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01 Ryan Malcolm
Canadian Idol’s first winner almost didn’t even make it into the finals, but thanks to a close wildcard round vote, he squeaked in. Though Malcolm looked more like your high school English teacher than the highly styled teens that we’d just seen on the American version, consistency and talent eventually won everyone over. His life post-Idol has actually been pretty interesting: after his debut album went platinum, he started alt-rock band Low Level Flight and his own indie record label. He then moved to Costa Rica with his wife to open a restaurant. They’ve since moved back to Canada to help run a lodge in Whistler, but musical pursuits seem mostly relegated to the occasional acoustic show.
02 Jacob Hoggard
Let’s be real. It is almost impossible to parlay a reality TV stint into a real entertainment career. But watching back some of Jacob Hoggard’s performances on Canadian Idol’s third season, it’s pretty clear that the dude had the charisma, Rocky Mountain-sized ego and shiny blue jumpsuits to ditch the singing-competition albatross and sprint to superstardom. His band Hedley is now one of Canada’s largest exports, whether we like it or not - though interestingly, all the other original members were replaced soon after the Idol exposure.
03 Kalan Porter
Oh man, this second-season winner’s cherubic blonde curls drove the gals cray-zay in those pre-Bieber days of yore. Porter was the best-selling Canadian Idol winner ever, but music seems to be on the backburner for him now, as he’s completing a business undergrad and fulfilling his many philanthropic interests. Also, brace yourselves; he keeps his locks closely shorn nowadays. I know, nooooo. But if it’s any consolation, his little sister’s turning out to be pretty good country singer.
The heart of every Canadian collectively broke the day that The Moffatts announced they’d be breaking up, but there was a glimmer of hope when Dave Moffatt decided to go it alone, starting with a tryout on the third season of Idol. Except that didn’t really work out either, as he didn’t make it into the top 10. He did post some new tracks on YouTube in 2013, indicating the music bug hasn’t totally left his system, but now, he now works as a yoga teacher.
05 Melissa O'Neill
The first female winner of the show, Melissa O’Neil clearly had the best set of pipes on her season. She ended up beating out the eternally ballcap-clad Rex Goudie, though the two couldn’t have had that much animosity between them, since they became a couple for a hot minute right after. Aww. Anyway, O’Neil’s one of the few to go on to a busy performing career: she was nominated for a Juno, briefly joined Toronto group God Made Me Funky and did a lot of stage work, most recently as Eponine in the Toronto mount of Les Misérables - which also featured fellow season-three finalist Aaron Walpole. She’s currently trying out the TV thing, starring in new sci-fi series Dark Matter.
06 Chelsea Johnson
Okay, so she didn’t actually make it as a finalist, but after multiple attempts, she finally made a lasting impression with what I like to call "the fart heard ‘round the world." Make fun all you want, but her fourth-season audition - coyly entitled “FARTING IDOL,” thanks Internet - is by far the most-viewed YouTube clip from any Canadian Idol ep ever. So, that’s our legacy. Although the winds didn’t blow in her favour (I'm sorry I'm sorry), it looks like she's still active throughout the Vancouver jazz circuit, so maybe she got the last laugh.
07 Rob James
As we saw with Dave Moffatt, already having a successful music career in no way secures your future in the Canadian music biz. Thusly, Rob James (of McMaster & James fame) also decided to try his hand at the competition in season four. He made it as far as the top seven, and it appears he decided to forge ahead primarily as a songwriter rather than a performer. He’s got a long string of credits to his name (including a couple on The Canyons’ soundtrack), and is now working as an audio producer in advertising. Oh, and he had a small cameo in this Shawn Desman video. Sorry, buried the lede there.
08 Eva Avila
During her tenure on season four, the judges couldn’t stop gushing about Eva Avila’s potential for international superstardom. After winning, her debut album went gold and produced a bunch of adult-contemporary radio hits. It was hoped that album number two would be her break into the States, but unfortunately Give Me the Music was never released south of the border. She’s continued to experience high-profile success here, most recently opening for Beyoncé's Canadian dates and recording a version of the Pan Am Games’ 2015 theme song, but it doesn’t seem like she’s been able to break out of the confines of the Great White North yet.
09 Carly Rae Jepsen
I really hope I don’t need to tell you what happened to Miss “Call Me Maybe.” In fact, you’re probably more surprised to find out that she got her musical start on ye olde Idol. It’s true: before she was besties with Bieber and burning up Billboard charts, she was indeed slugging it out against Brian Melo and others on season five. In case you were worried that she'd be no more than a one-hit wonder, rest assured that new album Emotion is being lauded by even the most hardboiled pop-hating critics, and the lead single’s video stars Tom effin’ Hanks, so I think she’ll be alright.
10 Brian Melo
This Hamilton native got to leave behind his construction gig when he was crowned in season five, but like most others, parted ways with label Sony/BMG after his debut was released. He went to Nashville to cull inspiration for his follow-up, The Truth. He continues to alternate between Nashville and Hamilton with his bandmates, playing the occasional hometown show and crafting new material.
11 Sebastian Piggot
You may remember Sebastian Pigott from his sixth season audition with his brother Oliver, or from the painfully awkward compliments the judges gave him for, uh, just being hot? Or you may not remember him at all, because he finished in eighth place and this is Canadian television. Thankfully, this is far from the last show he’s ever appeared on. Aside from continuing a band with his bro, he’s solidified a bit of an acting career, appearing on Being Erica, Revenge and of course this opening scene of Saw 3D.
12 Theo Tams
The last winner ever may have been one of the most visibly nervous auditioners ever, memorably and comically covered in flop sweat during that first appearance, but he didn’t need to be: the classically trained multi instrumentalist easily won the title. The compulsory Idol LP Give It All Away got increased cred with Hawksley Workman, Sarah Slean and Damhnait Doyle co-writing credits, but like most winners, parted from the major label right after, and went the indie route. New solo EP Back Pocket was released last year, and he also plays with country-folk outfit Beyond the Mountain.
American Idol went off the air this year after 15 seasons, but we Canadians were way ahead of the curve – our version, Canadian Idol, got cancelled just after six. It’s been a long time since Ben Mulroney last rained confetti on a tearful crooner and promised completely improbable feats of stardom, and it’s worth wondering who among them were able to actually cobble together a music career after their Idol foray. Here’s an update on what some of the contestants have been up to since then.