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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

Join The Conversation
Bookaholic Bookaholic 8 years
Per ChicagoSheri, it appears that a lot of AI alums are doing well. Other than the fact that I'm seeing several of their names on the charts, I don't know a lot about it. My personal take would be that AI exposes the public to good singers, and some of them are gonna appeal to people. Just numbers would indicate that. My story is a bit different. I'd never watched Idol nor had any desire to do so, but I read that David Archuleta was gonna be on and so I watched for a lark. I looked at his 27 videos on YouTube (now there are over 31,000), and I was gobsmacked. I'd stopped listening to music for more than 20 years other than periodic trips to the symphony. After I saw him sing, though, I did a 180. I have been listening to popular music nearly 24/7 ever since I was introduced to him--mainly David but also a lot of artists I found through him (Sara Bareilles, John Mayer, James Morrison, Jason Mraz, Eva Cassidy, etc.) I am a HUGE fan of the Archulator. I've travelled over 7,200 miles to see him sing three times. After what American Idol did to me and how it changed my life through David Archuleta, I definitely think it has a future on the boob tube.
ChicagoShari ChicagoShari 8 years
I know it is not a particularly hip thing to say, but I love American Idol. Plus, listen to the radio. Every other song is by Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler, Kelly Clarkson, Jordan Sparks, Daughtry, David Archuleta, and David Cook. I just saw Ruben Studdard on the Scooby Do movie I watched with my children. There are Idol alums on broadway (Taylor Hicks, Fantasia, Diana DeGarmo, Constantine Maroulis), Idol alums on award shows (Kellie, Carrie, David, David), Idol alums on the pop charts (Jordan, Daughtry, David, David), Idol alums on the hot adult contemporary charts (David C., Daughtry, Jordan). Let's not forget Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. I don't think AI has hit its stride yet and as for the question is there room in the music industry for new talent? Absolutely. I am not only a fan of the show but am a fan of David Cook. He will be the musical guest on SNL in one of the weeks with the highest viewership in recent years. And, he is going to rock America. I can't wait. He is a talented guy who deserves ever accolade. The rock community is embracing him and his CD is going to be a chart topper.
jdmxrain jdmxrain 8 years
I'm over this show. Its a total cheese fest. The only contestants that I still like from AI is Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.
pastelpastel pastelpastel 8 years
The answer depends. We have seen a few examples of success stories. I am very sure that the David's will have successful careers, with record companies and management teams firmly behind both. And they have solid fanbases to start, and both are talented. Archuleta is already enjoying much success with his first single without huge promotions. Not a bad start. But I agree about Elliot Yamin. Hugely talented, caught in that surreal Taylor Hicks phenomenon. What happened to America there?
snickers23 snickers23 8 years
I have to agree with all the comments about Elliott Yamin. Honestly I think this kid is a legend in the making.....just based on his raw talent. He also has a likability factor, and an underdog status that works in his favor. He's already accomplished a lot...and has made a name for himself. But unlike every other idol alum out there.....I truly believe the best is yet to come from Elliott. And based on his freshman efforts, what lies ahead of him is nothing short of a wow. No one is handing this kid anything....he is paying his dues and growing in confidence and skill. He's charting his own path and others in the music industry have begun to take note of his unique approach to marketing himself as an indie. This is one underdog story that I'll follow to the end and will enjoy every moment of it. Elliott is a gift that keeps on giving.
cfans cfans 8 years
Even though they are not getting a lot of publicity, there are a few under-the-radar Idols who are very busy with their musical careers. Just because you don't read about them every week, it doesn't mean they are not successful. Yes, perhaps they will never fill arenas like Carrie, Kelly, and Daughtry do, but they are doing what they love to do and being paid very well for it. Two examples from Season 5 are Elliott and Bucky. Personally, I will forever be a fan of Elliott Yamin. I've seen him over a dozen times in concert and have purchased his three CDs (his self-titled album and two Holiday albums). His next tour will start in March immediately after the release of his next album, and I will attend as many concerts as possible.
blondie829 blondie829 8 years
They should have some time before the tour starts to get up and running if AI wants these people to be stars. If they all had a month or two off to solidify their presence in the music business before going on tour, I think it would go a long way.
blondie829 blondie829 8 years
I think the interest only lasts until the next season starts. So, the faster a single or CD is put out, the better. Of course, it all comes down to the talent behind the scenes, like the songwriters, etc. We'll see what happens with the two Davids. If Jason Castro or Michael Johns, etc. ever wanted to be stars, they should have pursued it already.
em1282 em1282 8 years
OK, confession time--I'll pretty much follow Elliott Yamin's career as long as he has one. I loved him on the show and just found him so endearing (and I love his voice and style too, obviously), and I bought his album when it came out as well as the Christmas one he did through Target. I also kinda liked some of Blake Lewis' songs (c'mon, he did a song with Lupe Fiasco, I had to like it) but I know he got dropped from his label, so who knows what's going to happen with him. I would like to see if Michael Johns ever does anything, or hell, even Jason Castro, from this past season, but again, who knows. And like a lot of y'all I love Kelly Clarkson. It really is kind of a saturated market, and obviously a lot of the contestants don't have the luxury of being able to make multiple albums--usually it's just a one-shot kind of deal, and if you fail on your first try, then it sucks to be you...
bluebloom bluebloom 8 years
I can't speak for everyone, but here's what I've noticed about my own AI interest. During the season, I'm hooked. Within the very small pool of singers, I always find someone to be my "favorite." This year, it was David Cook. However, after the contest is over, when the winners (and runners-up) are expected to compete in the way-way-way-larger pool of the music market in general, I just lose interest. I felt extremely vested in David Cook winning the contest when he was up against 10 other people. Put him up against The Hold Steady or any other band I actually spend money on, though, and there's no way his is the music I'll buy. It's one thing to text or phone my vote for free. It's another to vote with cash.
Allyace Allyace 8 years
Candizzle -- Normally I would agree with you b/c I consider myself somewhat of a music snob and never really watched the show before (maybe just taking a peek during a commercial of something else I was watching), but I really got into David Cook this year and kept watching. I really hope that he does well. I think if you have that many people voting for you and you win, then you have the potential but it is what you do with that potential. I just fear that David is letting AI take too much control over his album. It would actually be better to be someone like Chris Daughtry who got booted semi-early (didn't watch that season, just know it was earlier than expected) and then put out the kind of album you really want to. Instead of being rock like it should be for David, I think the first single showed that it will probably be a little more poppy... So, I guess my answer to Buzz's question is yes AI can still create stars. BUT only if they let them do what they are best at...
californiagirlx7 californiagirlx7 8 years
I'm not surprised that there aren't more successful singers to come out of AI...and most of the contestants last seasons were pretty boring anyway. The only AI alumni whose albums I've liked are Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
simplyfab87 simplyfab87 8 years
Carrie Underwood=Amazing. Event though for her season I was hoping she would lose. I was in love with Bo. But anyway, Candizzle pretty much said everything I wanted to say. Its sad that more of them aren't more successful but the American public is fickle.
lemamike lemamike 8 years
i LOVE carrie underwood...i think she's excellent. David cook is good too but i only like him because i watched him probably. all else i could take or leave
Candizzle Candizzle 8 years
I think AI demonstrates the difference between Music Listeners and Music Lovers. The average AI viewer tunes in for the drama and the music is just a side bonus. They would probably listen to a contestant's song on the radio, perhaps download it, maybe buy the album, but probably won't shill out the money to see the person live. With that being said, yes it will get a person noticed, but it won't foster a fan base that 5+ years of touring would. Although I do love me some Kelly, who along with Carrie Underwood are the only true stars to come out of AI.
paisleyblue paisleyblue 8 years
I get what this is saying, could you expect the most recent finalists to have come out with any new stuff yet? they're still on the AI tour and doing tons of press events and everything! its not like they can just hop off the tour bus and go make an album over the weekend.
Reeree Reeree 8 years
I can't imagine season 8 producing anything great. It seems to be the way of the show. Every other season seems to generate the most buzz. It's almost as if the season following a big winner seems to flounder in the shadow of the preceeding season. For me, season 7 outdid any of the preceeding seasons. This show was meant to produce pop stars. They acheived that goal with Kelly Clarkson. Since then, the only real standouts have gone down another musical paths. Carrie/country. Clay/broadway. Jennifer/hollywood/R&B. And now we have David Cook who will likely go down the rock road and likely suceed.
amloveaffair amloveaffair 8 years
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well i think that AI has the ability to give new stars an arena to be noticed. i don't know if they necessarily make stars but think about jennifer hudson - she didn't win, but she was put in a position where people noticed her and see how successful she is. the same goes for kelly pickler and several others. i don't know if i buy it that if you're on AI you'll be successful, but it opens doors.
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