This week America crowned the 15th and final American Idol Winner. The hit singing competition debuted on June 11, 2002, going on to become one of the most successful television shows in history. Idol launched the career of many talented singers. Let’s reminisce as we look back and explore the names of American Idol’s winners.
Kelly Clarkson – Season 1 Winner, 2002
Kelly Brianne Clarkson was the first and is one of the most recognizable winners of American Idol. Clarkson is a three-time Grammy winner and has release seven studio albums. Kelly is an anglicized spelling of an Irish surname meaning war. Currently Number 432 in popularity, Kelly peaked in 1977 when it was the 10th most popular name for girls. A popular name for girls throughout the 1970s and 80s, Kelly is a unisex name that may make a fresh choice if used on a boy today. Clarkson married to Brandon Blackstok in 2013. They have a daughter named River Rose and are expecting a baby boy.
Ruben Studdard – Season 2 Winner, 2003
Christopher Ruben Studdard was affectionately nicknamed the “Velvet Teddy Bear,” while preforming on the second season of American Idol. Studdard has released five studio albums and went on to appear on the hit TV show The Biggest Loser. Ruben is a spelling variation of the Hebrew name Reuben, meaning “behold, a son.” At 357 in popularity Ruben is actually a more popular spelling than Reuben in the U.S. Ruben would be a cool name to use to get to the nickname Ben.
Fantasia Barrino – Season 3 Winner, 2004
Fantasia Monique Barrino is one of the few artists with a name so iconic that she is easily recognizable by first name alone. Fantasia is a Grammy winner and appeared in the Broadway musical The Color Purple. Fantasia is a mystical sounding name meaning fantasy or imagination. Aside from Fantasia Barrino, Fantasia is probably best recognized as the 1940 Disney animated film, Fantasia. Fantasia is the mother of daughter Zion Quari and son Dallas Xavier.
Carrie Underwood – Season 4 Winner, 2005
Carrie Marie Underwood is one of the biggest stars to have come out of American Idol. Underwood has numerous awards and achievements, including seven Grammy awards and six consecutive Number 1 albums on the Billboard’s Top Country Album chart. Carrie is a diminutive of Carol or Caroline meaning free man. Carrie peaked in 1977, and fell out of the Top 1,000 in 2008. The popularity of the similar sounding Carly may have contributed to the decline of Carrie being used. Underwood married Mike Fisher in 2010. They welcomed son Isaiah Michael in February 2015.
Taylor Hicks – Season 5 Winner, 2006
Taylor Reuben Hicks currently has a successful residency in Las Vegas and continues to tour. Hicks is also the co-owner of an Alabama BBQ restaurant called Saw’s Juke Joint. Taylor is an English occupational name for a tailor, fittingly meaning to cut. Taylor is a unisex name that is currently more popular for girls. At spot 435 Taylor is still being used for boys, and got some visibility when teen heartthrob Taylor Lautner appeared in the Twilight films.
Jordin Sparks – Season 6 Winner, 2007
At age 17 Jordin Brianna Sparks became the youngest American Idol winner. One of Spark’s biggest successes was her collaboration with Chis Brown in the 2008 single No Air, which earned her a Grammy nomination. Jordin is a spelling variation of the Hebrew name Jordan, meaning flowing down. The spelling Jordin briefly entered the US Top 1,000 from 2007-2009, most likely boosted by Sparks. Jordan peaked in popularity for girls and boys in the late 1990s.
David Cook – Season 7 Winner, 2008
David Roland Cook broke numerous Billboard records the week following his idol win. Cook parted ways with RCA records in 2012 and moved to Tulsa where he joined the band Midwest Kings. Chances are that you know quite a few men named David. David has always been a popular name in the US, never dipping below spot 32, it is currently ranked at Number 18. A Hebrew name meaning beloved, David is a classic name popular in many countries. Cook married longtime girlfriend, Rachael Stump in 2015.
Kris Allen – Season 8 Winner, 2009
Kristopher Neil “Kris” Allen may not have reached the success of season 8 runner-up, Adam Lambert, but he did debut a hit single Live Like We’re Dying, in 2009. Kristopher is a spelling variation of Christopher, meaning bearing Christ. Christopher is quite popular at Number 30, though Kristopher also appears on the charts at spot 591. Actors Jane Seymour and James Keach used the name Kristopher for one of their twin sons in 1995. Kris Allen and wife Katy O’Connell welcomed son Oliver Neil in 2013. They’re expecting their second child this June.
Lee DeWyze – Season 9 Winner, 2010
Leon James “Lee” DeWyze, Jr.’s debut album peaked at Number 19 on the Billboard charts. DeWyze’s rendition of Blackbird Song was featured on season four of the AMC hit show, The Walking Dead. Leon comes from a Greek name meaning lion. Currently Number 321 in the US, Leon is a Top 20 name in Austria, Croatia, Norway, and Switzerland. Though Lee can be a nickname for Leon, as used by DeWyze, it is also a given name meaning meadow or clearing. DeWyze married Jonna Walsh in 2012.
Scotty McCreery – Season 10 Winner, 2011
Scott Cooke “Scotty” McCreery was Idol’s youngest male winner at age 17. A country star sensation, McCreery has sold over 2.5 million albums. McCreery’s debut album, Clear as Day, was certified platinum. Scott is a crisp, one-syllable, English and Irish surname referring to a person from Scotland. Scott peaked in 1971 when it was the 10th most popular name for boys. Currently Number 425, Scott does have some other cool associations, including writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and Scott Lang, also known as Marvel comics Ant Man.
Phillip Phillips – Season 11 Winner, 2012
A name so nice, it’s used twice by Phillip LaDon Phillips Jr. One of the most memorable songs to have come from Idol is Phillips coronation song Home. Home was the best-selling coronation song in Idol history, and was used in the NBC Olympic coverage. Phillip is a spelling variation of the Greek name Philip, meaning lover of horses. Phillip is currently Number 391 in popularity, just a tad behind Philip at 389. Nicknames such as Pip or Flip could make for fun fresh alternatives to the more familiar Phil. Phillips married Hannah Blackwell in 2015.
Candice Glover – Season 12 Winner, 2013
Candice Rickelle Glover has not yet produced a hit single, though she has continued to perform at corporate and professional sporting events. Rumor has it that she has a second album in the works. Candice is a spelling variation of the Biblical name Candace, the title of a queen or mother of a queen. Candice peaked in 1982 when it ranked at Number 78. Both Candice and Candice were fashionable in the 1980s and neither currently appear in the Top 1,000. One of the most notable bearers of this name is actress Candice Bergen.
Caleb Johnson – Season 13 Winner, 2014
Caleb Perry Johnson’s debut album, Testify, was released less than three months after his Idol win. The song Holding On, from Johnson’s sophomore album was just released in February 2016. Caleb is a handsome Hebrew name meaning faithful or dog. Currently 35 in popularity, Caleb was also commonly used among the Puritans. Several celebrities have chosen this wearable Biblical name. Bill Murray, Jack Nicholson, and Julianne Moore all have sons named Caleb.
Nick Fradiani – Season 14 Winner, 2015
While we await the debut of his first album, Nick Fradiani’s first single, Beautiful Life, appeared in the Billboard Hot 100 charts last year. Frandiani also appeared on America’s Got Talent in 2014 with his band Mohegan Sun. Nick is an English name, most commonly used as a diminutive of names like Nicholas or Dominic. Actors Nick Sandow and Nick Stevenson also share the given name Nick. A few other great names that Nick could serve as a nickname to include Nicodemus, Nikolai, and Nixon.
Trent Harmon – Season 15 Winner, 2016
Trent William Harmon was crowned the 15th and final winner of American Idol on April 7, 2015. Harmon will kick off his career with his single, Falling, which was co-written by Idol judge Keith Urban. Trent is an English surname originally used to describe someone who lived near the River Trent in England. Trent peaked in 2001, and currently sits in the middle of the Top 1,000 at Number 499 in popularity.
Which American Idol gets your vote for the best name?