This wasn’t the kindest of years to American Idol in terms of CD sales.
The three albums that hung around on the Billboard 200 the longest — Carrie Underwood’s “Play On,” Daughtry’s “Leave This Town,” and Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment” — were all holdovers from 2009.
The only 2010 Idol release to make a significant dent in the charts: season four winner Fantasia’s third album.
But that doesn’t mean former Idol contestants didn’t release good music in 2010. Here are my picks for the five best albums.
Coming tomorrow: The top 10 songs of 2010. Followed, on Friday, by the top videos of 2010.
So keep checking back.
And if you want a look at my grades for all Idol albums from 2010, and most from past years, go here and check out a new section of Idol Chatter.
Now, my top five albums …
The album was supposed to be called “Different Shades of Blue.” Two months before it’s release, Bo shortened it to “3.” After all, it’s his third album. And Bo’s wife had just delivered the couple’s third son. Regardless of the title, it’s Bo’s best yet by far, with a nice helping of southern rock that was sorely lacking in his post-Idol debut and more country than fans might expect. Bottom line: It works, from start to finish. The song that was supposed to be the title track is great; so is the album-closing “You Take Yourself with You.”
The reviews have been mixed. In my mind, it’s the best debut yet from an Idol finalist. And proof that an Idol finalist doesn’t have to sacrifice his or her identity when releasing a first album in conjunction with 19 Entertainment. In fact, many of the songs on this CD were written by Crystal before Idol, including “Holy Toledo,” “Speak Now” and the magnificent title track, “Farmer’s Daughter.” Crystal’s emotions come through strongest when she’s singing about trials she’s faced in the past, but this is far from a one-trick album. An example: “Mason,” a song written post-Idol with her husband, Brian Walker.
The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 and number one on the R&B chart. It’s already produced two R&B hits singles (“Bittersweet” and “I’m Doin’ Me”). I like the playful dance tune “Falling in Love Tonight” better than either of those songs. I hate that Fantasia has a reality show. One episode was more than enough for me. But it’s tough to argue with an album that has been one of the most successful among Idols in sales and chart performance. Plus, it landed a Grammy nomination for Idol’s season three winner. And no one can argue with that voice.
The album spent just three weeks on the Billboard 200, which means it’s vastly underappreciated in my mind. For those who forgot — or never knew — We Are the Fallen is three-fifths former members of Evanescence, plus bass guitarist Marty O’Brien, plus former season seven Idol Carly Smithson. And Carly never sounded this good on Idol, belting out the rockers (“Bury Me Alive”) and the power ballads (“Sleep Well, My Angel”) with equal aplomb. Another highlight: “Paradigm.” So, who’s the little dark-haired girl standing amid all the destruction on the album cover?
This was the toughest pick on the list. Should the honor go to Jason Castro’s hit-and-miss debut because of a few golden moments or to David’s second album for being solid from beginning to end. In the end, I chose David. Jason’s album relied on golden moments from Idol to make it more palatable; David put out a better sophomore album than his debut. He had a hand in writing more of the material, too, with credits on 10 of the 12 songs. And it’s just so darn upbeat and … well, David being David. It’s just a shame the sales numbers for the album haven’t been more upbeat to this point.