At first, I was not an Allison Iraheta fan. I might even have been an Allison Iraheta hater. But the 17-year-old “American Idol” contestant won me over with her passionate rendition of “Someone to Watch Over Me” during last week’s Rat Pack tribute night. And her performance on Tuesday — a soulful cover of Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby” — had me thinking the cranberry-haired rocker was headed to the top three — and perhaps further.
But she was booted off on Wednesday’s broadcast, while Danny Gokey and lived to sing — or squeal? — another day. So, where does Iraheta go from here? A look back at former “Idol” contestants who got knocked off in the fourth spot provides both hope and concern for those of us eager to see Iraheta have a long, rocking career.
Tamyra Gray, Season One: For the inaugural season’s #4 bootee, Gray blazed an admirable path. She sang a track on “Idol” champ Kelly Clarkson’s first album Thankful, and, two years after leaving the show, came out with her debut album, on which she worked with the likes of Babyface and Scott Storch. Sticking with the “Idol” winners, Gray co-wrote Fantasia Barrino’s #1 Billboard hit, “I Believe.” Shortly after her “Idol” run, she branched out into acting, scoring a recurring role on “Boston Public.” But she’s had only small parts ever since, and it’s been five years since her last — and only — album. Success score: 3 out of 5 “Idol” stars
Josh Gracin, Season Two: Gracin’s first two albums have each cracked the top five on the country music charts, and his single, “Nothin’ to Lose” soared to #1 on the country singles chart. He’s currently in the middle of a 38-city North American tour. Success score: 4 out of 5 “Idol” stars
LaToya London, Season Three: “Appreciate,” her collaboration with Black Thought from the Roots became a top 10 Billboard hit. But her debut album, while critically praised, didn’t move too many units. She’s found a fair level of success in the musical-theater world, though, touring with Oprah Winfrey’s production of “The Color Purple.” Success score: 2 out of 5 “Idol” stars
Anthony Federov, Season Four: This guy is the worst-case scenario. He’s never released a single or an album and has been relegated to the dregs of the reality-show circuit (NBC’s “Fear Factor”) and Off-Broadway no man’s land. Last September, Federov wrote on his MySpace page that he had recorded some music and was shopping the tracks to record labels. But with no update since, those meetings can’t have gone well. Success score: 0 out of 5 “Idol” stars
Chris Daughtry, Season Five: After the Federov train wreck comes the Daughtry juggernaut. His band’s album hit #1 on the Billboard chart and just went platinum fives times over. That’s five million albums! And his upcoming disc is one of the most-anticipated releases of the summer. Iraheta might want to pay close attention to Daughtry and eschew the solo artist path in favor of putting together a band. Success score: 5 out of 5 “Idol” stars
LaKisha Jones, Season Six: The R&B-inclined Jones also appeared in “The Color People,” albeit it as Chaka Khan’s matinee replacement. Her first single was made available as an online download earlier this year, and her debut album is set to hit later this month. Her star may be on the rise, but it hasn’t shined so brightly thus far. Success score: 1.5 out of 5 “Idol” stars
Jason Castro, Season Seven: After getting the boot, Castro kept his head down and stayed busy recording music. Now he’s signed to Atlantic Records and is working with top producing talent like “Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi and Sacha Skarbek (Jason Mraz). Iraheta would — and should — be stoked to walk in Castro’s footsteps. Success score: 3.5 out of 5 “Idol” stars