Two Words – American Idol. This music reality competition show has been in our homes, on our television screens, on Wednesday and Thursday nights for the past fifteen years. If you’ve been a loyal watcher, like I have been through the years, I’m sure you experienced the same rollercoaster of emotions, when we said a final, bittersweet goodbye to the show last month, on April 7th.
While we’re all still trying to figure out what Ryan Seacrest’s “For Now” comment at the end of the show meant… I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane and explore the impact that American Idol has had on country music, and revisit the 7 wonderful country artists who owe their careers to the show, its producers, and of course the countless fans who faithfully cast their votes.
I’ll put them in order of popularity in a “Top SEVEN List” and mention what they’re doing now…
7. Bucky Covington
Covington finished in 8th place during season 5 of Idol. He currently has a new EP out entitled, “Happy Man.” Check out his current single, “I Feel Ya.”
6. Casey James
James placed third in the ninth season of American Idol. James has since come out with an album entitled “Casey James,” and had a couple #1 hits off of it, including “Let’s Don’t Call It A Night” and “Cryin’ On A Suitcase” in 2012. James latest single is “Fall Apart.”
5. Lauren Alaina
You might remember this “Georgia Peach” as runner up on season 10 of American Idol. Alaina’s debut album, “Wildflower” was released October 11, 2011. Her first single after Idol was “Like My Mother Does.” Since then, Alaina has come out with a new EP entitled “Lauren Alaina” and her current single from the EP is “Next Boyfriend.”
4. Scotty McCreery
Who can forget this “Water Tower Town Boy” from Garner, North Carolina, stealing girls hearts and winning season 10 of American Idol? McCreery scored his first certified platinum album after Idol, entitled “Clear As Day.” His first single was “I Love You This Big.” Since Idol, he has done a Christmas album and released another mainstream album, “See You Tonight“, in 2013. McCreery has been climbing the charts with his current single, “Southern Belle.” In addition to his successful music career, McCreery can now add “author” to his list of credits after recently publishing his first book and autobiography, “Go Big Or Go Home.”
3. Kellie Pickler
Perhaps one of the most popular skating waitresses from the SONIC® drive-in chain, this southern gal blew us all away with her amazing voice on Idol! Pickler placed sixth on season five of Idol. She has had radio success with many songs, some of which include “Red High Heels,” “Best Days Of Your Life,” “Tough,” and “Little Bit Gypsy.” Her most recent album is, “The Woman I Am.” Since her run on Idol, Pickler has found success not only with her music, but in her love-life and on TV as well, with her hit television show on CMT, “I Love Kellie Pickler” now in its second season.
2. Kelly Clarkson
If you ask most people to name the most powerful voice to come out of American Idol, the answer will overwhelmingly be the winner from all the way back in season 1 – Kelly Clarkson. In the past 15 years since Idol began, Clarkson has become one of the most popular and successful among the alumni of the show. And although she was originally a “pop” artist, it’s not surprising that she eventually made her way over to country music, considering her “girl-next-door” personality and her being from Texas, not to mention the fact that her mother in-law is country music royalty (Reba McEntire)! Since Idol, Clarkson has given us so many songs we’ll never forgot, like “Since You’ve Been Gone,” “Breakaway,” “My Life Would Suck Without You,” “Mr. Know It All,” “Stronger,” “Miss Independent,” and “Because Of You.” Clarkson is still stronger than ever! Her current album “Piece By Piece” is available now and the title track is her current single.
1. Carrie Underwood
Though she’s no Merle Haggard, this “Okie from Muskogee” and winner of the fourth season of American Idol is by far one of the biggest names in country music. Carrie Underwood came out of Idol with her first album “Some Hearts” in 2005 and her first single was “Jesus, Take The Wheel.” Over the next eleven years, Underwood has released a plethora of hit songs, including, “So Small,” “Last Name,” “Before He Cheats,” “Wasted,” “Undo It,” “Just A Dream,” “All American Girl,” “Cowboy Casanova,” “Two Black Cadillacs,” “Temporary Home,” and “See You Again.” That’s just naming a FEW; The list goes on and on. In addition to her solo singles, Underwood has collaborated with several artists for duets including, Randy Travis, Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert. And, Underwood shows no signs of slowing down – she is currently touring the country on her “The Storyteller Tour,” and her latest single, “Church Bells” is well on its way to scoring her another #1 single.
So, after looking back down memory lane, it’s obvious that the country music industry, and all its fans, have a lot to thank American Idol for. The show has impacted, not only country music, but the entire music industry – forever changing the way we discover, market, and consume music.
Thank you American Idol for 15 years of great entertainment and amazing music.
Have thoughts about how American Idol has impacted Country Music? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!