Kellie Dawn Pickler (born June 28, 1986) is an American singer best known for her sixth-place finish on the fifth season of American Idol. She was eliminated from the show on April 26, 2006.
Kellie Pickler had a difficult upbringing. The Tough Songfacts explains that Kellie was raised by her grandparents, after her mother abandoned her and her alcoholic father spent time in and out of jail. The 21-year-old Pickler auditioned for American Idol in the fall of 2005 in Greensboro, North Carolina. She sang both Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" and Martina McBride's "A Broken Wing". The judges unanimously sent her to Hollywood. Pickler advanced through the semi-finalist rounds in February and March, reaching the Top 12 On March 9.
Pickler gained attention on the show by saying (for example) that she had never performed before real audiences, pronouncing "salmon" as "sal-mon", and confusing "minx" with "mink ". She was compared to Jessica Simpson in a March 27 story in US Weekly magazine entitled "Kellie: The Next Jessica Simpson", due to her "sweet southern style and ditzy demeanor." Various Internet blogs alleged that Pickler was merely putting on an act in order to win votes. Host Ryan Seacrest asked Pickler about the allegations during the April 4 broadcast, and she denied the claims. On April 19, Pickler and contestant Taylor Hicks became the only contestants among the rest of the Top 6 to never be in the bottom 3. That changed on April 26 when she was in the bottom 2 and then eliminated. Due to time constraints, her exit performance was not aired on the show, which happened to be the first time of its kind in American Idol history. However, when Kellie was interviewed by Extra, they showed her exit performance for the first time.
She returned in the finale in a pre-taped segment called "Puck 'n Pickler", featuring her and Wolfgang Puck at a restaurant discussing foods. It has scenes of Pickler mispronouncing Shanghai, her use of sarcasm, and her reaction to lobsters.
Fate played the straight man, and since then she's never looked back.
On September 30, 2008 Kellie released her 2nd studio album. It was self-titled because she felt she had more to do with the making of it therefore it reflected her as an artist better than her first album. The self-titled album has yielded 4 singles: "Don't You Know You're Beautiful" which peaked at #21, "Best Days of Your Life" at #9 (This was her first top 10), "Didn't You Know How Much I Loved You" at #14, and "Makin' Me Fall In Love Again".
Songfacts states that "Tough," Kellie Pickler's first single from her third album is a female anthem, which finds the song's narrator declaring that while she is just a regular girl, she has been able to overcome challenges in her life by staying tough. The song was released on June 13, 2011.