Thank you for the music, American Idol!

Having said this, I almost wish that all the Idols came together and sang “Thank you for the music” by ABBA. But I have a feeling, or maybe I read somewhere, that they were one of those bands that refused to sell the rights to their music to this show.

But seriously, thank you for the music, American Idol.
And introducing me to so many amazing people πŸ˜‰

When I started watching the show, the only music I was really listening to was my favorite boy band. Dream Street officially broke up a couple weeks after Kelly Clarkson was crowned the first ever American Idol.
And I came back to radio not knowing who anyone was… it was very disorienting.
Between 2002 and 2006, it was very hit and miss. I stayed in the loop with Jesse McCartney and Greg Raposo- the members of Dream Street who went solo and started putting out music. I listened to Radio Disney to stick with the only music I knew.

And I watched American Idol enjoying some great performances, getting to know people, and hoping I’ll find some people to fill the void left behind by all the boybands that broke up and the other artists whose careers faded away.

In all honesty, I really didn’t find anyone I felt that personal connection with until the last couple years of the show. [Thank you, Twitter!]
But I found a lot of great people. So what I thought I’d do is go through my favorite contestants from the show and rank the albums I own by them… as well as give honorable mentions to the ones I’m still waiting to hear from and those I just own iTunes singles from.

Season 1
Kelly Clarkson

Season 2
Clay Aiken

Season 4
Carrie Underwood
Anthony Fedorov

Season 5
Chris Daughtry

Season 6
Jordin Sparks
Blake Lewis

Season 7
David Cook
Brooke White

Season 8
Kris Allen
Alexis Grace

Season 10
Scotty McCreery

Season 11
Colton Dixon
Skylar Laine
Elise Testone

Season 12
Angie Miller

Season 13
Jessica Meuse
Alex Preston

Season 14
Jax
Quentin Alexander
Joey Cook
Riley Bria

Season 15
Dalton Rappatoni
Mackenzie Bourg

Anthony Fedorov is more of an honorable mention. Ever since Season 4 ended (where I felt like an idiot for backing him to win when everyone else saying Carrie Underwood was a lock but dammit, his voice is AMAZING), I spent years keeping tabs on him, waiting for an album to happen. After maybe five years, I gave up because he was only doing Broadway.
Just in case, though, I searched for him on iTunes and found “You’re Perfect” which he recorded in 2011. Great song- he can serenade me with that any day- except for the fact he’s happily married and his son is almost as much a miracle as the fact he’s singing after his own tracheotomy. And he has some things coming up this year, so I’ll be in touch.
I loved him because he was like Clay Aiken 2.0. Also, so cute. And he also graduated from my high school. 2 years ahead of me, but I never saw him in the school. Of course now there’s another layer of curiosity because he’s originally from Ukraine and in interviews, I can detect a little accent πŸ˜‰
Looking back, though, I don’t know if I had that special personal connection with him, though. Just liked listening to him.

Brooke White was probably my favorite to win season 7, although there was no denying the purity of David Archuleta. If this show was called “The Voice” he would have won. Then David Cook kinda snuck up on a lot of people with his artistry and song-flipping.
For whatever reason, though, I didn’t keep pace with her after she was eliminated. And with my favorites I often do. It was 2008 when she was on- so at the time, I was living life to the fullest I ever had. Then after that, I was working and then I wasn’t working… for a long time.

Wow, watching these performances from Brooke… I think I’m putting myself in danger of crying my eyes out- when I finally realize that this show is over.
Her duet with Michael Johns “Life is Okay” is AMAZING. Love her voice on this. But maybe it’s because her voice is so pure and fits this music so well.
I think I’d seen her music at FYE- so maybe next time I go, I’ll pick one up. They should be really cheap by this point. [Don’t judge- I got David Cook and Chris Daughtry’s first albums for next to nothing- both wound up being worth it]
Listening to a couple more, Free, Radio Radio and Hold Up My Heart- yeah, I’m definitely going to look for her πŸ˜‰ Lots of great music.

Skylar was my favorite girl on Season 11 so right after saying good-bye to Colton- probably the toughest shocking elimination I’d experienced to that point- her going home… it was hard.
Listening to a couple songs from her “Dirt Covered Lace” album. I’m not big on country, but I like a lot of what I’m hearing. Maybe one day when I’m more comfortable with spending money on iTunes I’ll get it.
I tend to be very picky with my iTunes buys. I gotta be sure I love the song or I really love the person. I was quick to buy from Jessica Meuse and Alexis Grace when they put music out.

Listening to some of Elise’s music, I’m starting to realize maybe I just loved seeing her perform and kill it. But I’m not as big a fan of her own music. It’s just a matter of personal taste. She had some great moments on the show and I thought the judges were overly harsh with her.

Side-note: when Periscope came out, I didn’t think that would catch on. Never thought I’d be into it. Yet I’d rushed to my Google Chrome browser to watch Dalton and Mackenzie either be interviewed or post live videos.
And I think I have to run and put my last $10 of iTunes I got 2 birthdays ago into my iTunes store because I’m getting “Roses” and “Strike a Match” sometime this weekend.

Angie Miller was the stand-alone contestant I liked on season 12, which I barely watched and only did to see her. And also cuz I was running out of other TV to watch.
I’d listened to her album “Weathered” a few times on YouTube, but I’m not in love with it enough to actually buy it. I did like her new song “Sleep on it” under her Zealyn pseudonym, so we’ll see what happens. Great voice, love how she wanted to go independent so she can really be herself and do her own thing.

Blake Lewis was one of the most exciting contestants to watch on Idol. Yet I haven’t actually bought his music. I really loved his “Retro Romance” video and it is CATCHY as hell. I can recall it now, not remembering the words, but freaking love that melody. One day, hopefully, I will commit and get some of his music. Or at least listen to more of it. There was a time I almost bought his debut album, but I have a feeling his later music might be better.

Everyone else left- I either don’t have an album from them yet [they hadn’t released one] or I own their music.
I’ll start with the ones I do have. And I’ll rank them from “worst” to first.

18. Clay Aiken- A Thousand Ways

*I know, it isn’t really fair for me to include a covers album in this bunch. But I can’t help it. I was really disappointed to find it was all covers when I bought it. And, well, some of it is really good. His cover of Elton John’s “Sorry Is the Hardest Word” is a major stand-out. I hear some songs by Elton John and sometimes hear Clay’s voice in his place. Maybe that’s just me having fond memories of him doing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me” on the show.

17. Clay Aiken- On My Way Here

*Reason for the low ranking: I own three Clay Aiken albums and the first one was SO good that anything else he did was very likely to be a disappointment. The music here is very different, maybe a little more personal to him, but there wasn’t a lot there for me to personally connect with. And the music itself- it doesn’t grab me. Not a lot of it is particularly adventurous. “Falling” is the one track I always go back because it grabs me. Great compelling vocals. Although it isn’t fair to compare this to his first album (which is very much the record company tailoring the artist rather than the artist controlling their own destiny), it also doesn’t stand out quite as much as some other Idol albums because- honestly- it isn’t anything special or memorable.
Just my personal opinion :shrug:

16. Kris Allen- self-titled

As much as I loved Kris on Idol, this was somewhat of a disappointment. I have made an effort with it and I can find some silver linings. But the lows for me are so low that the package as a whole kinda suffers for it. “Live like you’re dying” wasn’t the greatest first single. Better than “No Boundaries,” but really, what does it say about Kris as an artist? Not a lot.
As for stand-outs, I love “Can’t stay away from you”- I’d swoon if I didn’t know Kris was married. “Red Guitar” is a good solo credit- which rarely happens on Idol debut albums. “Alright with me” fits the artist I thought he’d be after Idol perfectly. Great stand-out: “Send all your angels” which was co-written by Chris Daughtry. And it’s a bonus track. That should’ve been his lead single.

15. Scotty McCreery- Clear as Day

*For a debut album and a country album at that, for me to like this is a huge compliment. [I’m not big on country music]. This is one of my fall classics simply because the opening is “Out of Summer time.” Lots of great storytelling that paints a great picture and makes me smile. Love that “Walk through the country” is co-written by Keith Urban [I’ve enjoyed the few times I’d heard him, so I really should check into his music]. One thing that takes away maybe is just a couple tracks that I can’t personally relate to because I didn’t grow up in the South. “Watertower Town” is the lone exception- so much to love about this. When he performed it on Idol, I really enjoyed it.
Which reminds me that I really ought to check out his second album. The two songs I’d heard him perform that- they just reminded me so much of why I liked him on Idol. Great voice, but that personality and magnetism on stage. At least now he’s older than 18 so I feel less guilty saying he makes my heart flutter.

14. Jordin Sparks- self-titled

*This album was one of my college companions before I really started making friends. But it was usually the same 4-5 songs that I put on heavy rotation. “One Step at a time” came on the car radio on two notable occasions- one was with someone who’d become one of my best friends. Also the one person I really liked and missed my chance with- still regret that. “No Air” is easily one of my favorite Idol tunes ever- also the one time I’ll gladly listen to Chris Brown [can’t believe that jerk still has a career]. “Freeze,” “Shy Boy” and “Young and In Love” were the three other stand-outs I put on heavy rotation. Paints some great visuals, but also some great beats.
One drawback- this album reads like a Disney artist in a lot of regards. The material is great, but it doesn’t have a lot of depth.

13. Casey Abrams- self-titled

*Lots of great songs. Not your typical American Idol album that blurs the lines of genre- mostly pop and jazz. The product as a whole is very strong. Very cohesive. Feels like something good for springtime or just hiking through the woods since it feels off the beaten path. I enjoy nearly every song on here. Could have done without the covers, personally.

12. David Cook- self-titled

*It took me a couple listens to get into this album. I picked up on the strength of the singles alone. The quality of the songs are really strong. What sets it apart is that David Cook co-wrote a lot of these, something I don’t think has happened on an Idol winner’s debut album before him.
My absolute favorite- “I did it for you”- beautiful melody and vocals. It just grabs me emotionally. In that it makes me cry cuz it’s so beautifully written and riveting.

11. Kelly Clarkson- All I Ever Wanted

*I originally ranked this a lot lower because I’d only heard it a few times and the last listen wasn’t overly enjoyable. But after hearing it again, I see a lot of potential and in the future, it might get another rankings boost. Kelly is a freaking bad-ass in this album. I mean, she always is, but this is the only album I own so I have nothing to really compare it to. The girl power vibe and attitude packs a great estrogen rush.

10. Alexis Grace- Kiddo

*While only five songs, she really made the quality count to make up for lack of quantity she could put out. Love the use of strings. The opener is a great rock song packed with girl-powered adrenaline. After a hint of sadness in the next song, the rest is as sweet as a spring breeze.
It’s quickly become one of my to-go albums for springtime.

9. Alex Preston- self-titled

*Like with Casey, Alex isn’t your typical American Idol type. His music doesn’t scream mainstream, but he’s such a talented songwriter that he ought to be. If Ed Sheeran can do, Alex certainly can.
This album has a lot of variety in subject matter- beginning a relationship, the contentment of being in a good one, fighting and breaking up. And each song has a different tone to it that’s uniquely Alex. Since he recorded it somewhere off the grid, I get a very outdoorsy vibe. Like it’d be good to listen to while you’re outside, either hiking in the woods or chilling in your backyard on the grass. Some is great to chill out and others are good shots of adrenaline.

8. Daughtry- Break the Spell

*I own three Daughtry albums and I hate to put one this far down the list. But the one thing holding this one back- as a whole, it isn’t a strong album. I got the deluxe edition, but the bonus tracks aren’t as good as what made the album. And this album has many STRONG highlights.
Chris Daughtry has a very unique sound. His rock music has something that sets it apart- where I can tell within seconds that it’s his music. His rough voice has a lot of grit, but melodically, it is fantastic. I love the opening track. The single is maybe the best single that’s hit the radio (most of them, I think are overplayed, and not as strong as other tracks). “Gone too soon” is so packed with emotion that I can’t help but cry everytime I hear it. “Outta my head” appeared in one of my dreams and I loved when they perform it live. (It was supposed to be the next single, but it NEVER made the radio). Best part- “Losing my mind” followed by “Rescue Me.” The former is very cinematic- I can picture a music video for it. and “Rescue Me” is one of my favorite melodies he’d ever written.

7. Clay Aiken- Measure of a Man

*My first ever American Idol album. Lots of great memories. His voice meant a lot to me in high school cuz it reminded me someone in my high school concert choir. Not exactly the same, but both are powerhouse vocalists. I rank this lower because Clay didn’t write any of the songs, which is fine. Josh Groban had a lot of success and is incredibly talented, but didn’t write his own music…. at least not in his first album. (I checked Wikipedia and found he started co-writing in his 2nd album). This is nothing against him personally. But music stands out to me more when someone writes it themselves. I see their soul better and I’m able to connect with that- cuts out the middle man, if you will.
The songs are written to be mainstream pop hits and they succeed. They allow his vocal dynamics to REALLY shine. Sadly, I loved this album so much that everything he’d done since couldn’t match. [that’s happened to me with other artists… although right now only Michelle Branch comes to mind. “The Spirit Room” was so good that “Hotel Paper” didn’t quite work for me. Her musical direction moved away from what worked for me personally]

6. Daughtry- self-titled

*For a debut album, it was really good. Unfortunately with time, I’d heard all the singles too many times that I don’t enjoy them quite as much. But all the other songs that never made the radio- they’re incredible. Great songwriting. Lots of emotion and dynamics and more great melodies I love singing with. “Used to” and “Break Down” are personal favorites.
And thanks to Colton Dixon performing it on Ellen, “What about now” recently regained favor with me. Now I love it and get swept up in it.

5. Colton Dixon- Anchor

*Somewhat of a spoiler, Colton’s first album is even higher on this list…
that being said, it was a hard act to follow for me personally. The one negative I found with this album was that I felt Colton’s voice got lost with the production. In some cases, there was too much going on that finding that same connection with him was difficult. But this album has gotten me through some difficult feelings I’d been having with myself and situations I’m dealing with- not all of them are my own situations, but involve people I care about.
It rocks a lot and deals with spirituality and faith and the struggles of maintaining yourself with it when you face difficulties.

4. Carrie Underwood- Blown Away

*One of my favorite American Idol memories- Carrie singing “See you again” live on Season 12. A season I didn’t even see until the top 7 (I was boycotting because of Minaj- haven’t liked her since her Grammys performance years ago- and listening to her judge was like listening to a Kardashian). I was sick of not having anything to watch on Wednesday nights. I heard Angie Miller did “Never Gone” (one of Colton’s songs) for her audition, so I watched to see her also.
The point: this performance was AMAZING. It felt like seeing a star on that stage doing what she does so effortlessly. And it’s a song I feel I can personally relate to. So I bought the album to own it, but found so much more to love. Lots of sass and gravitas. “Two Black Cadillacs” was really cinematic and impactful. I smile a lot with this music.
Why it’s not higher: I’m not a fan of country music and songs like “Thank God for Hometowns” I can’t personally relate to. But her voice is amazing (DUH!), great songwriting, great variety of music and subject matter.

3. Kris Allen- Thank You Camellia

*Fun fact: I didn’t like this album when I first got it. In fact, I felt out of sorts with it and didn’t listen to it again for YEARS. I can thank Alex Preston for this and my becoming an official Ed Sheeran. When he was eliminated from American Idol, I knew he’d put out an album at some point, so I wanted to know the other WGWG (white guys with guitars- American Idol got a lot of grief as of late cuz they kept winning the show. I was okay with it until he’s so dull Phillips won… because at that point, I’d picked 3 winners in a row. Kris, Lee and Scotty).
This has since become one of my favorite albums to bring out during summertime. It feels closer to what Kris covered on American Idol- closer to his personal sound than his debut album. Overall, it’s very strong. Only one or two songs, I don’t fully connect with. Makes me smile and I enjoy chilling with it.
One highlight that should be noted “Loves me not” which is a duet he does with Meiko. Beautiful melodies I enjoy singing with so much.

2. Daughtry- Leave this town

*From start to finish, a very solid cohesive album. The songs have their similarities as well as differences to set each of them apart. Lots of great storytelling in songs like “Open Up your eyes” and “Ghost of me.” Chris Daughtry’s voice is at its best here. And it feels more complete because he’s performing with his actual band instead of studio musicians (when his first album was being made, there wasn’t enough time to get a band together- I guess the label really wanted to capitalize on his time on the show quickly- as if people have such short term memories they’d forget the guy they all picked to win).
I bring this out around September. Not just cuz there’s a song called “September”- but I was listening to it when I saw the movie “Remember Me”- and it made me think about elements in the movie. As well as the fact I had to buy “New Moon” after seeing it. Robert Pattinson is in both, but in “New Moon,” at least he comes back in the end. It got me through a lot of grief that I channeled by singing to it.

1. Colton Dixon- A Messenger

*Probably my favorite “Idol” non-winner EVER. I wanted a girl to win season 11 so bad, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with Colton. Great emotional voice, stage presence, facial expressions (he nailed the camera smolder in his own unique way). I looked forward to what he did every week.
Then “Bad Romance” happened and I hate this TERRIBLE feeling he wasn’t going to make it to next week. That gut feeling turned out to be right. Alexis Grace was an emotional elimination for me… this topped that easily. I was devastated. I don’t know if I had any confidence that Colton would get an album out or have any sort of career, but I know I wanted it badly. And sure enough my prayers were answered… and considering how Colton is very much about his faith, I shouldn’t have been too concerned about it. God gave him this talent for a reason.
And just maybe I was a small part of that cuz I needed this kind of music in my life.

I had mixed feelings when I heard Colton would be doing Christian music. I’m not a huge fan of religious anthems or the idea of going to church and singing hymns and such. It didn’t compute with me for some reason.
I discovered for myself a couple years later that if God was going to be part of my life, it had to be a way that personally worked for me. And I feel like it has. I’m better able to accept things I can’t control or don’t agree with- it doesn’t work 100% of the time, but it’s helped with a lot of the excess baggage depressing me about life.

I started a blog post a while ago that I was going to write about how I found a way to access my own spirituality through music. And it’s still in draft mode because I haven’t gotten around to going through my spiritually inclined albums and I really deciphered what they mean for me.

But back to Colton- I liked him so much on Idol that I was going to give him a chance no matter what music he did (although I do draw the line at rap- that’s still complete garbage).
This album was and still is amazing. All of the songs fit together, but they deal with faith in different ways. He writes about it in ways I’m able to understand where it doesn’t come as preachy or condescending. It just feels natural… and when I take the time to think about it, I do learn so much from it and about myself. “Love has come for me” is the one song I’m not super jazzed about. Musically, it starts out great, but the chorus falls flat for me. Like they were two different songs that got mashed together.
Aside from that, every song is amazing. Colton gets to show off his piano skills, he co-wrote all but one song and “Let them see you” still fits him perfectly. I do see God in his music very much. Not just the talent, but the clarity of what he’s expressing as well.
I got my copy at Wal-mart the day it came out and on their version, they had a bonus track. “The Shape of your love”… the album would be incomplete without it. So amazing. Great way to sum up what all the other songs had said before it with one final strong message.

So that’s all the albums I own from the Idols…
Now I’m playing the waiting game with some other people I’d found through the show. Waiting for them to drop albums. I feel so lucky that everyone I’d really liked, they’ve found a way to put out music. Even if they didn’t win or make the finale.

So I’m still waiting on:

Jessica Meuse- but she was the reason I started buying iTunes. I got “Blue-eyed Lie” as soon as her season ended and later got “Done” when it dropped. Both great songs. Great voice and a lot of songwriting talent. She, Taylor and Swift and Lady Gaga are like the girl friends I never had and I wish I did πŸ˜› I relate to them personally through their music and also how they live their lives. Wish I had that confidence.

Jax- her single “La La Land” is amazing… although it makes me worry about the institution of American Idol a bit. Where it sounds like it was rigged for someone moldable to win instead of really unique artists. Season 14 had so many of them. Joey Cook and Quentin Alexander in particular. Loved them both and how they performed their songs. The Joey Cook quirk probably wouldn’t have made it far on the show, but it was hard when she left.
Then the whole thing with Quentin and how Idol used the footage of him and Harry having that altercation for the previews… that was really uncalled for. Quentin has had difficulties since doing the show keeping his faith in his own career. He had a crowdfounding campaign for an album, but I don’t know if he ever reached his goal.
His Twitter profile says “coming this fall’ but I don’t know if he typed that up last fall or for this one.

I also noticed that Nick, Jax, Joey and Quentin all follow me on Twitter. Which is pretty cool. A couple of them had written me back or at least liked/RT’d me if I said something they liked.

Quentin was part of a video Joey did recently called “Bones”- where she looks like she’s dressed for a Day of the Dead celebration and the music is like something out of an old western. Not quite my cup of tea, but I’m willing to try new things because she’s such a cool person.

Riley Bria, I picked to at least be a finalist on American Idol. Ever since his first audition. He seemed more ready for the big time than Daniel Seavey, who could have waited a couple years before trying out.
He’s doing a lot of performing, but don’t know if he has an album in the works or not. I certainly hope so. He’s so ready for the big time. Easily could be the next Hunter Hayes.

Then this season, there’s Dalton and Mackenzie.
I still need to buy “Roses” from Mackenzie on iTunes. It’s hard to believe how much better he’d gone since his time on The Voice and he has a better idea of what kind of artist he is and what he wants to be.
Dalton- I’d sung his praises a lot on this blog as of late, so I don’t need to keep going on about it. Still hadn’t heard from him on Twitter, though. He talks to a lot of fans (and he has many followers), but still nothing…

Anyway, American Idol, thank you for the music and all these people I wouldn’t have gotten to know if not for the show. You will be missed for sure.

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