Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Hudson are some of the most famous names to come from American Idol. These stars certainly deserve their fame, but what about the lesser-known American Idol alumni? Singers like MacKenzie Bourg and Elise Testone are sometimes forgotten in Idol discourse because of their eliminations or where their careers went after the singing competition. However, many fans believe the world has seriously slept on these artists. Here’s a closer look at Bourg, Testone, and more underrated American Idol contestants.
Bo Bice (Season 4)
Let’s start with Bo Bice, the runner-up of American Idol Season 4. He took a big risk as one of the first Idol contestants within the rock genre, but it paid off. All three judges — even the notoriously brutal Simon Cowell — loved his audition song, The Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post.” He continued to take risks with songs like “In a Dream” by Badlands and became a fan-favorite.
Bice was popular for a few years after Idol as he released his hit single “Inside Your Heaven” and a few albums. However, he has since fallen into the shadows. Bice did return for American Idol’s Farewell Season on Fox in 2016, though, reminding everyone that he and his voice deserved better.
Blake Lewis (season 6)
Another American Idol runner-up who is often overshadowed by the winner of his season is Blake Lewis. He lost to Jordin Sparks in season 6. Lewis stood out from his competitors as a talented beatboxer, showing off his skills in a group performance of “How Deep Is Your Love” by the Bee Gees. Cowell doubted Lewis’ true talent at first, but he quickly joined Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson in seeing Lewis as a front-runner.
Lewis made many songs re-enter the Billboard charts with his performances, such as Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know.” After Idol, he went on to release four studio albums, but Lewis hasn’t been recognized in mainstream music since the show.
Alison Iraheta (season 8)
Season 8’s Alison Iraheta is often seen by American Idol fans as an underrated contestant. She finished the competition in fourth place. Despite being only 16 years old, Iraheta had a maturity in her voice that other singers take years to achieve. Abdul saw Iraheta as the dark horse of the season. Her performance of “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt even made Jackson compare her to Kelly Clarkson. Her elimination in the Top 4 shocked viewers everywhere.
“Allison had originality and talent with her being a female rocker. I was cheering for her to win that season and she was underrated and I feel like she was overlooked compared to the other contestants that season. She was in the bottom 3 too many times,” one fan wrote in a Reddit thread about contestants who should have won.
Elise Testone (season 11)
Many viewers and the judges thought Elise Testone was one of the top contenders on American Idol Season 11. Her performances of Billy Joel’s “Vienna” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” in particular, showed off her incredible control, rasp, and unique tone. Despite this, Testone was placed in the Bottom 3 more than once. At one point, Jennifer Lopez expressed disappointment in America’s lack of votes for Testone.
Testone was eliminated in the Top 6. After Idol, she released two albums but mostly fell under the radar.
“I think her attitude to always being in the Bottom 3 overshadowed how good of a singer she actually was. I will never forget that run she did at the end of ‘Vienna,’ not to mention the RASPPPPP she had in her voice,” one fan wrote on Reddit in a discussion about underrated American Idol contestants.
MacKenzie Bourg (season 15)
Finally, we have MacKenzie Bourg of American Idol Season 15. He had previously competed on The Voice Season 3 and was eliminated in the live shows. Bourg stood out in his Idol audition with an original song, “Roses,” and fans fell in love with him and his smooth vocals right away. Still, he came in fourth place. After Idol, Bourg released his original song, but he never released a full album. The world needs more of Bourg’s voice!
Who will become the next Idol? Watch American Idol Season 21 on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC to find out.