Underwood, Lambert, Barrino Top Forbes' Surprising Idol Earners List
Forbes has released its annual ranking of the top-earning "American Idol" alums for the past year, and it comes as no surprise that Carrie Underwood, who recently surpassed Kelly Clarkson as the most successful Idol of all time, tops the list. (Incredibly, her $20 million tally comprises 40 percent of the ENTIRE LIST, since the others on the list made $29.8 million combined!) But there are plenty of surprises on the new Forbes list--when it comes to who's on it, and, just as interestingly, who's not.
[See Full List: The Top-Earning American Idols]
$URPRI$E: ADAM'S BIG DEBUT - Adam Lambert makes his first showing on the list...and he's all the way up in the second spot, tied with fellow robbed rocker and road warrior Chris Daughtry, with an impressive $6 million total. He actually beat out the superstar likes of Jennifer Hudson (who holds steady at number six, with $2 million) and even Kelly Clarkson (who drops from number two to number five after a relatively low-key year in which she earned $2.5 million). Adam wasn't even on last year's list, which was a surprise in itself since his Season 8 castmate, Kris Allen, was. (Kris is a "near miss" on the list this year, according to Forbes, but now that he's lucratively starting to write songs for other people, like "Glee" star Matthew Morrison, he may make a reappearance next year.) While Adam's first album, For Your Entertainment, sold 821,000 copies domestically and was certified gold or platinum in six other countries, his success is also largely attributed to his gigging: His 116-date Glam Nation Tour was a rare success in 2010's troubled concert industry, and it also spawned a vast array of merchandise (like Glambert disco-ball keychains!), a live EP, and a concert DVD. If Adam if he can keep up this pace after his sophomore album comes out, he should rank high again in 2012.
$URPRI$E: FANTASIA'S BIG COMEBACK - Fantasia Barrino is well known for her money troubles (she almost lost her home in 2009, and once told People that she was so in debt, she couldn't afford a pizza), and last year she wasn't on the Forbes list at all. But this year she's all the way up at number three, with a tally of $4 million. This is thanks to her reality show "Fantasia For Real," which was VH1's biggest hit of 2010, and her comeback album Back To Me, which was her highest-charting album to date (it debuted at number two on the Billboard 200) and has so far sold almost 500,000 copies. After a year of many setbacks--she was caught up in an extramarital affair scandal, then tried to take her own life--this high Forbes ranking is very good news for Fantasia.More...