By Eric Ditzian
Though he will not reach the legal drinking age until 2014, let's pour one out for Aaron Kelly, the gawky balladeer who got the ol' heave-ho on "American Idol" Wednesday night (May 5). I've spent far too much of the past few months trying to wrap my head around just how the teen — whose voice I once compared to the sound of "nails on the chalkboard of a high school math class he should be sitting in instead of crooning on 'Idol'" — managed to stick around the competition this long. For now, I salute the kid for a job well done (if hardly well sung).
So what will become of young Kelly? Will he go on to a successful career as a recording artist? Or might we never hear his warbling voice again? A look back at former "Idol" contestants who got voted off in the fifth spot provides a window through which we can gaze into Kelly's potential future. Fifth-place "Idol"-ers have gone on to record albums, appear in theatrical productions and even return triumphantly to the "Idol" stage. What will become of Kelly? Will he fade away or break the mold? Let's assess some fifth-placers' highs and lows.
Success is a relative term when it comes to the fifth-place contestants. None have achieved the breakout status of a Chris Daughtry or even a Jason Castro (both came in fourth). Thus, the title of most successful goes to either Brooke White (season seven) or Phil Stacey (season six). Stacey has carved out a decent niche for himself in the country and Christian music worlds. His debut disc hit the #8 spot on the Billboard country chart, while his second album peaked at #27 on the Christian chart. White, meanwhile, managed to crack the Billboard top 200 — #50, in fact — and took the "Idol" stage last month for a duet with Justin Gaston.
This ignominious distinction goes to Scott Savol (season four). Among the singer's post-"Idol" achievements are a 2008 run as the Cowardly Lion in a musical version of "The Wizard of Oz" (staged in Lubbock, Texas) and a three-night run at Trivs Restaurant and Lounge in Strongsville, Ohio.
Most Notable Collaboration
We haven't heard much from Chris Richardson (season six), but an "Idol" performance of Jason Mraz's "Geek in Pink" paid off for the former contestant. During an April 2008 show in Virginia, Mraz brought Richardson up on stage for a duet of the tune.
Most Newsy Development
RJ Helton is perhaps less well-remembered for his turn on the first season of "Idol" and his top-20 Christian album than he is for coming out of the closet in 2006. "Just because I am gay does not mean I can't love God," he said during a radio interview.
Of course, there are eight seasons' worth of fifth-placers. Who is your favorite? Vote in the poll below! (Not that two people went home in the "fifth place" position in season six because nobody got voted off the week before.)