American Idol Season 10, the Strongest Season Ever?

American Idol is telling us that this is the strongest season of contestants ever. Every one is brilliant and fantastic, just ask the judges. After Pia Toscano’s early departure American Idol producer, Nigel Lythgoe, told Lyndsey Parker: “The talent is so strong… every week now a really good singer will go home.”

Season 5 produced seven out of the twenty most successful American Idol alumni. Can Season 10 top that? After the Season 9 snooze fest in which my favorite, Lacy Brown, was eliminated early, American Idol knew they had to deliver talented contestants for Season 10 to keep the show relevant. At least this season the contestants have a pulse. How will they stack up to the Top 20 American Idol alumni in sales?

Season 5 was the year that Taylor Hicks won. The biggest success of that year is Chris Daughtry. Daughtry is third in American Idol alumni album sales. I was always confused about why Daughtry was fourth until I went back and listened to the final four’s performances. Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, Elliott Yamin and Katharine McPhee battled it out on Elvis Week. Katherine McPhee reminded me of Pia Toscano, but had more stage presence and animation. Season 5’s seven in the Top 20 is impressive. Along with Hicks, McPhee, Yamin and Daughtry are Kelli Pickler, Bucky Covington and Mandisa.

Chris Daughtry should have won, but he was in a strong group that year. I believe that Daughtry’s early elimination was caused by his choice of two similar songs on Elvis week compared to the other 3 who mixed it up. As corny as Taylor Hicks may be at times, he certainly had more energy than any Season 9 contestant.

Chris Daughtry

A Little Less Conversation

Suspicious Minds

Elliot Yamin

Trouble

If I Can Dream

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol4LRdpA9jo&NR=1

Taylor Hicks

Jailhouse Rock

In the Ghetto

Katharine McPhee

Hound Dog / All Shook Up

Can’t Help Falling In Love

I prepared this chart of the Top 20 American Idol alumni in album sales. The first number in parentheses is where they placed in album sales and the second is where their singles have placed in the top 20. For instance, Kelly Clarkson is second in album sales and has 6 singles that have placed in the top 20. The numbers represent where the singles placed. Kelly Clarkson leads in single sales.

Carrie Underwood is first in album sales and has four singles in the Top 20. Many of the Top 20 album sellers do not have any singles in the top 20. There are some interesting observations. There are four years when the winner was not the most successful. From Season 2, Clay Aiken out sold Ruben Studdard. Season 5, both Chris Daughtry and Kelli Pickler outsold Taylor Hicks. Season 8, Adam Lambert far outsold Kris Allen even without his international sales. Season 9, Crystal Bowersox outsold winner Lee DeWyze. That means that in 4 out of 9 seasons the voting did not identify the most successful contestant. Will that happen this year?

Season 1

Winner: Kelly Clarkson (2) Singles: (4, 5, 14, 15, 17, 20)

Season 2

Winner: Ruben Studdard (6)

Second Place: Clay Aiken (4)

Fourth Place: Josh Gracin (13)

Season 3

Winner: Fantasia Barrino (5)

Seventh Place: Jennifer Hudson (10)

Season 4

Winner: Carrie Underwood (1) Singles: (2, 9, 12, 18)

Second Place: Bo Bice (15)

Season 5

Winner: Taylor Hicks (14)

Second Place: Katharine McPhee (17)

Third Place: Elliott Yamin (16)

Fourth Place: Chris Daughtry (3) Singles: (3, 7, 19)

Sixth Place: Kelli Pickler (8)

Eighth Place: Bucky Covington (18)

Ninth Place: Mandisa (19)

Season 6

Winner: Jordan Sparks (9) Singles: (1, 6, 13, 16)

Note: Sparks #1 single was a duet with Chris Brown.

Season 7

Winner: David Cook (7)

Second Place: David Archuleta (11) Single: (8)

Season 8

Winner: Kris Allen (20) Single: (11)

Second Place: Adam Lambert (12) Single: (10)

Season 9 All Contestants failed to have an album or single in the Top 20. Here is where Crystal and Lee place in sales:

Winner: Lee DeWyze (28)

Second Place: Crystal Bowersox (25)

Season 10 has a diverse group of singers. There is not a clear consensus on who is the most talented. It is not like Season 1 and Season 8 when Kelly Clarkson and Adam Lambert vocally overpowered the rest. With Pia Toscano’s early elimination many think the best technical vocalist went home. Nigel Lythgoe claimed that she was not a “fan favorite”, but with unlimited voting those who are sent home could have more fans and fewer votes then some that stay.

Scotty McCreery has the potential to become a country star. At seventeen he is learning to connect with the audience. He has a bit of swagger. The spice comes from his Puerto Rican grandmother, he told Jennifer Lopez. James Durbin has an untamed rock wail and brings excitement to the stage. Casey Abrams is an original. He is off beat, creative and entertaining but not the strongest vocally. Paired up with Haley Reinhart this week he was in his element.

Clearly Haley and Casey, two twenty year olds, produced mature, sophisticated sounds. They sang pretty good too. I think it was one of the best performances of the season. I think that Casey’s popularity is bringing votes to Haley, just like Kris Allen got votes because he was Adam Lambert’s little sidekick. They are my picks for the Top 4.

There is no doubt that Lauren Alaina can sing. As the youngest contestant I do not believe that she is connecting emotionally with her lyrics. Alaina is singing about feelings she has never experienced. That would be acceptable if it was not obvious. Lowering the age for the competition did her no favor.

Stefano Langone may soon be long gone. Stefano is the closest American Idol came to having a “cute guy” this year. There are elements in him that remind me of the last three winners. That is not necessarily a good thing.

My least favorite of the remaining seven is Jacob Lusk. Vocally Mr. Lusk has an impressive range. When he is in control he sings beautifully, but he is not my style. I like my male singers in tight leather pants and black color liner and I don’t want them taking me to church.

Time will tell if Season 10 is the most talented season ever. Season 5 will be hard to beat. This is a much different music industry than when American Idol started. I do think that the last two winners were not as talented as say a Kelly Clarkson or a Carrie Underwood, but even Kelly and Carrie can’t sell as many albums as the use to.

The winner this year will be determined not by talent and popularity. The contestant with the most votes, not necessarily the most voters will win. With seven weeks to go, I believe that they are all talented and only time will tell if Season 10 can overtake Season 5. I am still predicting that Scotty McCreery will win based on fan organization unless James Durbin pulls ahead with votes from Autism and Tourette syndrome groups. I am anxious to hear what you think. Is this the best season ever?

References:
Album Sales
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Idol_alumni_album_sales
Single Sales
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Idol_alumni_single_sales

Google Trends Season 8

Adam Lambert topped Googled all of Season 8 and led by far in all other social media:

http://www.google.com/trends?q=adam+lambert%2C+kris+allen%2C+allison+iraheta%2C+danny+gokey&ctab=0&geo=all&date=2009&sort=0

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