“American Idol”: Are The Losers Really Winners In The Long run?

Jan 11th, 2007 // 5 Comments

Plans for this year’s season of American Idol, which starts next week, include possible appearances by Mariah Carey and Paul McCartney, the development of a theme-park attraction, free-flowing Coca-Cola, and, of course, the promise of megastardom:

More evidence of the power of ”American Idol” is the stunning ”Dreamgirls” film debut of Jennifer Hudson, a 2004 also-ran (to winner Fantasia Barrino) who’s up for a Golden Globe and considered a potential Oscar nominee.

That’s alongside the best-selling CDs and singles churned out by past winners including Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, and the awards they’ve collected that include Grammy and Country Music Association trophies. [ ... ]

”You’re really impacting somebody’s life,” said [FremantleMedia CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz]. ”The show’s genuinely looking for superstar contestants who really want to be pop stars. It’s not a fake-ish competition just for TV. The show delivers entertainment, but there is a very serious aim to it.”

But is placing first as much of a guarantee for success as getting exposure from it in the first place? While Underwood had a huge 2006, the debut by fifth-season winner Taylor Hicks is currently at No. 53 on the charts, and sophomore releases by previous champs Ruben Studdard and Fantasia have had soft sales. Given the recent successes of Hudson (seventh place in the third season) and Chris Daughtry (fourth place last year), one can’t help but wonder if this year’s contestants won’t be singing to win as much as they’ll be trying to stay afloat for just enough weeks to mug for the cameras, score a few pairs of Old Navy cargo pants, and shake it off with Mariah.

‘Idol’ Hands Hard at Work for Season Six [AP via NYT]


  1. Chris Molanphy

    Agreed on all counts — winning the contest is overrated. It’s all about exposure.

    Short answer: The kind of person who watches the show and votes is not necessarily the kind of person who buys records.

    I’m starting to think that Mario Vasquez is the smartest American Idol contestant ever. Why go through all that? (the show, the rapacious Simon Fuller contract) Clever lad.

  2. beta.rogan

    Yeah, I mean look at Justin Guarini…they didn’t even mention how well his band Wolfmother is doing.

  3. JobCain

    I was going to hate on Paul McCartney for this, but after releasing “Freedom”, absolutely anything he does seems like a glowing display of ethical artistic choices in comparison.

  4. mike a

    Being the American Idol first place winner seems to have about as much guarantee of success as the “Best New Artist” Grammy award.

  5. Jupiter8

    Actually, we’re ALL losers….

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