Kelly Clarkson vs. Carrie Underwood: Who would YOU say is the most successful 'American Idol' alum?

clarkson-underwoodImage Credit: Sylvain Gaboury/PR Photos; Albert L. Ortega/PR PhotosIf I attempted the Herculean task of debating the reasons one former Idol is more successful than another within the space of this post, you’d be up for reading of Doc Jensen proportions. So when Billboard ranked the former Idol contestants based on the musical achievements, they only factored in cold, hard numbers (album and single sales, plus radio play). The winner? The original: Kelly Clarkson.

Everyone has their favorite Idol grads (I love me some Cookie), but no matter who your personal No. 1 is, it’s undeniable that the two most musically prominent spawns of Idol are Kelly and Carrie. But success is so much more than numbers. That in mind, which of these two vocal powerhouses do you think comes out on top, PopWatchers? Vote below!

On a related note: Glambert came in at No. 12.(!?!?)

Comments (219 total) Add your comment
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  • Jase

    Kelly. No contest. Breakaway is one of the best pop albums of the past decade. I still hear Since U Been Gone on the radio. Her latest album was great too. After Christina Aguilera, I think she’s the best female vocalist in pop music.

  • Stacey

    I vote Carrie. Kelly has more years on Carrie’s 5 years. But what Carrie has accomplished in the genre of country/pop which is not as diverse as pop/rock is incredible. Kelly has done remarkable. She should be applauded but I would think TODAY; the winner of the contest is Carrie because while she doesn’t have as many singles sales as Kelly. All Carrie’s songs have gone #1. And she’s still a major force. Both have done super but I still vote Carrie who is leading in the RECORDS/CD’s SOLD department.

    • sosa

      #1 in the country charts. not a difficult task when you only compete with maybe 6 other females. kc is competing with all the gaga’s, beyonce’s and even hip/hop crowd.

      • carolyn

        EXCELLENT POINT!!!!!! sosa

      • mischka

        err, how many country #1’s does Taylor Swift have (as she is the pop/country princess now). It’s not as easy as you think to get to #1 on Country radio.

      • awronewphs2007

        Also, country is a very male dominated genre and the only women to get to #1 since Carrie’s first #1 is Taylor and Reba. Without Carrie, it would look really really one-sided. The point is Carrie has just as much competition in country as Kelly has in Pop.

    • nana


      • DJ

        I think Carrie crosses over well and beats Kelly. If you rate them based on sales per year Carrie wins.

  • Cat

    Love them both! Playing the numbers game, one of the reasons Kelly has the edge is because country music isn’t as popular internationally.

    • Jen

      me too! I wasn’t a fan of either when they were on Idol, but both women have really come into their own as singer/performers.

      • Kam

        Carrie can sing but stage presence is something she always lacked. Lucky she’s attractive! Performance on stage doesn’t natural, if anything it’s produced, choreagraphed, otherwise she’d be lost. Kelly not only can sing, but she can do it in most genre, therefore more diversed. Her stage presence has always been natural and easy and comfortable for her. Her connection with her audience is superb, something Carrie wish she had. Kelly Clarkson rocks! Give him more time and Adam Lambert will surpass them. Best vocals in pop/rock hands down. His diversity in his music makes him exceptional.

  • Kevin

    Brian Dunkleman… oh wait, I think I misread something somewhere.

  • Jase

    Oh and im sorry but why is it shocking Adam came in 12? He’s released one album, we’ve only known who he is for a year. And he hasnt been that successful. Good singer for sure, but he placed where he should have.

    • Kristin

      I think she meant it’s shocking he placed so high for all of the reasons you gave.

    • Kam

      It spells H O M O P H O B I C. Perhaps just like you Jake. However, I strongly believe Adam Lambert will diffuse that thinking/attitude with time.

      • Shana

        lol! how is it homophobic? lighten up..

    • Red

      This ranking is just silly. No one with brain whould say Kris Allen is more successful than Adam Lambert and Jennifer Hudson. Lambert and Hudson’s albums have sold twice as many as Allen’s in US and they are successful internationally.

    • Preston

      Adam’s album has been out since November and it’s way too early to rank him higher than 12. But if he can have 4 or 5 successful albums, he will rank just as high as Kelly and Carrie.

  • Andrew

    Carrie is the most successful due to the fact she’s won more Grammys than any other Idol contestant and her album sales are higher than Kelly’s. Although I love Kelly she blew being the most successful “My December.”

    • elr

      I voted for Carrie just because I believe she may have more awards than Kelly (although, I’m probably wrong). It would be interesting to compare them by the same time frame like their first five years of recording after winning.

      • Kam

        but that was for “country”

    • Geek

      Kelly has sold over twice as many albums (23 million+) as Carrie has worldwide. Kelly has legions of fans on every continent. It’s no competition.

    • swimmer

      Carrie has done really well but I say Kelly is the most successful, many agree. I mean who’s the international superstar here Kelly. Who cares how many Grammy’s Carrie has, the Grammy’s are a popularity contest now days which is crap. Still look at Reba who has 2 and people like Bon Jovi and Queen who have never won one. Carrie’s cd sales are higher in U.S. sales but by a million. Kelly blows every Idol out of the water in worldwide sales which matter. Who cares about how My December, Kelly is still the most successful Let’s see how top ten’s she has, top tens on the Hot 100 including two #1’s which with both of those broke a record, the most played femlae artist in American Top 40 history, etc.

      • Anna

        Carrie is more relevant now. who had to cancel tour because of poor ticket sales? umm.. not Carrie. Who has more industry street cred? Who is more revered in their genre? Who has sold more domestically? Who continues to tour and headline successfully? Carrie has a million awards and is considered the best.

      • swimmer

        That was barely the reason. Her stupid former management booked this whole arena tour on purpose. Besides Kelly reschedule the tour which went on to do well. Please Kelly has more industry street cred, Kelly still headlines her tour successfully all over the world. Sell out shows in South Africa, Asia, Melbourne, Perth, etc. The reason Carrie has more awards is because for some reason country music thinks they need a billion different awards shows. Well according to Billboard, Simon Kelly is the best.

      • swimmer

        KC is also more relevant. Seriously ppl stop bringing back the whole “who had to cancel tour because of poor ticket sales” card. That was 3 yrs ago move on and that was bareley the reason was canceled. Her former jerk face managaer booked this whole arena tour and like right when her album was released which is crazy. Anyway some of idiots forget that she reschedule the tour and went on pretty well. I say Kelly has more streey cred, Kelly also continues to tour, has toured every year since being on Idol. She has also headline successful tours but all over the world. Sold out shows in South Africa, Austrailia, Asia, etc. The reason Carrie has so many awards is because for some reason country thinks they need a million awards shows and according to Billboard & Simon KC is the best. And she will always will be, enough said.

      • mischka

        There’s only 2 country award shows. And even if you don’t count them in, Carrie still wins hands down in the award department (hello? Grammys, Billborad, AMA)
        Grammy’s are not a popularity contest. Duh.

      • swimmer

        Kelly also has Grammy’s Billboards and AMA. On the Grammy thing look at Reba she has 2 just like Kelly or bands like Bon Jovi and Queen they have never won one. Grammy’s are a popularity contest. Kelly and Carrie both have about the same amount of awards. Move on.

  • Ktct

    I still love Kelly. I actually watched the first season, expecting my third son,who is now seven and has seen the AI tour and Kris Allen. Kelly started it all!

  • Joseph

    Blonde vs. Brunette? Tough choice. Tough call but I will go with Underwood.

  • graeme

    Underwood has sold more albums and has won more awards in the country world, but Clarkson is much more of a “real” artist and has really paved her way in the music industry.

    • JB

      Clarkson also had to cancel an entire tour because of poor ticket sales, not really something you want to write home about.

      • Kam

        You needs substance to back up your accusation JB. Oh, you have none?? I thought so.

      • sosa

        she did cancel b/c of poor ticket sales. it was due to lack of support from her label and a pushy manager. that’s why a few days later she fired her manager. and that was like 3 years ago. she went to south africa (for the first time) and played for 16,000.

      • swimmer

        Well she did reschedule it, and it did pretty well.

  • joaqfer

    Yeah, it is a tough one, but I love Kelly, and don’t really like country music, so… And yeah, why did Adam Lambert land in number 12? I mean, Kris Allen, David Archuleta rank higher, and they are unknown to most of the rest of the World, Adam already has huge fanbases worldwide…

    My two cents at least…

    • Kam

      Your two cents Joaqfer was a gem. Great revealing comment. Perhaps the artist more popular worldwide is listed 12? Something smells fishy and it’s not right.

    • Shana

      what? Kris has been to south Africa and several countries in Asia. David A. is known all over Asia, South America and even Europe seeing as he toured as the opening act for the band McFly in England….
      They actually are known to other parts of the world.

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    Hmmm I honestly like both of them but I’m going to give my money to Carrie, she has done almost as much as Kelly in way less time

  • BruceMpls

    I like them both and think it’s hard to compare the two because of the difference in their musical styles – Country versus Pop. In their respective genre’s, Carrie has accomplished more, award-wise, and has crossed over to pop in the past, so give her credit for that. But, I think it is unfair to them both to be compared in this way. It’s like asking are you a New York Yankee or New York Giants fan? How do you really compare?

  • shawshank

    How about Kelly Pickler?! That placement was surprising! Everybody always quotes Daughtry and Jennifer Hudson when they talk about not winning and still having a career, but Ms. Pickler is just as much a role model.

    • shawshank

      That should say cites, not quotes. duh.

  • Brit

    I would give the edge to Kelly. Although Carrie has been able to almost match Kelly’s success in a shorter amount of time, Carrie hasn’t had to face the stiff competition that Kelly has. I really don’t know any other female country artist but there are a lot of female pop/rock artists.

    • Patty

      You are right!!!that’s exactly what people don’t see,there’s not competition for Carrie in Country world,but Kelly has to share sales with Beyonce,Katty Perry,Lady Gaga,Gwen Stefani,Fergie,Rihanna etc..etc..So Hell yeahhh,Kelly is by far most successful..I think she is touring the world right now right?? I don’t see Carrie Underwood Touring Asia or Europe at all!!!there is not competition!!!the awards doesn’t count if they are not in the same genre,period.

      • Anna

        juST BECAUSE YOUR BIASED and have no idea about country doesnt mean Kelly is more successful no competition? Taylor Swift ring a freakin bell. just because country is not popular worldwide, you cant judge Carrie on something taht doesnt exist in the rest of the world. in us, on their own merit, with country being more limiting in sales than pop, Carrie still managed to sell more than kelly in LESS time.

      • swimmer

        Let’s see part of the reason why is because Idol was during it’s peak when Carrie was on compared to when Kelly was on. Back in the first season half the country only knew what Idol was, barely had anybody in the audience.

      • Shar

        The ONLY reason Kelly goes to Europe…Asia…nobody wants to see her HERE!!!!!She SUCKS!!!! And Carrie has 5 grammys….and many more awards than KC…Carrie sings better…has more # 1 songs…Way better on stage..Who wants to see fat Kelly bouncing around???? The #1 AI is CARRIE UNDERWOOD!!!!!!!

      • McKay

        Dude Carrie does have competition what about Taylor swift,Miranda lambert,faith hill,Jana Kramer,Martina Mcbride,Sara evens, heck maybe even reba mcentire plus Carrie has won many awards she’s has accomplished almost as much things as Kelly has in a lot shorter amount of time and someone commented and said Carrie wasn’t a natural performer pfft ya right i saw gee live best concert ever! She was fun, she sounded amazing, and she interacted with the fans really well she’s an amazing performer don’t get me wrong I like Kelly but hands down Carrie wins

  • Judi

    Carrie has all the charisma of a block of wood. Watch the videos for “Since You Been Gone” and “Before He Cheats” side by side and you know I’m right.

    • sandwich

      seriously? she might have been stiff when she first came to idol. but that was natural and now she can WORK a stage. and the simplest example is that she totally rocks out to songs from guns n roses like paradise city in her concerts.

      p.s. i don’t see the music video point. carrie’s not standing in the middle holding still with a mic.

      • paula

        Ok, we get it. You love Carrie, so please stop replaying every post pro Kelly man

      • Kam

        Judi is right on! Carrie has improved since idol but it’s so fabricated, nothing natural as she goes about on stage. With Kelly….now that’s performer there! Just look at the confidence she exudes to the audience. She did that during AI1. If your stiff as a \brick from the beginning (Carrie) sure you can improve…but just a little (and a lot of professional help)

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