American Idol To Release Greatest Hits Album, Remind America How Much It’s Underperformed

Written by Hunter Schwarz on . Posted in Music, TV

‘American Idol’ plans to release a greatest hits album despite the fact that very few ‘Idol’ artists have made an impact on the charts. Season One winner Kelly Clarkson is an exception. Clarkson has scored two No. 1s and eight top ten hits since winning the show in 2002.

American Idol is celebrating a decade of television dominance by releasing a greatest hits album. The album features songs by the winners of each season, as well as songs from some of the more successful contestants who didn’t take home the Idol crown. Although there are some big hits on the compilation, a scan through the track listing is a painful reminder of how American Idol‘s alumni have severely underperformed.

Don’t blame the show though. Idol has been a ratings juggernaut ever since it debuted in 2002. For six of the past nine seasons, in fact, it was the No. 1 show on television. You sure can’t tell that from the 12-track album. Here are the songs:

  1. “Since U Been Gone” – Kelly Clarkson
  2. “Superstar” – Ruben Studdard
  3. “Invisible” – Clay Aiken
  4. “When I See You” – Fantasia
  5. “Before He Cheats” – Carrie Underwood
  6. “Takin’ It To The Streets” – Taylor Hicks
  7. “Home” – Daughtry
  8. “No Air” – Jordin Sparks (with Chris Brown)
  9. “Light On” – David Cook
  10. “Live Like We’re Dying” – Kris Allen
  11. “Whataya Want From Me” – Adam Lambert
  12. “Sweet Serendipity” – Lee DeWyze

Some of those songs seem worthy of making the cut. Five of them were top ten hits (“Since U Been Gone,” “Before He Cheats,” “Home,” “No Air,” and “Whataya Want From Me”), but the rest seem like songs you don’t own and never planned on owning. But it’s not as if Idol had much to work with.

American Idol artists have released countless songs in the past decade, but only 26 have reached the top ten of the Hot 100. They are listed below (year, song title, Hot 100 peak position, artist):

Many of the songs on that list can’t even be considered real “hits,” but were only flashes in the pan. For the first five seasons of Idol, the winner or runner-up was virtually guaranteed a No. 1 single. The typically schmaltzy ballad about reaching for your dreams or climbing mountains was gobbled up by eager Idol fans after the final show. In the pre-iTunes era, these songs easily sold enough physical copies to debut atop the Hot 100 even without much radio airplay, but they quickly tumbled down the chart in the following weeks. Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks broke the tradition when “This Is My Now” peaked at No. 15 in 2007. Her single was only released digitally and not physically, and by the late 2000s, so many songs were being sold on iTunes that her sales were insignificant.

Only a handful of artists appear on the above list multiple times. Kelly Clarkson leads the count with eight songs — or 30 percent of the total top ten output. It’s no surprise that Clarkson is the only Idol artist with two No. 1s to her name. The first, “A Moment Like This,” was her coronation song, while the second, “My Life Would Suck Without You,” remains the only No. 1 by an Idol artist that isn’t a show-winning single. Some Clarkson fans might be surprised to find out her ubiquitous “Since U Been Gone” only reached No. 2, and you can thank 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” for that.

The artist with the second highest number of top ten hits is Carrie Underwood with four. Underwood has performed much better on the country charts where every single but one has gone No. 1 or 2. The one exception, ironically, is her Hot 100 chart topper, “Inside Your Heaven.”

A few other songs from the list were modest hits, working their way up the chart with a combination of sales and airplay over an extended period of time like Jordin Sparks’ three hits and Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want From Me.” But then you have a song like David Archuleta’s “Crush,” which might have peaked at No. 2, but it was a result of lovesick tween girls (and most of the population of Utah and Idaho) rushing to iTunes and the song didn’t have much staying power.

That seems to be the theme — staying power. Few of these Idol artists seem to have much of it. With season 10, however, the creators and judges of Idol are hoping for a star who can not only score top ten hits at will, but revolutionize popular music.

“I hope that ‘Idol’ finds a killer vocalist that helps to change music completely,” judge Randy Jackson told MTV News. “No one has come in and changed the game, meaning that as soon as they showed up … everyone was dressing, acting and wanted to be them, full stop. I hope that we find that quintessential star.”


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