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Susan Boyle's run on Britain's Got Talent made her an Internet sensation and now, a record-setting recording artist. Take a look at some of the other singers who have made the most of their reality-TV launching pads.
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Clarkson turned her win on American Idol's inaugural season into big record sales. To date, her four studio albums have sold more than 10 million copies. She also boasts eight Top 10 hits, including "My Life Would Suck Without You," which set the record for the largest leap in Billboard Hot 100 history when it went from No. 97 to No. 1 in one week.
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Aiken may have finished second to velvet teddy bear Ruben Studdard, but his multi-platinum 2003 debut album, Measure of a Man, sold 613,000 copies in its first week before spending two weeks at the top of the charts. Aiken has released three other albums, launched eight tours, and even held an extended run as Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot on Broadway.
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After Lewis won the third season of Britain's The X Factor in 2006, she sold 6.5 million albums worldwide and earned her three Grammy awards. Her first album, Spirit, became the fastest-selling debut album ever in the U.K. in 2007. Will her recently released second album, Echo, do the same?
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American Idol's Season 4 winner took the country charts by storm, as her debut album was certified seven-times platinum. She's also won four Grammys, eight ACM awards and five CMAs.
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Although Hudson was eliminated much earlier than expected in Season 3 of American Idol, she's come out on top. She appeared in Dreamgirls, for which she won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a SAG award and an NAACP Image award, among others. She has also appeared in Sex and the City: The Movie and The Secret Life of Bees, but her music career is still going strong: Her self-titled debut album sold more than 700,000 copies and earned her a Grammy.
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Potts may very well have been the original Susan Boyle. In Britain's Got Talent's first season, the amateur opera singer and cell phone store manager wowed the judges and viewers on his way to taking the title. The British tenor has since released two platinum-selling albums, toured 23 countries, and even returned to Talent to perform in the 2009 semifinals.
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His early elimination from Season 5 of American Idol shocked judges and viewers alike, but he's certainly landed on his feet. His debut album was the fastest-selling rock debut ever, selling more than 1 million copies in five weeks. He earned a Grammy nomination for his first single, "It's Not Over," and stands behind only Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood as the best-selling Idol alum.
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Following Boyle's rise to fame, America's Got Talent answered the call by finding its own diamond in the rough. Skinner, a chicken farmer from Kentucky, stole viewers' hearts with his renditions of such songs as Garth Brooks' "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love." He won $1 million, debuted his show in Las Vegas in October and is planning to release his debut album in the spring of 2010.
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As the odds-on favorite to take the American Idol crown in 2009, Lambert never backed away from risky arrangements or daringly theatrical performances. But he also proved his over-the-top vocal acrobatics could be turned off in favor of moody, emotional numbers. He just dropped his debut disc, For Your Entertainment, which is as flashy as Lambert himself, but only time (and the fallout from a scandalous AMA performance) will tell if his approach will keep his name in lights for years to come.
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Neal E. Boyd
After Paul Potts cleared the way for opera singers to be heard again, Boyd used his pop opera approach to win over America and take the top prize of America's Got Talent's 2008 season. He released his debut disc in June 2009, and after wrapping up a headlining gig in Vegas, still performs regularly in Sin City.
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After beating puppy-eyed David Archuleta to win Season 8 of American Idol, Cook set a Billboard record by having 11 songs (including many of his performances from Idol) debut on the Hot 100. His first album has sold more than a million copies and he embarked on his first tour in early 2009.