Once upon a time, "American Idol" was a big deal — but not just to the country. As some of you may recall, it was also a big deal to me personally, as I lived and breathed it for seven years.

But those days are over now as "Idol" is nowhere close to the smash it once was and I broke off our relationship after the "Idol" machine chewed up and spit out a local contestant. I couldn't even make myself watch the season premiere ABC provided.

Instead, I decided to stroll down memory lane and share my list of the five former "Idol" contestants currently making the biggest impact on the entertainment industry:

5) Thia Megia (Top 11, Season 10)

Don't know the name? You will soon. Megia is currently on "Days of Our Lives" playing the groundbreaking role of Hayley Chen. Not only is Hayley an Asian lead character, a rarity in daytime, she's also an undocumented immigrant, allowing a soap to tackle a hot button issue in a never-before-seen manner.

4) Jennifer Hudson (Top 7, Season 3)

Considered one of the most shocking "Idol" eliminations ever, JHud has become a true force in the entertainment industry after winning an Academy Award for her role in "Dreamgirls" in 2007. Hudson has also joined "The Voice" family as a judge in both

judge in both the U.S. and the U.K. Her powerhouse voice is in high demand, most recently recording the Oscar-nominated song "I'll Fight" for the "RBG" soundtrack.

3) Adam Lambert (Runner-Up, Season 8)

Queen knew Lambert was the new voice they'd been looking for the moment they shared the "Idol" stage in 2009. But Lambert had contractual obligations and a solo career to pursue.

Thankfully, they've found each other once again to finally turn Lambert into the superstar he should have always been.

Fresh off opening the Oscars ceremony, Queen + Adam Lambert are poised to rock the summer concert scene with a North American tour.

Their collaboration will also be the subject of the documentary, "The Show Must Go On-The Queen + Adam Lambert Story" April 29 on ABC.

2) Carrie Underwood (Winner, Season 4)

Just as judge Simon Cowell predicted, Underwood is the best-selling "Idol" contestant of all time.

The first true country contestant, she's dominated the charts and airwaves since bursting onto the scene in 2005.

She's also branched out into acting and she's opened the number one show on television, "Sunday Night Football," for the past six years. Plus, you can buy her activewear at Dick's Sporting Goods.

1) Kelly Clarkson (Winner, Season 1)

Kelly may not be the best-selling "Idol" contestant, but I believe she's the most well-known as she continues to have an enormous impact on the entertainment industry nearly 17 years after her win.

Clarkson took the "The Voice" by storm, winning her first two seasons as a judge.

And this fall, she'll debut her daytime talk show in a number of TV markets across the U.S. amid rumors she will eventually replace Ellen DeGeneres when she steps down from "Ellen."

The 17th season of "American Idol" premieres at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 3 on ABC.

Angela Henderson-Bentley writes about television for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact her at ahenderson-bentley@hotmail.com.

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