Kelly Clarkson tops all American Idols in sales and radio play; all-time top 24 ranked

Billboard has ranked the top 24 American Idol contestants based on their sales of albums, singles, and radio play, and the first winner remains on top.

Kelly Clarkson beat #2 Carrie Underwood thanks to sales of singles and radio play, which is nearly double Carrie’s. Chris Daughtry is a distant but still strong number three, followed by Jordin Sparks, David Cook, and Clay Aiken.

Every winner and seven of eight runners-up (corrected: it includes every runner-up except Justin Guarini) are in the top 24, which also includes William Hung (!). Of course, those from more past seasons have an advantage with time, so expect to see Adam and Kris move up, but Clay Aiken has been off the radar for a while and is still #6.

Billboard’s story includes the raw data, but here’s the list with my addition of their season and placement:

  1. Kelly Clarkson (season 1 winner)
  2. Carrie Underwood (season 4 winner)
  3. Chris Daughtry (season 5, fourth place)
  4. Jordin Sparks (season 6, winner)
  5. David Cook (season 7, winner)
  6. Clay Aiken (season 2, runner-up)
  7. Kellie Pickler (season 5, sixth place)
  8. David Archuleta (season 7, runner-up)
  9. Fantasia (season 3, winner)
  10. Ruben Studdard (season 2, winner)
  11. Kris Allen (season 8, winner)
  12. Adam Lambert (season 8, runner-up)
  13. Jennifer Hudson (season 3, seventh place)
  14. Josh Gracin (season 2, fourth place)
  15. Elliot Yamin (season 5, third place)
  16. Katharine McPhee (season 5, runner-up)
  17. Bo Bice (season 4, runner-up)
  18. Blake Lewis (season 6, runner-up)
  19. Taylor Hicks (season 5, winner)
  20. Kimberley Locke (season 2, third place)
  21. William Hung (season 3, auditions only)
  22. Danny Gokey (season 8, third place)
  23. Diana DeGarmo (season 3, runner-up)
  24. Allison Iraheta (season 8, fourth place)
Top 24 “American Idols” Of All-Time [Billboard]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.