Last Season’s American Idols Aren’t Idle

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By Anne Marie Coar
Staff Writer

Paula’s out, Ellen’s in, and Simon’s leaving at the end of the season, but the judges haven’t been the only movers and shakers on American Idol in the past year.  Last season’s finalists are busy trying to make their 15 minutes of fame stretch more than Simon’s tight black t-shirts.

Winner Kris Allen released his self-titled CD on November 17.  While sales were less than stellar, with around 300,000 units sold, the lowest of any Idol winner, according to USA Today’s Idol Chatter, Allen made a bigger impact on the Billboard charts with his single, “Live Like We’re Dying.”  The song has sold over a million digital downloads.  Other standout tracks on his album include the emotionally powerful and heartfelt ballads, “The Truth” and “Bring It Back.”  The consummate musician, Allen co-wrote nine of the 13 songs on the album and played piano or guitar on certain tracks.  Allen will be the opening act for country star Keith Urban at several shows this summer.  He and Urban performed a duet to Urban’s hit song “Kiss a Girl” on last year’s American Idol finale.

Runner-up Adam Lambert fared better on the Billboard 200.  For Your Entertainment has sold almost 600,000 copies.  Lambert has released several singles including “Time For Miracles,” which appeared on the 2012 soundtrack, “For Your Entertainment,” and “Whataya Want From Me.”  The Lady GaGa-esque “Fever,” written by GaGa herself, like many other songs on the album, is upbeat and infectious.  “Broken Open,” co-written by Lambert, is reminiscent of his “Mad World” performance last year.  While the music on the album may be less controversial than some of his arrangements on the show last season (think “Ring of Fire”), Lambert’s post-Idol performances are still generating quite the buzz and headlines.  If you haven’t heard about or seen a glimpse of his AMA performance last November, you probably also don’t have a television or computer.

Danny Gokey’s My Best Days might be right now.  The CD dropped on March 2, selling approximately 90,000 copies in two weeks.  His debut single, “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me,” describes most of the album, full of songs with positive and inspirational messages.   The CD contains a nice mixture of upbeat tracks and ballads, which should satisfy the country crowd.  Gokey is scheduled to tour with super group Sugarland at several stops on their tour in late spring/ early summer.

While last season’s top girl Allison Iraheta’s Just Like You didn’t exactly heat up the charts, selling only around 25,000 units its first week, the CD has a Pink/ Kelly Clarkson/ Avril Lavigne vibe and is definitely worth playing.  Songs like “Robot Love,” which evokes text messaging, email, and artificial intel in its lyrics, are both youthful and current.

Fifth-place finisher Matt Giraud had a certified hit on his hands with “You Don’t Know Me,” his duet with Anna Wilson, which reached number one on the Itunes Jazz Chart.  Giraud is shopping for a record deal and writing; one of his original songs is “I Miss You Tonight,” a poignant ballad with a catchy chorus, some high notes, and high potential to be a hit with AC or Top 40 audiences.

Anoop Desai went the indie route.  His debut single “My Name” came out March 23 and mixes Indian, R&B, and pop influences, providing a sound different from usual radio standards.  His eight song EP, All is Fair, drops May 4.  Previews of some of the EP tracks can be found on Desai’s youtube channel, AnoopDesaiMusic.  “Single” induces a more energetic version of Elliott Yamin’s smash hit “Wait For You” while “Lost and Found” is slow, smooth, and sultry.

Scott MacIntyre also decided to go independent.  Heartstrings, released March 10, features 12 original songs, all written by MacIntyre.  It’s got guitars, ballads, and of course, the piano playing MacIntyre was famous for on Idol.  Standout is the acoustic “I’ll Take Tom (MySpace Breakup Song),” which evokes Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah,” except with blogging and blocking in cyberspace.

Lil Rounds and Megan Joy have also recorded songs; at this time, their albums have no definite release dates. Per USA Today’s Bryan Mansfield, Rounds’ CD will be full of soul and R&B.  Joy’s album should be a mixture of Adele, Colbie Callait, Amy Winehouse, and Jason Mraz type songs.

And rounding out the top ten, Michael Sarver released two singles via Itunes, the sweet and sincere “You Are,” and “Cinderella Girl,” an upbeat country rock song.  His solo country album should be out later this year.

Let this season’s idols take note: the ride doesn’t end when the show’s over; it’s only just beginning.

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