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As Fans Claim Willie Spence Was ‘Robbed’ Here’s a Look Back on Some Successful ‘Idol’ Runner-Ups

Samantha Agate

Samantha Agate

ABC

Chayce Beckham was just declared the winner of Season 19 of American Idol much to the dismay of Willie Spence fans. Willie was named the runner-up, but some may have felt he out-performed everyone else in the competition this season including Chayce. This isn’t the first time viewers were totally split about America’s decision.



Season 2: Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard

Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken’s big showdown during Season 2 of American Idol ended with Studdard being declared the winner. The voting was allegedly super close during the finale. There were so many questions raised after the finale about whether or not the numbers were a bit off.

Ryan Seacrest announced during the episode that the pair were separated by 13,000 votes, but later corrected himself by saying it was actually 1,300 votes. Viewers never knew the truth and were left to figure out which artist is the real winner.

Aiken’s debut song outsold Studdard’s during its release. Aiken went on to release six studio albums of his own and conquered Broadway stages before running for Congress. Even 18 years later, fans still wonder who the true winner of Season 2 of American Idol is. There are no hard feelings between Studdard and Aiken. The pair starred in Ruben & Clay’s Christmas Show in 2018.


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Season 5: Taylor Hicks and Katherine McPhee

Effortlessly gorgeous Katherine McPhee had America falling in love with her charm and voice during Season 5 of American Idol. Taylor Hicks was kind of like the complete opposite with his soulful voice and a bit of criticism from Simon Cowell. Cowell did not think Taylor had the commercial appeal to be the next American Idol. He eventually came around to predicting Taylor to win the show, which ended up happening.

McPhee has thrown jabs at Taylor in the past for besting her in the finale, but it’s all in good fun. Truthfully, she is the real winner of the season and knows it. McPhee has done everything from landing multiple acting gigs like the lead in Smash to playing the lead role in Waitress on Broadway. She has put out five very successful albums and just welcomed a baby boy with music producer David Foster whom she first met on American Idol. She got love out of the show and fame!

Season 8: Kris Allen and Adam Lambert

Adam Lambert coming in second place on American Idol is still the most controversial thing to happen on the show to date. There is nobody out there like Lambert who is a rockstar on and off the stage. America chose Kris Allen as the winner over Lambert. Now the frontman of the Queen revival, Lambert has had a huge career selling over 5 million singles worldwide. Allen on the other hand saw the most success with his single “Live Like We’re Dying” in 2009.


Lambert has outsold, out-sang, and outperformed Allen in almost all areas of their careers. So why didn’t Lambert win American Idol? The combination of Lambert’s stage presence and spunky personality was almost unheard of in the early seasons of American Idol. The country was simply not ready for the stardom that he would achieve. He did not need the winners title to find success.

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Season 14: Nick Fradiani and Clark Beckham

Season 14 of American Idol was probably the hardest outcome to predict. Nick Fradiani and Clark Beckham had been dominating the live shows each week. Both had the love of teenage girls all over the world that were swooning over them. The competition seemed like it was in the bag for Clark after his Top 8 performance of “The Trouble with Love Is” that gave Jennifer Lopez goosebumps.

In an exclusive interview with Talent Recap, Clark admitted that he knows he can out-sing Fradiani when it comes down to vocals. However, he also knows how appealing someone like Fradiani, an incredibly talented singer/songwriter and an all-around good guy is to America. The pair are still really good friends to this day.

Season 15: Trent Harmon and La’Porsha Renae

Kelly Clarkson predicted La’Porsha Renae would win Season 15 of American Idol. Clarkson even admitted that she had never casted a vote on American Idol before until she watched La’Porsha perform. Season 2 winner Studdard also voted for La’Porsha and it was clear she had tremendous support while on the show.

The powerhouse singer opened up on the show about navigating life as a single mother and a survivor of domestic abuse. Her vulnerability throughout the season was unmatched by any other contestant. When Trent Harmon was named the winner of the final season of American Idol on Fox, many were left gutted. La’Porsha seemed like the frontrunner but it wasn’t enough to earn more votes over Trent. He infamously performed a solo during the group round of Hollywood week after getting mono.

Season 17: Laine Hardy and Alejandro Aranda

Laine Hardy auditioned twice for American Idol, the second time taking home the title in Season 17. Alejandro Aranda was named the runner-up which seriously rubbed fans the wrong way. Alejandro’s audition was so good that Katy Perry projected that he would win the entire competition. The video went viral before Alejandro dominated the competition. He even got a special shoutout from Stevie Nicks.

Unfortunately for fans of Alejandro, the country voters were out in full force to support Laine. Alejandro now has an extremely successful music career under the name Scarypoolparty. His first tour was sold out within minutes of tickets going on sale and he has released two albums under Hollywood Record’s. Laine’s career has gotten off to a bit of a slower start with the release of his song “Memorize You” out this year.

Season 18: Just Sam and Arthur Gunn

Last season, American Idol faced similar outrage when Arthur Gunn was named the runner-up with Just Sam as the winner. Sam drew viewers in with her touching story and her heartwarming relationship with her grandmother. Arthur has a very unique sound and shared his story of moving to America from Nepal. People began pinning the win on the fact that Sam had a more emotional story behind her journey on the show.

In reality, her bubbly personality may have just came across a little bit more allowing her to edge out Arthur in the voting. Arthur was since brought back for the Season 19 Comeback, and Sam spoke out about how she has severed ties with her record deal from American Idol. She was not brought back to perform at the American Idol finale. Arthur has gained more of a fan base from the show, but skipped out on his Season 19 finale performance.

Season 19: Chayce Beckham and Willie Spence

Willie probably had the most memorable audition on American Idol this season. “Diamonds” by Rihanna should never be sung on a talent show ever again since Willie performs that song like an absolute boss. Chayce was more of a dark horse for fans in the beginning though Perry predicted he would make it all the way to the Top 5.

Then just weeks ahead of the finale, the tide turned. Chayce had the competition in the bag after performing his original song “23” on the show. The song soared to the top spot on multiple iTunes charts before the Season 19 finale. While Willie has technically perfect vocals, America fell in love with the singer-songwriter country guy who poured his soul into his songs. Still, his win is being debated like a few other infamous times in American Idol history.

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About the Author

Samantha Agate

Samantha Agate is the Talent Guru here at Talent Recap. Her work has been featured at The Blast. Samantha graduated from Hunter College in 2019 with a degree in Media Studies and a Concentration in Journalism. When she isn't binge-watching reality television shows or binge-eating fried food, she loves hanging out with her friends and family and petting puppies.

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