Each week, the ''American Idol'' finalists endure the indignities of Simon's insults and the uncertainty of placing their future in a fickle public's hands. Is it worth it? To find out, we charted the fates of four reality-TV bands gone by -- or in some cases, bye-bye.
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS First single, ''Get Over Yourself,'' hit No. 8; album debuted at No. 6; opened for 'N Sync and Jessica Simpson.
HIT ROCK BOTTOM WHEN... The band broke up after their label, London-Sire, folded in Dec. 2001. ''You can't have a band without money...,'' says Crush's Ivette Sosa, who'll choreograph and star in a musical at her father's Edison, N.J., dinner theater next month.
TIP FOR TV WANNABES Be patient. ''If it doesn't happen this time -- it will,'' Sosa promises.
CAREER HIGH NOTES Debut album spawned three singles and went double platinum (a follow-up is due Oct. 1); opened for Britney Spears.
HIT ROCK BOTTOM WHEN... Band cameras caught J Records exec Clive Davis critiquing their songwriting skills and Trevor Penick being accused of farting in a hot tub. (The boys opted out of making ''Band'''s fourth season.)
TIP FOR TV WANNABES Be confident. ''I don't think there's any purpose to go out for something if you don't think you're gonna make it,'' says O-Town's Jacob Underwood.
CAREER HIGH NOTES Headlined U.S. club tour and opened for the Cranberries; discovered Pedialyte cures hangovers.
HIT ROCK BOTTOM WHEN... Album debuted at No. 150; Cory Kreig (the hot one) got a mullet.
TIP FOR TV WANNABES Be smart. ''Try not to spend your per diem in one day,'' says Flickerstick's Rex James Ewing. ''You get it all at once, and then all of the sudden there's a strip club....''
CAREER HIGHLIGHTS Um...debut album peaked at No. 146; almost landed at Atlantic when London-Sire went under.
HIT ROCK BOTTOM WHEN... Without a deal, members began moving on. ''I can't complain,'' says Scene's Josh Henderson, now prepping to go solo (he's managed by Jessica Simpson's dad) and exploring an acting career (he shot a WB pilot and interviews pop stars for Wet Seal's in-house network).
TIP FOR TV WANNABES Be resilient. ''We went from feeling on top of the world to being sent home on Christmas, waiting for a phone call,'' says Josh. ''Keep going -- that's what I did.''