With Jennifer Lopez set to debut as an American Idol judge tonight (Fox, 8 p.m. EST), we thought it would be fun to look back at the show’s prominent Latino contestants—from the fabulous to the bizarre. Enjoy!
David Archuleta, 20
Season: 7, runner up
Hometown: Murray, UT
Memorable for: Cuteness mixed with real power. A vocal prodigy as a child, the Honduran American singer became one of the show’s youngest contestants, and the most adorable, ever. Who can forget his last performance, where he nailed his three songs, including—hello unexpected maturity! —Elton John’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me? Everyone from Simon Cowell to co-finalist David Cook thought he’d won the whole shebang. But voters went with Cook.
Where he is now: After releasing a self-titled debut album that has sold 900,000 worldwide, Archuleta has not done as well with his second, The Other Side of Down, which sold just 63,000 in the U.S. Yikes. Can he make a comeback?
David Hernandez, 27
Season: 7, 12th place
Hometown: Glendale, AZ
Memorable for: Sexy looks and song delivery. An early favorite, the Mexican American made it to the Top 12 before being the first to go. Some, like The View’s Elizabeth Hasselbeck, smelled a conspiracy, saying that Fox may have jettisoned him because of his past as a male stripper.
Where he is now: In Los Angeles, trying to establish a singing career.
Jason Castro, 23
Season: 7, fourth place
Hometown: Rockwall, TX
Memorable for: Those dreadlocks, piercing blue eyes and spacey-ness.
Where he is now: He released a self-titled debut album last spring, which despite OK reviews, sold poorly. At least the Colombian American singer has love: He recently married his high school sweetheart. They live in Dallas.
Allison Iraheta, 18
Season: 8, fourth place
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Memorable for: A power-rock voice complemented by bright red hair. She channeled some of music’s heaviest-hitting female singers, from Aretha Franklin to Janis Joplin, and wowed every time. Her departure shocked many.
Where she is now: The Salvadoran American rocker released an album, Just Like Me, in 2009. When it underperformed, her label, Jive dropped her. She is still signed to 19 Entertainment, along with many of the top AI also-rans.
Jorge Nunez, 23
Season: 8, 13th place
Hometown: Carolina, Puerto Rico
Memorable for: Being from Puerto Rico, and having a voice good enough to be lauded by Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez, who declared they wanted to sing with him.
Where he is now: Your guess is as good as his.
Andrew Garcia, 25
Season: 9, ninth place
Hometown: Moreno Valley, CA
Memorable for: Tattoos, including one of his wife’s red lips, and for peaking way too early and struggling the rest of the way.
Where he is now: Working on an album.
Diana DeGarmo, 23
Season: 3, runner up
Hometown: Snellville, GA
Memorable for: Coming in second to Fantasia Barrino by only 2% of the votes. Talk about your slim margins.
Where she is now: Broadway, baby! Well, she was, until last summer, when Hair closed. Now she’s doing musical theater in her adopted hometown of Nashville.
Jessica Sierra, 25
Season: 4, tenth place
Hometown: Tampa, FL
Memorable for: Being a hot mess post-Idol. Sierra starred in a sex tape and was arrested after a bar fight. Then she was busted for cocaine possession and went into rehab for drugs and alcohol. Her struggles were featured on Celebrity Rehab. She also had a stalker.
Where she is now: Now clean and sober, prepping her comeback album and has a two-year-old daughter.
Syesha Mercado, 24
Season: 7, third place
Hometown: Sarasota, FL
Memorable for: That goosebump-inducing moment when the half Puerto Rican diva sang Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing. We’re still reeling.
Where she is now: She was part of the cast of Dreamgirls national tour; she also attends college at Florida International University.
R.J. Helton, 29
Season: 1, fifth place
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
Memorable for: Being the Latino to get the farthest in the inaugural season of the show, and coming out as gay in 2006, leaving a Christian music career behind.
Where he is now: Working on music.