America's Would Be 'Idols': Where Are They Now?

PHOTO: Sanjaya Malakar performs on "American Idol", left, in 2007 and again in 2011
AP/Getty Images

Phillip Phillips bested Jessica Sanchez Wednesday night to become the newest "American Idol" champ.

But what will become of season 11's other contenders?

An "Idol" stint in no way guarantees lasting stardom. Even winning the coveted title isn't a sure sign that you'll find a home on the Billboard charts (See: Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard).

Some contestants, once household names, have vanished into oblivion. We've rounded up five of them:

PHOTO: Sanjaya Malakar performs on "American Idol", left, in 2007 and again in 2011
AP/Getty Images
Sanjaya Malakar

You'd think with a name as catchy as Sanjaya, this season 6 contestant would've had a shot at remaining a C-list celebrity. For a while, he extended his 15 minutes, performing in Japan, writing a book and appearing on the reality competition show, "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" Now, he's working on a self-produced album and supporting himself by working odd jobs at pizza parlors and bars. "You just have to feed yourself," he told ABC News' "Nightline." He still gets recognized on the street, and he's grateful for it. "The fans are the people that make other people know who you are," he said. "Ones I've met are passionate and wonderful. Every time I write a song, I hope it will speak to them."

PHOTO: Justin Guarini attends the Drama League's 27th Annual All-Star Benefit gala at The Pierre Hotel, Feb. 7, 2011 in New York City.
Jemal Countess/Getty Images
Justin Guarini

The season 1 runner-up is still chugging along in showbiz, if not as lucratively as the contestant who bested him, Kelly Clarkson. A four-year gig as a red carpet host for the TV Guide Network kept him in the company of celebrities and led to multiple acting gigs, including "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" and "American Idiot." But his most well-known post-"Idol" job may be the much-panned 2003 movie "From Justin to Kelly," in which he starred with Clarkson. "It's playing on HBO all the time," Guarini told the Daily Beast. "It's hilarious, because every couple of quarters I get a check from SAG and it makes me giggle. I loved making that movie. If I had to go back, I'd definitely do it again."

PHOTO: Taylor Hicks attends the 4th Annual Life Changing Lives Gala Honoring Muhammad Ali at City National Grove of Anaheim, Sept. 11, 2011 in Anaheim, Calif.
Allen Berezovsky/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Taylor Hicks

He was the gray-haired winner of season 5 whose soulful vocals earned him comparisons to Michael McDonald and whose fans were dubbed the "Soul Patrol." After his debut album went platinum, it was all downhill for Taylor Hicks. His label, Arista, dropped him from its roster a year later, so Hicks released his next album on his own. He also joined a traveling production of "Grease" before moving to Nashville to, you guessed it, remake himself as a country artist. At least for this summer, things are looking up: Hicks will headline in Las Vegas at a nightly performance at Bally's -- the first Idol to do so.

PHOTO: Diana DeGarmo arrives at the MOCA Gala 2011, Nov. 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, Calif.
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Diana DeGarmo

Diana DeGarmo was only 17 when she finished second to season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino, so when her label, RCA, pushed her to be the next Kelly Clarkson, she obliged. Her debut album sold less than 200,000 copies and within a year RCA released DeGarmo from her contract. She is now free to pursue becoming what she always wanted to be, a country artist. But she's also pulled to musical theater, making her 2006 Broadway debut in "Hair," where she met current boyfriend and season 5 "Idol" finalist Ace Young. Her rave performances on stage earned her a spot on the soap, "The Young and the Restless," where she plays Angelina, the daughter of resident mobster, Angelo.

PHOTO: Lee Dewyze arrives at Drai's Hollywood, Feb. 26, 2011 in Hollywood, Calif.
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Rolling Stone
Lee DeWyze

Lee DeWyze has the dubious distinction of being the least successful "American Idol" winner in the show's history. After his album debuted with the lowest sales of any "Idol" winner, DeWyze's label, RCA, ditched him. "I can't sit here and say winning 'American Idol' was everything I thought it would be," he wrote in a blog post for the Daily Beast. Now, DeWyze is working on the album he always wanted to make on his own. "I'm going to be happy because I know that what I'm doing right now is what I'm supposed to be doing," he wrote.

David Hernandez

David Hernandez made jaws drop during "American Idol" season seven when he announced he was once a stripper at a gay club. "I was 22-years-old, and it was a way of making an honest living," he told "Nightline." "I don't regret anything."

Hernandez, 28, said singing is paying the bills now. Fresh off an album release, he said he's working on a second with Black Eyed Peas producer Printz Board and has been on several different group tours including "Ballroom with a Twist" and "Jersey Rocks."

"I haven't had a regular job, so to speak, for the last four years," he said. "Everyone thinks you're going to have a record deal when you come off that show. You know, but the truth is is that you could place second or third or fourth or fifth -- you know, I was twelfth. So I'm thankful to have what I have now."

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