In early 2018, ABC brought American Idol back after being cancelled by Fox after 15 seasons.
We’ve witnessed countless incredible performances and have met some of the biggest superstars in the music industry because of it. (We’re lookin’ at you, Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.)
While American Idol has produced many superstars, did y’all know it’s also rejected its fair share of them too?
Many singers learn from the audition process, or realize that it just wasn’t meant to be. For the following country singers, being rejected from American Idol might have been the best thing for their career.
Let’s check out the seven surprising American Idol alumni who went on the become country stars.
7. Chris Lane
Chris Lane found incredible success in 2016. He debuted his single “Fix” and it made its way to the top of the Billboard Country Airplay chart. He has two number one songs to his name: “Fix” and “I Don’t Know About You.”
He previously auditioned for Season 7 of American Idol and got some considerable screen time. He actually auditioned with his twin brother, Cory, and they didn’t even sing! Cory rapped and Chris beatboxed.
The judges were less than impressed with their original rap song, as Cory forgot some lyrics and there wasn’t even any singing.
Years later, both Lane brothers found success in country music. Cory is Chris’ guitar player in his backing band.
Watch their American Idol audition below.
6. Mickey Guyton
Guyton auditioned for the 8th season of American Idol, but was cut right before the live shows. She wasn’t seen much more than just a few seconds of her final performance.
That probably was the best thing to happen to her because shortly after, she wrote a song with Idol-alum Jennifer Hudson. That song, “Better Than You Left Me” became her debut single and it was so successful, she released “Heartbreak Song” in 2016 and “Nice Things” in 2017.
Watch her perform Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces” backstage at the Opry below.
5. Colton Swon
You may recognize Colton Swon as one-half of the country music duo The Swon Brothers. They were front-runners of the 4th season of The Voice, coached by Blake Shelton.
Did y’all know that before they auditioned for The Voice, one of the brothers tried to make it as a solo act and auditioned for American Idol? Well now you do!
Colton Swon, the younger brother of Zach Swon, made it to the Top 48 on American Idol. He was cut right before the live shows, but after all the success he’s had, he’s probably okay with that.
After The Voice, The Swon Brothers signed a record deal with Arista and released a self-titled album. They toured with Carrie Underwood for the better part of 2016.
Watch Colton’s Idol audition below!
4. Jimmie Allen
Rising star Jimmie Allen auditioned for the tenth season of American Idol, and was sent home before the live shows.
Prior to the 2019 Idol finale, he shared the painful moment of when he was sent home, and said, “Someone telling us ‘No’ doesn’t stop our dream…we stop our dream. Never stop fighting, never stop dreaming. Believe in yourself, you can rise from the ashes.”
Allen didn’t let the rejection bring him down. He’s had two back-to-back number one songs with his singles “Best Shot” and “Make Me Want To.” To top it off, and come full circle, he recently toured with Scotty McCreery, who won the season of American Idol Allen was on!
He has also toured with Chris Young, Chris Janson, and opened for Rascal Flatts on their summer 2019 tour.
3. Kane Brown
Inspired when his former classmate Lauren Alaina placed second on the tenth season of American Idol, Kane Brown auditioned for singing competition show, but his experience didn’t go as well as Alaina’s. His audition never aired, but he made a name for himself after posting cover videos on Facebook.
He’s since sold millions of albums, broken Billboard records, and made a name for himself in country music and beyond. He was asked to perform at the American Idol 2019 season finale, bringing his entire career full circle.
2. Maren Morris
The country singer started performing at a very young age. She cut her first record when she was just 15-years-old. She wasn’t seeing the success she hoped for, so she auditioned for American Idol and The Voice, and was rejected by both.
She has stated in interviews recently that she’s glad she never made it on those shows because her music wouldn’t be what it is today if it weren’t for it.
Her debut single “My Church” not only hit number five on the Billboard country charts, it also won her a Grammy Award! She celebrated her first number one song with “I Could Use A Love Song,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award, in early 2018.
Watch her perform “My Church” below.
1. Hillary Scott
Believe it or not, Lady Antebellum’s leading lady never got past the first round of auditions of American Idol.
Not very many people know about this, but contestants must audition for several producers before they even get to audition in front of the judges. Scott never got the chance to audition in front of the judges, and she auditioned twice!
“It wasn’t meant to be and that’s okay,” she said in an interview.
Yeah, with seven Grammys as a member of Lady Antebellum and two as part of Hillary Scott and the Scott Family, seven Academy of Country Music awards, six CMA awards and CMT Artists of the Year honorees in 2010 and 2011, we think she’ll be just fine!
Watch her interview below!