Did you ever watch American Idol? I am sure at sometime over the last 15 years you had to have seen some shows. I probably watched the first 4 seasons in full and then would only watch when they got down to the Top 10 in the next 4 seasons and then I would just watch when I could.
However, I did watch the final season, mainly to see who they bring back, and I actually enjoyed watching it. There were a few standouts and their final 4 were all pretty decent. My daughter loved MacKenzie Bourg and I was a fan of Trent Harmon and La’Porsha Renea (who I thought was going to win until Trent’s performances on the finale). And Dalton had some pretty good moments (I love his cover of “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol)
Watching the final season reminded me that they really did have some good artists even though most of them were crap. I also found it funny that some of the people that lost did better than the winners – can we say Chris Daughtry & Adam Lambert. Of course everyone knows some of the winners were spectacular – Kelly Clarkson (3 Grammy Awards) and Carrie Underwood (7 Grammy Awards). And one even won an Academy Award – Jennifer Hudson (also 1 Grammy).
I could spend all the time remembering all the great moments from the show or all the bad moments (William Hung’s “She Bangs”) or even talk about the great insults from Simon Cowell, but instead this is more about the artist I liked from the show. So I started thinking, who did I like the best. Here is my list of American Idol artist that I am actually a fan of their music. I only have albums from 5 of the 15 winners but 7 from artists that didn’t win.
Kelly Clarkson – Winner Season 1
Kelly was the first winner of American Idol (like you didn’t know that already). She is a true talent and the main reason that Idol was successful (other than Simon). I still buy everything she puts out and even took my older daughter to see her in concert and she sounds just as good live as she does on the record. She performed “Piece by Piece” when she guest judged this season and it moved me so much especially being the dad of 2 girls.
Carrie Underwood – Winner Season 4
Carrie is definitely the best from American Idol in the Country genre as Kelly is the top in the Pop. She is also a legitimate talent. Her version of “How Great Thou Art” by Stuart K. Hine is so unbelievably great that I don’t know how to describe it but just go to YouTube and see the video. Wow!!
Bo Bice – Runner-Up Season 4
Bo hasn’t had a ton of success, but he has released 3 albums that I have enjoyed. “The Real Thing” is my favorite album of the three and his first release. I definitely recommend getting that album. He has a nice southern rock style.
Elliott Yamin – 3rd Place Season 5
He is another artist that hasn’t had much success outside of Idol although his first album did go Gold. I enjoyed his songs “Wait For You” and “Movin’ On”. He had a soulful, jazzy feel to his music.
Chris Daughtry – 4th Place Season 5
I was surprised that he got eliminated when he did and I think he was even surprised by the look on his face when the called his name. When he was eliminated, he was offered the job as the lead singer for the band Fuel. And thankfully, he turned them down. He is probably the most successful Non-Winning Idol from the show and one of my favorites. I generally like most every song on his albums. I also credit Chris Daughtry for introducing me to Shinedown. His performance of “I Dare You” caused me to search out that song and listen to the original version and now I have everything they have done.
Blake Lewis – Runner-Up Season 6
The only person I liked out of Season 6 was Blake. Jordin Sparks won that year and she is good, but not my cup of tea. Blake to me was the only one that season that was interesting. He has had some very good pop, dance songs that just make me feel good when I listen to him. He has 3 albums and I hope it does put out some more as I would continue to buy them.
David Cook – Winner Season 7
David has had modest success. His first release after idol “David Cook” was actually a very good Pop album. He has released two more albums including “This Loud Morning” and “Digital Vein” which he just released in 2015. He is another that I hope keep putting music out as usually there is a gem or 2 on each album.
Adam Lambert – Runner-Up Season 8
Adam is probably the most interesting of all the idol contestants. He has a great voice and is a wonderful performer. After Idol, he got the opportunity to work with Queen and tour with them to celebrate the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen. Is he as good as Freddie? No one will ever be as good as Freddie. But is he right for the part? Yes, he is perfect. I never saw them in concert with Adam but the videos I did see showed me he was a great showman and very entertaining. His new album “ The Original High” is excellent and I think he should be around awhile and keep putting out some great Pop music. I am a fan!
James Durbin – 4th Place Season 10
The rocker of that season. James did really well and everyone loved the story of the man with Torrets overcoming his disability and succeeding as a singer. His first album, “Memories of a Beautiful Disaster”, definitely had a harder edge and was outstanding. His second album, “Celebrate” had a softer feel than the first but was just a good. Check them both out.
Phillip Phillips – Winner Season 11
It was nice to see a Georgia Boy win America Idol. And it was well deserved. He has released two albums and both are equally great. The first, “The World from the Side of the Moon”, had two hits. The song, “Home”, was the most successful song to actually come from the show. His second single, “Gone, Gone, Gone” was even better, in my opinion. His 2nd album, “Behind the Light”, did not get the push from the label but had some great songs including “Raging Fire” and “Unpack Your Heart”. As a result of the shitty label, 19 Entertainment, Phillips has sued the label trying to get out of his contract. I hope he wins as he might be one of the better songwriters the show has produced.
Colton Dixon – 7th Place Season 11
Colton was not the first Christian based singer to be on the show, but he is the best. His two releases “A Messenger” and “Anchor” both have done fairly well on the Christian Charts (both #1 on the US Christian Charts) and show promise to what he is capable of producing. I am always starving for more material from him. It gives that positive message and just makes you feel hopeful for the future of music with him out there. If he can get more people listening to Christian music, then even better.
Caleb Johnson – Winner Season 13
Caleb has one of the most powerful rock voices to come on the show. His album, “Testify”, is exactly what I would expect from him…big vocals and classic rock sound. My favorite songs off the album are “Fighting Gravity”, “Only One” and “Save Me”. He had label trouble as well, but was released and is working on his second album. His first single, “Hold Me” was released in February.
Lastly, I don’t have their albums, but a few singles I did get were from Ace Young – “Addicted” & “Scattered”, Michael Johns – “Heart on My Sleeve” and Kimberly Caldwell – “Desperate Girls & Stupid Boys”.
American Idol did have a huge impact on television and on how artists were discovered. Most of the artist didn’t get much respect from coming from this platform and probably well deserved. But there were some great finds on the 15 seasons and I hope you have your favorites and will check out any of the ones I mentioned above.
We still have the Voice but so far they haven’t produced anything of great significance with the exception of Jordan Smith from last season. He has an amazing voice and I look forward to his first album coming out in March. His version of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “Somebody to Love” are both incredible and worth checking out.
Until the next big thing comes along, let me know your favorites from American Idol.