May 17, 2007— -- It was the shock heard around the "Idol" world.
"American Idol" judge Simon Cowell's pick for the final two -- Melinda Doolittle -- was voted off Wednesday night's show.
Host Ryan Seacrest told Doolittle the words no "Idol" contestant ever wants to hear: "America has decided that this is the end of the road for you." And as tradition goes, she sang a final tune, Peggy Lee's "I'm a Woman."
But will it really be the end of the road for the 29-year-old backup singer from Brentwood, Tenn.?
The success of former "Idol" rejects suggests not.
Taylor Hicks may have won the title in the fifth season of "American Idol," but he's currently being upstaged by an "Idol" loser Chris Daughtry. Hicks' album has sold 700,000 copies, while Daughtry's self-titled album has sold more than 2.4 million copies.
Michael Slezak, senior writer for Entertainment Weekly.com., told ABC News, "I think it's now easier for contestants who didn't go all the way … to be taken a little more seriously by the recording industry."
Katharine McPhee was runner-up on season five of "American Idol." Her self-titled debut album sold 116,000 copies in its first week, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album's first single, "Over It," was a Top 40 hit.
Elliott Yamin, the third place finalist on that same season, had his album debut at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 96,000 copies in its first week -- the highest-ever debut for an independent artist in the history of Billboard magazine.
Slezak sees a similar future for Doolittle.
"If Melinda makes the right record and is marketed correctly, I think she could do sensationally well," he said.
You don't have to finish first to become a success, but these "Idols" have shown it can certainly help.
America's first "Idol," Kelly Clarkson, has been burning up the charts since she vanished from the "Idol" stage. Her last album sold 5.7 million copies.
Clarkson's first single, "A Moment Like This," earned her platinum sales. She came out with two more albums, and "Breakaway," which sold more than 5 million copies, earned Clarkson two Grammys. Her third album will be released in a little more a month.
Not far behind Clarkson is season four's winner, Carrie Underwood. She has sold 5.4 million records.
"Some Hearts" was a smash hit, selling more than 300,000 copies in its first week and eventually going triple platinum.
Underwood recently won single record of the year for "Jesus, Take the Wheel," at the Academy of Country Music Awards, where she also won top female vocalist. She was also the only double winner at the Country Music Television Awards, where she won for breakthrough video and best female video.
Doolittle's loss on Wednesday night's "American Idol" may have been a sad surprise to her and her fans, but it could become a blessing in disguise.
Even though either Jordin Sparks or Blake Lewis will become this season's "American Idol," Doolittle still could finish first as America's sweetheart.