Talent Recap

Famous Singers That You Might Not Know Competed on Talent Shows

Kane Brown and Todrick HallFox/ABC

Reading Time: 6 minutes

It’s no secret that talent shows have the potential to launch huge careers. Some of the biggest stars in the entire world got their start on American Idol like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Hudson. The X Factor has also produced huge groups such as One Direction and Little Mix. You’d be surprised to find out how many other popular singers got their start on some of your favorite talent shows.

Did You Know That These Famous Singers Got Their Start on Talent Competition Shows?

1. Tori Kelly Auditioned for ‘American Idol’

At 16 years old, Tori Kelly auditioned for Season 9 of American Idol. Simon Cowell was the only judge not impressed by her rendition of “Gravity” by John Mayer during her audition. He called her voice “annoying.” Kelly was cut from the Top 24 in what was probably the biggest mistake the judges ever made. She’s now a two-time Grammy winner with four studio albums, voices an animated character in the movie Sing, and was one of the best vocalists on The Masked Singer ever. She was just a celebrity duet partner on Season 19 of American Idol this year. 


2. Todrick Hall Also Competed on ‘American Idol’

Todrick Hall was already a Broadway star when he auditioned for American Idol in Season 9. He auditioned with a special song that he wrote just for the judges. Randy Jackson said he had one of the best auditions of the season. Hall performed a memorable rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” during the competition and was eliminated in the Top 16. Hall has gone on to become one of the franchise’s most successful stars. He is a choreographer for the stars, frequent RuPaul’s Drag Race guest judge, appears in Taylor Swift’s music videos, and even made his way back to Broadway. His songs have gone viral on TikTok. 

3. Olly Murs Went From Contestant to Host

Olly Murs, one of the biggest stars in the U.K., came in second on The X Factor Season 6 in 2009. He found loads of success with his music, especially the songs “Troublemaker” and “Dance With Me Tonight.” He sold over 13 million records at the start of his career. Murs went from contestant to host on The X Factor for Season 12 alongside the late Caroline Flack. He did make some very cringe-worthy mistakes while hosting the show. He began coaching ​​The Voice UK in 2018 and won Season 8 and Season 9 back to back.

4. Normani and Camila Cabello Got Their Start with Fifth Harmony

Normani and Camila Cabello are two super successful artists who rose to fame in the exact same way. They were members of Fifth Harmony, the girl group that formed on The X Factor in 2012. They finished third after being mentored by Cowell and signed a record deal with Syco and Epic Records. Cabello announced her departure from the group in 2016. The rest of the group went on hiatus in 2018. All of the members of Fifth Harmony have gone on to pursue their own solo careers, but Normani and Cabello have been hitting some huge milestones lately. Cabello just starred in Cinderella and is dating Shawn Mendes. She has billions of streams on Spotify with hits like “Havana” and “Señorita.” Normani just collaborated with Cardi B and also slayed Season 24 of Dancing with the Stars.

5. Jimmie Allen is one of ‘American Idol’s Biggest Country Stars

Jimmie Allen is currently competing on Season 30 of Dancing with the Stars. Much like Kelly, Allen was also brought back for the celebrity duets on American Idol in Season 19. He himself actually competed on Season 10 of the show. 

The “Freedom Was a Highway” singer made it to the Top 40 on his season and became friends with eventual winner Scotty McCreery. They later went on tour together. Allen made history at the 2021 ACM Awards as the first black solo artist to win New Male Artist of the Year. 

6. Kane Brown Quit ‘The X Factor’

​​Kane Brown was really good friends with Season 10 American Idol runner up Lauren Alaina. Brown was inspired by her to try out for the show. He was turned away by producers because they allegedly claimed they “didn’t need another Scotty McCreery.” He was not discouraged from going onto other talent shows. Brown did go on to audition for The X Factor. When they tried to put him in a boy band, he quit the show. He went home and started posting covers online. It eventually led to a record deal. His song “Used To Love You Sober” became an instant success and the rest is history. He opened for Florida Georgia Line and has since put out some of the greatest country hits. 

7. Maren Morris and Bebe Rexha Were Both Rejected From Shows

Maren Morris and Bebe Rexha are just two more of the superstars rejected by American Idol. Rexha waited 10 hours in line to audition. She didn’t make it through. Ironically, she was brought back as a mentor 10 years later. Her song “Meant to Be” with Florida Georgia Line has over 1 billion streams on Spotify. Morris auditioned for multiple talent shows including American Idol, America’s Got Talent, and The Voice. She was 17 during her Idol audition and didn’t even get to sing in front of the judges. She was rejected by a young producer with a group of other hopefuls after singing for “eight seconds.” She still remembers crying on the way home with her mom. It obviously all worked out for her too since she is one of the biggest country superstars in the world.

8. Cupid Auditioned for ‘The Voice’

Talent shows like The Voice are often used as a platform to help people relaunch their careers. Cupid auditioned for The Voice in 2012, the same Cupid that sings “Cupid Shuffle.” He performed the song for his Blind Audition and sadly none of the coaches turned their chairs. CeeLo Green did recognize him so I guess that’s something. 

9. Morgan Wallen Started Out on ‘The Voice’

Earlier this year, The Voice alum Morgan Wallen found himself under fire after a video surfaced where he was heard using the N-word. Despite being barred from country radio and suspended from his record deal, his music has been more popular than ever. His album, Dangerous: The Double Album, was the most popular album in the U.S. for the first half of the year. He recently announced he would be headlining a series of concerts in October. He has become one of the most-streamed country singers to come from a talent show amid controversy.

10. E.G. Daily Brought Nostalgia to ‘The Voice’

Here is some nostalgia for the ’90s kids out there. Hearing the name E.G. Daily might not ring a bell immediately, but once you hear her talk and sing, you’ll remember exactly who she is. Daily competed on Season 5 of The Voice on Team Blake. She is best known for her animation voice roles as Tommy Pickles on Rugrats, its spin-off All Grown Up!, and Buttercup on The Powerpuff Girls. She is a legend for sure on stage and on our television screens.

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