How “American Idol” changed pop culture forever

| Denver Post

03 Apr 2016

It might be hard to remember now, but “American Idol” had quite an impact. Though the Fox show has dropped off the grid in recent years, it created music stars and made Paula Abdul a household name again, while sparking an endless era of reality competition singing shows.

As the series ends for good on April 7, we look back on 15 seasons of “Idol.” There are hundreds of former “Idol” contestants, but here are the 12 we think are the most important to the music industry. (Note: Album sales don’t always equal importance, especially since all figures below — which are from the artist’s representatives or recent Wall Street Journal data — are approximate.)

3. Adam Lambert Second place, Season 8 Lambert’s soaring falsetto made him an instant front-runner, especially when his performance of “Mad World” drew a rare standing ovation from the always-prickly judge Simon Cowell. The Freddie Mercury comparisons started early, and by 2011, he was performing with Queen, eventually standing in for Mercury as the band’s lead singer. Lambert, 34, raked in enough cash last year to land the No. 1 spot on Forbes list of 5 Highest-Paid American Idols In 2015, earning about $10 million.

Album sales: 7 million

Popular songs: “Whataya Want from Me,” “Ghost Town,” “If I Had You”

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