Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Our local paper (Los Angeles Times) ran a list of the most popular American Idol contestants of all time — the key word here being “popular.”

This particular survey reflects who the voters liked the most, and not directly based on their history of show business success or album sales.

Here is their Top 10:

1. Kelly Clarkson; 2. Carrie Underwood; 3. Jennifer Hudson; 4. David Cook; 5. Adam Lambert; 6. Fantasia Barrino; 7. Constantine Maroulis; 8. Kris Allen; 9. Clay Aiken; 10. Chris Daughtry.

It's interesting having three women at the top, but even more so seeing six of the 10 who were not the winner in their particular season. Only Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Kris Allen actually won.

Now I would like to see the Top 10 based strictly on sales figures, and a comparison of the two lists.
—Lara Torrent, Burbank, Calif.

DEAR LARA: It comes as no shock finding that personal popularity and the capacity to create sales are not always directly proportional. Four names — including one winner (Kris Allen) — in the Times' Top 10 are not among the 10 top album sellers (U.S. sales only). Note that the top two gals on this list are flip-flopped:

1. Carrie Underwood (Season 4): 12.3 million; 2. Kelly Clarkson (Season 1): 10.6 million; 3. Chris Daughtry (Season 5): 6 million; 4. Clay Aiken (Season 2): 4.9 million; 5. Fantasia Barrino (Season 3): 2.8 million; 6. Ruben Studdard (Season 2): 2.5 million; 7. David Cook (Season 7): 1.34 million; 8. Kellie Pickler (Season 5): 1.32 million; 9. Jordin Sparks (Season 6): 1.2 million; 10. Jennifer Hudson (Season 3): 1.15 million.

Neither Daughtry, Aiken, nor Pickler won the competition, yet each outsold the Idol winner for their season, some by a wide margin.

None of the three top vote-getters in Season 5, Taylor Hicks (1), Katharine McPhee (2), and Elliott Yamin (3), are among the Top 10 in sales. Daughtry came in fourth that year, and Pickler sixth.

In Season 2, Ruben Studdard's Idol vote total barely exceeded runner-up Clay Aiken's, but at the cash register, Clay's 4.9 million albums sold is about double Ruben's.

Besides Taylor Hicks, other winners and runners-up whose sales do not yet qualify them for a Top 10 slot are: (Season 7) David Archuleta (2nd); (Season 8) Kris Allen (1st) and Adam Lambert (2nd); (Season 9); Lee DeWyze (1st) and Crystal Bowersox (2nd).

A rare and quirky chart event, involving the Season 4 winner and runner-up, occurred in 2005.

Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice both recorded versions of “Inside Your Heaven,” and the two records made their chart debut one week apart.

On Billboard's Hot 100 Singles for the week of July 9, Carrie's version held the No. 3 position and Bo's was No. 2.

Not since early 1957 (Sonny James and Tab Hunter with “Young Love”) do I recall two different recordings of the same song being in Billboard's Top 3 at the exact same time.

IZ ZAT SO? Countless times over Idol's 10 seasons, we've heard the judges refer to when the contestants “make a record.”

Truth is, very few of them make records. CDs and digital files for downloading, yes, and those are recordings, but they are not records.

Of those who do have their name on an actual record, nearly all are promotional pressings made either for juke boxes or 12-inch disco singles for club play.

Mostly from the singers mentioned above, here are those who can honestly say they made a record:

Clay Aiken: “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (2003); “Invisible” (2004).
Fantasia Barrino: “Truth Is” (2004); “Baby Mama” (2005); “Hood Boy” (2006).
Bo Bice: “Inside Your Heaven” (2005).
Kelly Clarkson: “A Moment Like This” (2002); “Miss Independent” (2003); “Since U Been Gone” (2004); “Behind These Hazel Eyes” (2005); “Because of You” (2005); “Walk Away” (2006).
Justin Guarini: “Unchained Melody” (2003).
Taylor Hicks: “Do I Make You Proud” (2006).
Katharine McPhee: “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (2006).
Kellie Pickler: “Don't You Know You're Beautiful” (2008); “Makin' Me Fall in Love Again” (2008).
Jordin Sparks: “Tattoo Remixes” (2007).
Ruben Studdard: “Flying Without Wings” (2003); “Sorry 2004” (2003); “What If” (2004); “What Is Sexy” (2004).
Carrie Underwood: “Inside Your Heaven” (2005).

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