in the third series of England has an incredible talent. She was 47 at the time of her audition and is often remembered as one of the biggest surprises in talent show history. His audition of “I Dreamed a Dream” by Wretched left the whole room in complete shock. Since then, Susan has received an abundance of success. Her debut album reached number one, spending 39 weeks in the top 100. Ten years later, Susan returned to the I have talent for The Champions where she again placed runner-up.

5. Lauren Alaina

Lauren Alaina participated in season 10 of american idol getting behind Scotty McCreery. His Nashville audition was considered the best of the day by Randy Jackson and set up his expectations for success in the competition. Recently, the country singer released her new album Sitting Pretty On Top Of The World. In addition to new music, Alaina is set to star in a Hallmark romantic comedy this fall. At this time, the singer will also release her book Becoming Good at Being Yourself: Learning to Love the One God Made You.

4. Willie Spence

Willie Spence participated in season 19 of american idol placing himself behind Chayce Beckham. Many fans thought he was stolen this season. The R&B singer dominated the season with his powerful voice and continues to spread his message through music today. Willie also advocates a healthy lifestyle and posts many inspiring videos of his workout routines.

3. David Archuleta

The then 16-year-old contestant was a season seven contestant of american idol, placing himself behind David Cook. His rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” was his most special moment on the show, and often what he’s remembered for during his time on Idol. In 2008, David released the hit “Crush” from his self-titled debut album. Recently, he made headlines after announcing that he was part of the LGBTQ+ community. Since then the american idol star attempted to take center stage again on Tiktok and with new music.

2. Angelica Hale

This adorable singer was featured in season 12 of America’s Got Talent and finished in the competition behind Darci Lynne. She auditioned with Andra Day’s “Rise Up” and received the Golden Buzzer in the Judge Cuts Round. Hale returned to the AGT stage for The Champions and again received a Golden Buzzer, sending him straight to the finals. The 14-year-old is working with Disney to voice a new character. Angelica is set to appear in the animated special Celebrate Chuggington.

1. Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert was a contestant on season eight of american idol, finishing behind Kris Allen. He auditioned with Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and has now come full circle as the band’s frontman. In 2009, Adam faced a major backlash after his onstage scandal at the AMAs. Today, the singer embraces and defends his role within the LGBTQ+ community while balancing his successful career in music. He joins Meghan Trainor and Ester Dean this fall to judge the competition series Clash of the Cover Bands on E!, clearly ranking second on Idol didn’t hold it.

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About the Author

Catherine Di Meglio
Catherine Di Meglio is a content writer and YouTube host at Talent Recap. A lover of all things entertainment, she earned her Masters in Media Management from Wagner College in 2021. Catherine is a New York girl who has many passions including beauty and fashion, photography, travel and making memories with loved ones.

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