Onward “Idol” soldiers, as it were: Three “American Idol” alums are marching up the Christian charts this week, while another alum seems to be settling in for a long, long stay on the Christian Digital charts. And, as was recapped by Fred Bronson of The Hollywood Reporter (via Yahoo Celebrity) on July 25, several more “Idol” alums, including a couple winners, are doing well in the more secular genres as well.
But there are those out there that do not believe reality singing competitions like “American Idol” produce hitmakers or, if they do, they’re a flash-in-the-pan act that goes nowhere. But how’s this for hitmaking and longevity? Mandisa, who finished ninth in the talent-packed fifth season (2006) of “American Idol,” is enjoying continued success of her song, “Overcomer,” the title track of her fourth studio (non-holiday) album that took home a Grammy last year. (By the way, all four of Mandisa’s albums have been nominated for Grammys.) The song spends its 54th week — that’s one year, two weeks — on the Christian Digital Songs chart (No. 17, up two spots). The second single from the album, “Back To You,” moves up on Billboard’s Christian Soft Contemporary chart (No. 13, up four) as well after four weeks on the chart.
To give Mandisa her due, she’s had 13 hits on the Hot Christian Songs charts (one No. 1, “Overcomer”) and an equal number on the U. S. Christian Adult Contemporary chart (three No. 1 songs, including “Overcomer”) — not all the same songs — since 2007.
Danny Gokey, who switched genres, from country music to Christian, with his newest album, Hope In Front Of Me, saw the title track jump into the Top 10 (No. 6, up five places) on the Christian Airplay chart. The song is also charting on three other lists, the Christian Hot AC (No. 11, up one), the Christian Adult Contemporary (No. 28, also up one), and on the Christian Digital Songs (No. 7, holding steady). The album itself bowed in at No. 1 on the U. S. Christian Albums chart.
It should be noted that Gokey — who finished third to Adam Lambert (who is now the frontman for legendary rock band Queen) and Season 8 (2009) winner Kris Allen, who just released his third post-“Idol” studio album, Horizons — had a fairly successful country music career in its starting phase, charting three hits off of his first album and EP and getting nominated for Breakthrough Artist at the American Country Awards in 2010.
And then there’s Colton Dixon, the sixth-place finalist from Season 11 (2012), who is back with his second Christian album, Anchor, which will be released August 19. His first album, A Messenger, debuted in January 2013 at No. 1 on both the Christian Albums chart and the Gospel Albums chart. The album’s first single, “More Of You,” is currently chartin on four different charts: Christian Adult Contemporary (No. 23, up five spaces), Christian Hot Adult Contemporary (No. 26, up three), Christian Digital Songs (No. 23, up six), and Christian Airplay (No. 25, up one). He’s not wasting any time, either, releasing the second single, “Our Time Is Now,” which lands on the Christian Digital Songs at No. 33 in its first week.
Country princess Carrie Underwood happens to be a mainstay on the Christian charts. Her first post-“Idol” single, “Jesus, Take The Wheel,” has been on the Christian Digital Songs chart for 235 weeks — that’s five years, six months and one week. Another, Christian standard “How Great Thou Art” is enjoying its 151st week (just five weeks shy of three years) on the same survey.
Of course, Carrie Underwood’s career has been nothing short of stellar since she won the fourth season (2005) of “American Idol.” She’s won a roomful of Academy of Country Music awards, Country Music Association Awards, CMT Music Awards, American Country Awards, American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Grammy Awards and on and on. At present, NBC’s live production of “The Sound Of Music,” where Underwood sang the lead, is up for four Primetime Emmy awards.
And she’s been charting since 2005, logging thirteen No. 1 Hot Country Songs along the way, not to mention a No. 1 Hot 100 song with her “Idol” coronation song, “Inside Your Heaven.”
So… about producing no hitmakers or anyone of longevity…
But besides all those “American Idol” alums performing well on Billboard’s Christian charts, there are a few others doing well elsewhere.
Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery’s second single, “Feelin’ It,” from his second non-holiday studio album, See You Tonight, is charting on three different country music charts. He joins the double-reality-show-singing-threat, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert (remember: Lambert came in third place on the first season the singing competition Nashville Star”), whose single, “Somethin’ Bad,” has already went to No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart before descending, but is still doing well on Country Airplay (actually, it moved back up the chart) and Country Streaming, which saw it at No. 3 and holding steady.
Season 5’s fourth-place finalist Chris Daughtry (as lead of his eponymous band) is charting with “Battleships” on the Adult Top 40 chart. And Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips’ “Raging Fire,” the first single from his sophomore album, is No. holding at No. 15 on Adult Contemporary.
But critics continue to deride the celebrities made on the singing competition shows, forgetting that most music careers last only a few years at best, no matter who the act may be, no matter how popular a hit they may have had. It is rare that one sees charting acts go beyond a decade or two, like Madonna, the Rolling Stones, or Elton John.
But reality singing competitions? There are quite a few now to compete with “American Idol,” but none really compare when it comes to producing hit artists. In six seasons “Nashville Star” produced a few, like the aforementioned Lambert, Chris Young, and Buddy Jewel. The now defunct — after three seasons — “The X Factor” is still trying to produce a big star, but Fifth Harmony looks like they might make it (as well as last season’s winner, Alex & Sierra, but that remains to be seen). “The X Factor” (UK) has given the world One Direction, Leona Lewis, Cher Lloyd (with Little Mix doing well on the album charts in the U. S., if not the singles charts). “The Voice” is six seasons in and has yet to produce a superstar, although Cassadee Pope seems to be on the cusp and Danielle Bradbery seems to have potential.
Still, none compare to “American Idol.” Nearly two dozen platinum albums spread out among a dozen artists. Hundreds of No. 1 singles and albums from winners and finalists. Even more hundreds of charting singles and albums. So, when it comes to the deriders who say that “Idol” and singing competition reality shows can’t produce hitmakers or artists of longevity, there are the above examples to prove them incorrect.
And that’s without adding in Jennifer Hudson, Kellie Pickler, Clay Aiken, Fantasia Barrino, Ruben Studdard, and the one that started it all, the incomparable Kelly Clarkson.
(All charts are Billboard lists.)