10 ‘American Idol’ Stars Who Have Disappeared, What Caused Their Downfall?

Catherine DiMeglio
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Antonella Barba auditions for "American Idol"Fox

Arrests, scandals, and straight up career changes. Some American Idol stars really disappear from the limelight after the show. Here are ten American Idol contestants who have truly vanished. Find out what caused their falls from stardom.

1. Antonella Barba

At just 19 years old, Antonella auditioned for season six of American Idol. She made it all the way to the top 16, and her fans even referred to themselves as “fantonellas.” But in 2010, Antonella was charged with two misdemeanors for shoplifting. 

Then, in 2018, she was arrested on a felony charge of distributing more than 100 grams of heroin. She was indicted on 11 federal charges, and was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison. Her mother and legal team said her elimination from Idol and her move to Los Angeles were the leading causes of her downfall. 

2. Bo Bice

Bo Bice was the runner-up to Carrie Underwood in season four of Idol. During his time on the show, he was known for his country rock persona and long, luscious hair. Following his elimination, Bo released his album, The Real Thing, but it wasn’t real enough. 

Due to its limited success, he was dropped by RCA records. From 2013 to 2018, he tried to take the lead on music again, and was the lead singer for a jazz-rock band, called Blood Sweat & Tears. These days, Bo keeps a low profile, and spends most of his time with his wife and kids. He still performs some acoustic gigs at bars, but he definitely dimmed from the spotlight. 

3. Lindsey Cardinale

Lindsey Cardinale was also a contestant on Idol’s fourth season. Her story is probably one you didn’t see coming, as her other passions don’t align with music at all. Since leaving American Idol in 2005, Lindsey has divided her time between singing and her passion of competing in rodeos. She’s even won several competitions and participated at the World Series of Team Roping in Texas.

The talent show alum did attempt to get back into the music scene in 2015, though her efforts didn’t quite reach the public. Today, Lindsey is a proud mom and show’s off her growing family on Instagram. Her children even take after her, as they are seen dressed as cowboys in some of her posts.

4. Corey Clark

This next one is pretty scandalous. Corey Clark is the singer best known for being disqualified in season two after failing to disclose his arrest for battery. Four days after he became one of the final 32 American Idol contestants, he was charged by the Kansas District Court and was sentenced to six months of probation.

Two years later, he came back into the headlines claiming that he was having an intimate relationship with Paula Abdul during the show. The accusations were pretty extraordinary, and of course, Abdul denied the allegations. After that all died down, he reportedly went back to college and became an Uber driver in the state of California.

5. Brian Dunkleman

Speaking of Idol stars who now drive for Uber: former American Idol host, Brian Dunkleman. Dunkleman co-hosted Idol’s inaugural season alongside Ryan Seacrest. Unfortunately, we have come to discover that his life was in a whirlwind during his brief time on the show. Recently, he opened up about some serious substance abuse issues he battled while hosting Idol.

Dunkleman also admitted that he and Seacrest did not get along. If all that wasn’t bad enough, he also dealt with suicidal thoughts during this period of time. Years later, he decided to pursue a career in stand up comedy, which wasn’t very successful. After his divorce in 2019, he made headlines when he chose to become an Uber driver to support his son. Today, he says he’s just trying to be the best dad he can and even posts videos with his son on YouTube for their channel The Dunks.

6. William Hung

Over a decade ago William Hung took the world by storm with his hilarious rendition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.” His awful singing, but infectious personality left us and the judges cracking up, but as we know, he never made it past his audition. So what happened to him after he disappeared from IdolHe is now a financial coach who concentrates on helping professional card players secure their funds for the future. He’s definitely given up on singing, but he seems to be doing great in his new career. William even wrote a book to share his financial advice with us all.  

7. Sanjaya Malakar

Sanjaya Malakar is hands down one of the most memorable contestants in all of Idol history, but not for the best reason. He is considered by many to be the worst Idol finalist despite being voted for week after week. Shockingly, Sanjaya actually made it to the top seven on season six, and funny enough, ratings dropped after his elimination. 

After American Idol, he made a number of television appearances and was the center of countless parodies. He even made a surprise appearance on Idol in 2018, when he took part in a flashback, time capsule sketch. Today however, he is reported to be a bartender in New York City, and still takes singing gigs from time to time. 

8. Jim Verraros

Jim Verraros faced adversity early on, as he was the show’s first openly gay contestant. He was told to remove all references to his sexuality from his blog during season one, but did end up coming out while on the American Idol tour. Though season one took place in 2002, Idol has attempted to conceal the true identities of their contestants for years.

After appearing in a number of low-budget film projects, Jim kept more of a low profile, and even took a stab at fashion design. He remained good friends with Kelly Clarkson after the show, and even helped design the headpiece she wore at her 2013 wedding. Today, he has his own accounting and financing practice and he’s engaged. I can’t wait to see what he designs for his own wedding. 

9. Jessica Sierra

Jessica Sierra is yet another Idol contestant who has faced issues with the law. She was described by Simon Cowell as one of the strongest female vocalists to appear on the show, however, she placed 10th on the show’s fourth season. Following her time on Idol, the once highly-regarded singer faced a number of legal issues. In 2007, Sierra was arrested after throwing a glass at a fellow bar patron. During her booking, cocaine was found in her purse. 

The Idol alum then appeared on Celebrity Rehab, before being arrested yet again. This time around, she served a jail sentence, plus 12 months in rehab. To top it all off, she was threatened with the distribution of a home made sex tape that was aimed to be released around the premiere of Idol’s seventh season. All this kept her in the headlines for a few years, but today she is no longer in the public eye.

10. Taylor Hicks

In 2006, the then 29-year-old won American Idol against, Katharine McPhee who I think we can all agree is considerably more famous. Since Idol, Hicks attempted to release a few albums, however he was dropped from his label in 2008 after inconsistent record sales. 

Today, he is the co-owner of Saw’s Juke Joint in Birmingham, Alabama. At his place, you can still see him take the stage from time to time as he rock’s out on his own terms. While Hicks is no longer centered in the public eye, he will be making an appearance in the romantic comedy “Stars Fell on Alabama” where some of his original songs will be featured. I think it’s fair to say that he didn’t completely disappeared from the industry, but he certainly didn’t skyrocket to fame like some of his fellow Idol winners.

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