In terms of album releases, 2009 was a banner year for Idol fans.
We got new music from five of Idols’ first six winners — Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks and Jordin Sparks.
And, unless I’m missing something 19 albums from Idol contestants all told.
Here are my picks for the best and worst of 2009. Expectation versus execution counts. So does the ability to pen some of one’s own music.
Eligibility runs from December 2008 through November 2009, and Christmas albums don’t count. (Sorry, David Archuleta fans.) The embedded links take you to the full Idol Chatter review for each album.
Don’t agree? Feel free to post your comments below.
And check back through the rest of the week as Idol Chatter continues to look back at the last year for the show and its contestants.
Tomorrow: The best Idol videos from 2009.
The Best Albums
The type of southern rock album Bo Bice probably wishes he had been allowed to release after Idol season four. Crank up the volume and enjoy some raucous rock. Amanda, 11th in season seven, wrote and arranged all the tracks. A pleasant surprise.
Sing on is precisely what Carrie does in a third album that covers all the familiar bases and includes enough potential hits to keep Ms. Underwood on the country music charts until whenever album number four lands. “Cowboy Casanova” already hit number one; “Temporary Home” is on the road there.
None of the cover songs he sang on Idol indicated Michael would release this strong of an album. Highly underrated. I mean, there’s not a throwaway track here. Michael, eighth on season seven, co-wrote six of the 12 tracks.
What sophomore jinx? Not with a rock solid rock album like this one. It’ll be tough to match the sales success of the 2006 debut, but it won’t be because the material isn’t strong enough.
Just one album, so much pop goodness. And the only Idol album from 2009 to spend more than a week atop the Billboard 200 album chart. A radical change from the critically acclaimed “My December,” but who can complain given the new album’s chart success.
“High Hopes & Heartbreak,” Brooke White: As honest an album as you’ll get, which doesn’t always happen when Idol contestants head into the studio.
“Freedom,” Mandisa: Who said a Christian album has to be boring? Mandisa dances a little, rocks a little and sounds great throughout.
“For Your Entertainment,” Adam Lambert: Between the dance beats and vocal histrionics, it’s an attention grabber. And the lead single was far from the best the album has to offer.
The Worst Albums
Someone decided we needed a full album of Ruben singing love ballads, so here it is. A snooze, except for when the covers don’t work (“Too Many Words”) and when an occasional song really does (“My Love Is a Rock”).
If I put together a list of the year’s worst Idol songs, three of them would be here, including rip-offs of “Achy Breaky Heart” and “All Right Now” and Taylor singing salsa. No thanks.
Like Kellie Pickler, George decided to hold the self title for his second album. But by the time you reach the one song that works, “Here With Me,” you will have likely turned it off.
Sanjaya couldn’t just release a book. He had to go and release a five-song EP too. Which serves as a great reminder of how odd it was that he actually finished seventh in season six. Hey, the background singers aren’t bad on “Rainy Days.”
Also released this year
“Kris Allen,” Kris Allen
“Heartbreak on Vinyl,” Blake Lewis
“Into the Light,” Phil Stacey
“Battlefield,” Jordin Sparks
“So Glad I’m Me,” LaKisha Jones
“For Your Love,” Elliott Yamin
“Coming Back to You,” Melinda Doolittle
Released in December