For seven seasons, the long Idol road led to two performers. They would sing at a major Los Angeles venue. One would be thanked for their contributions. The other would get the cash, the car, and the contract. Tonight, Adam Lambert or Kris Allen will be the eighth. You know the first seven. Here they are:
- Season 1 (2002) – Kelly Clarkson was the perfect first Idol. Cute, personable… and a hell of a singer and songwriter. Not to mention that she’s become a pop-culture touchpoint, thanks to Steve Carell. Her career really took off with Breakaway, the album named for how it felt to get away from 19 Entertainment, and hasn’t stopped since.
- Season 2 (2003) – Ruben Studdard had some early issues, including health problems, but has overcome them to become a Broadway performer and singing star. He’s been touring with Ain’t Misbehavin’ and has his fourth album out today.
- Season 3 (2004) – Fantasia Barrino dropped her last name along the way, but hasn’t ever dropped a step. She’s an 8-time Grammy nominee, is touring with The Color Purple, will carry that role into the movie of the musical, and has a reality show coming.
- Season 4 (2005) – If I have to tell you about Carrie Underwood, you’re reading the wrong blog. Carrie is, just 4 years after Idol, a country icon. The 2009 ACM Entertainer of the Year, she has focused on her singing and it has paid off with two massive albums (almost 10 million served), and a third coming later this year. She is the Idol success story that 19 and Fox would like you to remember.
- Season 5 (2006) – Taylor Hicks hasn’t quite hit those heights, but has done well as a singer (two albums) and musical theatre performer (touring with Grease).
- Season 6 (2007) – Jordin Sparks, like the rest of the Season 6 ensemble, has had a slow start. The first album went platinum, since then she’s been off the radar a bit, but is working on a June album after debuting her new single on Idol recently.
- Season 7 (2008) – David Cook has been through an up-and-down year. The ups have been public – the first album is a success, he’s been touring all year, and looks poised to have a solid career. The down was the loss of his brother to cancer recently, a story that was a part of his Idol year. As mentioned yesterday with David Archuleta, it’s a matter of building on his out-of-the-box success.
What it comes down to is this: whoever wins tomorrow night will get a jumpstart to a successful career. For all of Idol’s flaws, their winners have succeeded. Even Taylor Hicks and Jordin Sparks, arguably the “least-successful” Idols, have had careers that any singer would kill to have.
So is it Adam or Kris? The sing-off is tonight, and the two-hour concert/finale is tomorrow. See you there.