a mysterious silhouette on the American Idol logo

Who Won Season 5 of American Idol? Answered

American Idol held an undeniable chokehold over television audiences in 2006, with the talent competition’s fifth season becoming the series’ most-watched of all time. Here’s whose vocal stylings won America’s hearts and votes and a few of the other notable stars who rose to prominence in the nearly two decades that have followed.    

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Taylor Hicks Won Season 5 of American Idol

Taylor Hicks giving a thumbs up to the camera next to Ryan Seacrest

Birmingham, Alabama’s Taylor Hicks had released two independent albums prior to auditioning for American Idol and sought to continue pursuing his passion for performing as a contestant on the hit ABC series. The 30-year-old’s premature grey hair and southern twang made him a standout early on in the series, despite notoriously cutthroat judge Simon Cowell’s protests. Hicks auditioned with Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” and impressed Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson, though Cowell maintained that Hicks was not destined for the spotlight.

Though Cowell’s assertion may have come to fruition as the singer’s spotlight was certainly usurped by several of his Season 5 peers, Hicks certainly captivated America’s attention during the course competition series itself and still maintains a devoted fanbase that refer to themselves as the “Soul Patrol”.

Stevie Wonders’ “Living for the City”, Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” and Wild Cherry’s “Play that Funky Music” were among some of Hicks’ noteworthy American Idol performances. The vocalist sailed by safely each week, before eventually beating out runner-up Katharine McPhee in the Season 5 finale.

Hicks was one of a whopping 18 contestants from American Idol‘s fifth season to secure a record contract as a result of the series and went on to release a self-titled album with Arista Records in 2006. Taylor Hicks debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and earned a certified platinum status the following year. However, Hicks star has generally faded outside of the Idol spotlight, unlike Season 5 runner-up McPhee and some of his fellow competitors.

Season 5 of American Idol Launched Several Careers

Much like Hicks, McPhee continued to pursue a music career after Season 5 of American Idol but additionally branched out into acting, with early roles including The House Bunny and guest star spots on Community and CSI: NY.

McPhee was then granted the opportunity to combine her music and acting prowess in the NBC Broadway drama Smash, which attracted a cult following. The former Idol runner-up went into her longest-running television role as Paige Dineen in Scorpion and would later step into Sara Bareilles’ apron in Broadway’s Waitress. Leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, McPhee leveraged her prominence over Hicks as tongue-in-cheek means to encourage prospective voters.

Despite McPhee’s continued relevance, Season 5’s fourth-place contestant, Chris Daughtry, went on to become the third most successful American Idol alum in terms of overall record sales. Daughtry impressed American Idol audiences with memorable performances such as Bon Jovi’s “Wanted (Dead or Alive)” and Styx’s “Renegade” and made a name for himself after the series with hit singles “Over You” and “It’s Not Over”.

A year after the Daughtry elimination that upset many American Idol fans, a slight sense of vindication arrived when the musician’s song “Home” replaced Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” as the show’s send-off tune.

Other stars of American Idol‘s fifth season included Elliott Yamin and Kellie Pickler, who scored a hit with the single “Red High Heels”. In saddening Idol news, another Season 5 favorite, Mandisa, recently passed away at age 47. The gospel musician earned a Grammy Award for her Christian album Overcomer in 2014, having previously earned nominations for her work in 2008, 2010, and 2012. Hicks was one of many Season 5 American Idol contestants to commemorate Mandisa, referring to her as “a powerhouse person” in an interview with Yahoo! News.


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Author
Tara McCauley
Nerd at large, Tara McCauley's happiest playing or writing about tabletop role playing games. Tara joined The Escapist in October 2023 as a freelance contributor. She covers such TV shows as Fargo and games/fandoms like Dungeons & Dragons. In addition to The Escapist, Tara has gushed about her favorite pop culture topics at CBR, MXDWN, and Monstrous Femme. When she's not writing or rolling dice, Tara can be found catching up on her favorite sitcoms, curled up with a horror comic, or waxing poetic about the WNBA.