Tonight’s season 11 American Idol finale will be without Joshua Ledet, who I think has nothing to worry about as far as carving his own path in the music business. When Ryan Seacrest said “Jessica Sanchez” as the first finalist, Ledet was toast. Sanchez will face this year’s heartthrob/charity case (too harsh?) Phillip Phillips for the season 11 crown. Honestly, I don’t care who wins, but I would prefer Jessica aka BeBe Chez since it’s been five seasons since a female won. I love Jordin Sparks! I thought it would be neat if we looked back at the past ten 3rd place contestants, and see where Joshua’s fate fits in.
Season One: Nikki McKibbin I’ll always hear “Piece of my Heart” when I think of Nikki McKibbin on Idol. Although McKibbin was initially signed to 19 Management and RCA Records after Idol was over, they wanted her to record a country album, she refused, bye-bye major record deal. The next time I saw McKibbin was four years ago on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew on VH1. Yes, she had major problems, alcohol and drug abuse. I hated to see that happen, but a part of me wasn’t surprised. She’s been sober since 2009.
Season Two: Kimberley Locke This Belmont grad gave up her day job as an administrative assistant to audition in her hometown of Nashville, and I didn’t really think Kimberley Locke would go as far as she did, but as with every season of Idol, I was proven wrong. Locke’s post-Idol career hasn’t been as rocky. She signed with Curb Records and had a modest hit, “8th World Wonder”. After parting ways with Curb, Locke signed with (gulp!) Idol judge Randy Jackson’s Dream Merchant 21 label, but she only released one single. Nowadays, Locke is running her own label/entertainment company, I AM Entertainment. Lest we forget, Locke also appeared on season 5 of VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club where she was constantly berated by Screech/Dustin Diamond, he was/still is a mega-bastard. Here’s a ditty from the group round, with disqualified contestant Frenchie Davis.
Season Three: Jasmine Trias Here’s our first 3rd placer who has not really had any post-Idol success in America. I would call Jasmine Trias one of the weaker contestants ever on the show. In fact, she may be the weakest out of all the 3rd placers. She does share a distinction with Jessica Sanchez, both are the only Filipino-Americans to reach the top 4 and top 3, and well, I guess Sanchez would be the first to make the finals. And where has the bulk of Trias’ success been, in the Philippines! Jasmine’s last whereabouts? In 2009 performing in Vegas with the Society of Seven, but she left the show a year later. The YouTube collection was bare or many were removed, but here’s “I’ll Never Love This Way Again”. Aloha!
Season Four: Vonzell Solomon Back to the good stuff. Vonzell Solomon was our first 3rd placer to be railroaded out of the finale which was made up of winner Carrie Underwood and runner-up Bo Bice. Solomon’s post-Idol career has had its non-music moments. Her Florida home burned in 2007, in 2008, Solomon was detained by security at a Florida airport when an unloaded gun was discovered in her luggage. But since she had a license to carry the weapon, she not arrested and charges were not pressed. And since Solomon was the highest-finishing contestant NOT offered a record contract from Idol (What?, this is the first time I’ve heard this!), she started her own independent label, Melodic Records. Baby V has the distinction of singing Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” on Idol and the song has been to death on the show ever since. Unfortunately, all of Solomon’s Idol performance videos have been pulled off YouTube. However, here is her “Idol Journey” video, it’s the best I could do, I guess she got thrown under the bus again.
Season Five: Eillott Yamin Season Five is where things started to get weird. Finishing behind Yamin in 4th place was Chris Daughtry, and we all know by now how big a success he’s become, oops America! Yamin is another 3rd placer who has not been totally forgotten. He ended up with a publishing deal at Sony/ATV and his post-Idol career started out slow. It wasn’t until a year after Idol that Yamin scored his first and only top 40 hit, “Wait For You”. His charity work has been more prominent in his post-Idol days as he appeared alongside then judge Kara DioGuardi in Angola as part of the Idol Gives Back special. He is also a help to juvenile diabetes charities as he was diagnosed with Type 1 when he was 16. Here is hands down Yamin’s best Idol performance, “A Song for You”
Season Six: Melinda Doolittle I love me some her! Another Nashville girl, Melinda Doolittle was by far one of my favorite contestants ever. Like Joshua Ledet, it seemed like week to week, she could do no wrong. I’d say, to a degree, she was a bit railroaded out of the finals which consisted of Blake Lewis (what the hell does he do now!?!) and the last female winner, Jordin Sparks. In fact, when Simon Cowell appeared on Good Morning America, he said the season six title should have gone to Doolittle. Wow! One of the reasons I REALLY miss Simon. Post-Idol Doolittle’s recording career hasn’t been the best, but I love seeing her on TV Line writer Michael Slezak’s weekly web series, Idology. She also mourns the loss of Ledet in the competition. Here’s the performance that might have gotten her the ax…but I still love her!
Season Seven: Syesha Mercado Now that’s a name I did not remember. Syesha Mercado‘s post-Idol career? Thin. Much like Vonzell and Trias, Mercado is another one who just couldn’t quite break through after the show and Idols Live! tour. As you’ll see in her Wikipedia, she done some theater and that’s about it. Here’s one of her top 3 week performances, “If I Ain’t Got You”
Season Eight: Danny Gokey Surprisingly, Danny Gokey went country post-Idol. I always liked his voice, but it just got old by the end. And Gokey was one of the first contestants to bring a sad story along with him, his wife of 12 years died four weeks before he auditioned. I work in country radio, so I’m very familiar with Gokey’s first country single he put out in 2009, “My Best Days Are Ahead Of Me”. As of November of last year, Gokey is no longer with RCA Nashville. Oh those glasses!
Season Nine: Casey James This is the only “White Guy With Guitar” in the competition I mildly enjoyed. Casey James came into Idol with rock and blues roots and he delivered just about every week. Another “White Guy With Guitar” would win season 9, where in the world is Lee DeWyze??? His only time in the bottom 3 was when he took on Shania Twain’s “Don’t”…huh? Post-Idol, Casey is only other Idol person besides Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Scotty McCreery to currently chart a single, “Let’s Don’t Call It A Night”. It peaked at 21, not bad. His follow-up, “Crying on a Suitcase” is set to hit country radio in June. Here’s Casey in his Idol days with John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”
Season Ten: Haley Reinhart Okay, here’s where I really didn’t care anymore. I never liked Haley Reinhart, sorry Steven Tyler and Michael Slezak. She’s another one who falls into the “weak” contestant category for me. Her growl made me angry, and what made me the most angry? When she pulled out a Lady GaGa song THAT HAD YET TO BE OFFICIALLY RELEASED by Mother Monster! The worst idea ever. But she had that whole “Led Zeppelin” thing on her side and she clawed her way into the top 3. Reinhart still has a major deal with Interscope/19, but I doubt she’ll keep it for very long. UGH! Though it pains me, here’s “You and I” from Idol.
So who will take the crown? And will Josh Ledet outsell him or her? Who’s your favorite 3rd placer?