Nikki McKibbin's Return To 'American Idol' Makes Us Wonder Where The Rest Of the Season 1 Top 10 Are

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Ryan Seacrest wasn't the only familiar face from American Idol's past on Thursday night's episode. Things came full circle during the show's audtions in Texas when former contestant, Nikki McKibbin, from the show's first season turned up with her 15 year-old son, Tristan Langley, for his very own Idol audition. 

McKibbin competed in Idol's premiere season where she finished in the top three contestants alongside Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini. Langley also appeared on the first season of Idol, when he handed his mom a rose following her performance in one of the final rounds. Adorable, right?

Well, now that we know what Nikki and little Tristan have been up to (obviously training hard for his own trip to the Idol Top 3) let's remember fondly the top 10 contestants from American Idol's first season.

Ryan Starr

Starr made it to the Top 7 on Idol’s first season before getting eliminated — but you probably remember her for her rocker-style homemade outfits. Post-Idol, Starr released an iTunes exclusive hit, “My Religion” before she battled with RCA Records to be released from her contract. She then made the jump to the small screen where she had guest spots on CSI and What I Like About You and appeared on several reality shows, including Vh1’s The Surreal Life.

Image: Getty Images 

R.J. Helton

Helton made it to the Top 5 before being eliminated. Following his participation in Idol, Helton signed on with a Christian music label and released an album titled Real Life in 2004. Two years later, in 2006, the singer came out as gay on Sirius XM’s “OutQ in the Morning” with Larry Flick and explained that he had decided to not perform inspirational music anymore. 


Image: RJHelton/Twitter


Nikki McKibbin

McKibbin finished in the Top 3 of Idol’s first season alongside popular contestants Justin Guarini and Kelly Clarkson. Post-Idol, McKibbin immediately signed with RCA Records but when they tried to persuade her to record a country album, she refused and was later dropped from the contract. She bounced around from there, joining bands and recording with indie labels before joining the second season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew where she blamed Simon Cowell’s strong opinions for her depression and following addiction to cocaine and alcohol. She’s now sober and apparently training her son, Tristan, to follow in her Idol footsteps. 


Image: FOX

EJay Day

EJay Day made it into Idol’s Top 10 but was eliminated after the first round. Following his short-lived stint as a finalist, Day allegedly performed for Muhammad Ali at various events in his honor and wrote a song for Raven-Symone’s album, Undeniable. He later began performing on Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

Image: Getty Images 

Tamyra Gray

Gray finished fourth on the first season of Idol. Following the show, the singer signed with an indie label, 19 Records, and released her first album The Dreamer. She co-wrote songs with fellow contestant Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson, and the Idol season 3 single “I Believe” that was performed by Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo before switching to acting. Gray was cast on Boston Public where she had a recurring role as a high school student with a talent for singing (lol). She also performed on Broadway in Bombay Dreams and as Mimi Marquez in Rent as well as supporting roles in the indie film The Gospel and Academy award-nominated Rachel Getting Married.

Image: Getty Images 

Justin Guarini

Guarini was season 1’s runner-up. He followed up Idol with From Justin to Kelly which costarred fellow contestant, and show winner, Kelly Clarkson. The film received terrible reviews but Guarini released his first solo album with RCA Records in 2003 titled Justin Guarini he was later dropped from the label when it didn’t sell. He later independently released his sophomore album, Stranger Things Have Happened in 2005. Following Idol, Guarini made many television appearances and was involved in a series of Broadway shows.

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Jim Verraros

Verraros was eliminated alongside EJay Day after one week as a top finalist. The singer came out as gay in 2003 after competing on the show and according to his website’s bio — that’s when his career really “soared”. He appeared in the popular indie film Eating Out and released three albums titled Unsaid and Understood (2003), Rollercoaster (2005), and Do Not Disturb (2011) and participated in American Idol Rewind. He currently lives in Chicago and works in the bridal fashion industry.


Image: Red Queen Music - Sound Axis


Kelly Clarkson

Season 1’s winner and perhaps the most successful Idol contestant ever — Clarkson starred in the panned From Justin to Kelly but went on to record and release six albums. The “A Moment Like This” singer has experienced success worldwide and has, over the course of a decade, racked up almost 100 number ones on the Billboard charts. Clarkson recently married Brandon Blackstock and announced that she’s expecting their first child together

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A.J. Gil

Gil made it to the Top 8 on Idol before getting eliminated. Following the show, he had trouble establishing a career, stating that his managers wanted him to sing pop music when he really wanted to record R&B. He appeared on Family Feud in 2005 and had a role in the film Destination Fame in 2012.


Image: Juda Music Productions

Christina Christian

Christian was eliminated after making it to the Top 6 on the show. Following the competition, Christian married her boyfriend of six years. She went on to appear in the series Top of the Pops, CSI, and Burn Notice. She also appeared on and covered a subsequent season of American Idol for TVGuide. Christian did not release any music. 

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