American Idol of 2009

Allen, 23, who won over audiences with his all-American good looks and by putting his personal spin on popular tunes, appeared shocked as Lambert, a 27-year-old musical theater actor, embraced him after host Ryan Seacrest's announcement.

Arkansas student Kris Allen won the eighth season of "American Idol" on Wednesday, dealing an unexpected defeat to singing rival Adam Lambert on the most popular U.S. television show.

The comments from Cowell and Stanley aren't necessarily empty platitudes. Past contestants can testify that losing the title doesn't mean you're a loser, nor does winning mean you're a shoo-in for superstardom.

Chris Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson, who finished fourth and seventh in their respective seasons, have gone on to huge success. As for "Idol" winners, they range from blockbuster artists like Carrie Underwood to the mostly under-the-radar Taylor Hicks.

Kelly Clarkson: The 27-year-old singer has released four albums since winning the first "Idol." Her name was immortalized in 2005 when Steve Carell screamed it out after getting his chest waxed in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Clarkson currently has two singles, "My Life Would Suck Without You" and "I Do Not Hook Up," on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Ruben Studdard: The 30-year-old crooner has also released four albums since winning the second season, including the 2004 gospel record "I Need an Angel." He is currently starring as Fats Waller in a national tour of "Ain't Misbehavin'." Studdard's most recent album, "Love IS," dropped Tuesday and features a mix of romance-themed covers and original tunes.

No comments: