The success of Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson has transcended "American Idol" roots. But a few interesting things have happened in the 10 seasons of the show. The winners are guaranteed tons of exposure and a record contract, but they have to take it from there. And some finalists -- Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry among them -- have done better than the singers who won their competitions.

Here are four "Idol" competitors -- winners and also-rans alike -- to watch. And the show, with judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, returns Jan. 22 on Fox.

*Country cutie Kellie Pickler, who finished sixth in 2006, is coming to town as part of the WYRK Taste of Country Winter Concert, which starts at 8 p.m. Dec. 16 in Shea's Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.). Also on the bill are Rodney Atkins and James Wesley. (Call 847-1410 or go to for tickets, which are $30-$100 at the box office or Ticketmaster). Pickler's third album, "100 Proof," will be released in January.

*David Archuleta, who finished second to David Cook in 2008, brings his "My Kind of Christmas" tour to Turning Stone Resort and Casino outside of Syracuse at 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets, which are $55 to $65, may be purchased at the box office or by calling (877) 833-7469. The concerts are described as a mix of traditional holiday classics and an assortment of pop favorites, as well as some originals, along with "epic orchestral arrangements."

*Katharine McPhee, who finished second in 2006, will star in "Smash," a new series set to premiere on NBC in February. The show is about people involved with a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. McPhee plays an actress who tries to take the Monroe role from Megan Hilty. Also appearing are Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston, Brian D'Arcy James and Christian Borle.

*Adam Lambert, who finished second in 2009, plans to release his second album, "Trespassing," in March. The first single is "Better Than I Know Myself." In a Rolling Stone interview, Lambert described another single, "Shady," as "Nine Inch Nails meets 'Saturday Night Fever.' " And a third, "Outlaws of Love," takes on the topic of gay marriage. Lambert's "Whataya Want From Me," released a year ago, has gotten more than 24 million YouTube hits.

-- Anne Neville