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Can American Idol Still Launch Careers?

With American Idol winner David Cook and runner-up David Archuleta both about to release albums in the coming weeks, here's an interesting question: Can Idol still really make someone a star? And even if the answer to that question is yes, how many Idol-related singers can people manage to care about?

USA Today's Idol reporter suggests that the Idol universe may be reaching the point of diminishing returns. There are 82 former Idol finalists, he points out — and how many of them could you still even name? For the seventh season, only the two Davids have announced albums at all (so nothing yet from Syesha, Jason, Brooke, Carly, et al). As for season six, Jordin Sparks's album has had decent success, but runner-up Blake Lewis hasn't been so lucky, and the rest of that year's group has all but disappeared.

Even worse, nearly every Idol contestant who's released more than one album (with the exception of Kelly Clarkson) has seen sales majorly drop from the first album to the second. There are tons more statistics on the USA Today blog, but in general, it doesn't seem like Idol contestants have a whole lot of staying power.

So, what does this say about the show as we approach the eighth season? Are we just too saturated with Idol-related singers and albums to care anymore? And are there any under-the-radar Idol folks whom you'll support till the very end? (I always did kinda like Elliott Yamin . . . )

Photo courtesy of Fox

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