Here’s the problem with “The Real Thing:” It doesn’t seem like the real thing. Hey, several of the songs are catchy in a pop-rock sorta way. Bo displays his vocal talent. But where, oh where, is Bo Bice the southern rocker? We get a smidgeon of him on the final track, “Valley of Angels” and that’s it.
Download worthy: “The Real Thing,” “You’re Everything,” “Valley of Angels.”
Chart performance: The album debuted at number four on the Billboard 200 and went gold. The title track, co-written by Kara DioGuardi, was released as the first single. No singles matched the success of Bo’s version of the season three coronation song, “Inside Your Heaven,” which reached number two among the Hot 100.
Released: November 2005
Idol finish: 1st, Season 4
Idol made Carrie a household name. This debut album made her a star and guaranteed we’ll be hearing country music from Ms. Underwood for years to come. “Before He Cheats,” the cross-over hit and anthem for angry gals everywhere was one of three number one singles from an album that sold more than 7 million copies.
Download worthy: Besides the hits, check out: “Lessons Learned,” “That’s Where It Is”
Chart performance: Surprisingly, “Some Hearts” never topped the Billboard 200. It did top the country album chart, of course. “Before He Cheats” was the most successful single on the Hot 100, hitting number eight. The other number one country singles were “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “Wasted.” The album also includes the Idol coronation song, “Inside Your Heaven,” which reached number one on the Hot 100 before the CD was released.
“Songs From the Attic”
Released: Oct. 18, 2005
Idol finish: 5th, Season 7
Brooke’s independent album, released two years before she appeared on Idol, is a bit hit and miss. But when it hits, it’s a wonderful reminder of why she was a fan favorite during season seven. She wrote of co-wrote eight of the 11 tracks.
Download worthy: “Yellow,” “Change,” “Follow Me.”
Chart performance: Did not chart on the Billboard 200, though “Yellow” became a Brooke White standard on the 2008 Idol tour.
AllMusic.com: Gives Brooke 3 stars out of 5
That George was the last male standing (fifth place) in season three is a damning indictment of someone. Proof positive that nice guys don’t always finish last. But that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to record an album. Don’t be fooled by the dance beat on the first track; this isn’t an entertaining Christian/Gospel album Mandisa-style. It quickly slips into one forgetable song after another, which George fails to pull off. “Bounce” ranks among the worst tracks released by an Idol contestant.
Download worthy: “Only Love”
Chart performance: The album reached number 30 on Billboard’s Christian album chart, number eight on the gospel chart.
AllMusic.com: Gives George 3 stars out of 5
Two contestants finished between LaToya and Fantasia on season three of Idol. Her debut abum certainly exceeds either. A nice mix of R&B material and silky smooth vocals that turn downright sensual when LaToya dials up her passionate side, which she does quite frequently here. Impressive.
Download worthy: “Anything,” “How I Love the Rain,” “Scandalous”
Chart performance: Debuted at number 82 on the Billboard 200 and in the top 30 on the R&B chart.
AllMusic.com: Gives LaToya 3 stars out of 5
Jasmine, the third-place finisher in season three, was 18 when her debut CD was released. She gives it a valiant effort, but can’t overcome the second-rate R&B material with which she’s saddled.
Download worthy: “Can’t Hold Back,” “All I Need”
Chart peformance: Failed to chart on Billboard 200, but won best pop album of the year at the Hawaii Music Awards in 2006.
AllMusic.com: Gives Jasmine 4 stars out of 5
If you got goosebumps every time Idol announced plans for a Frank Sinatra Night or a Rat Pack Night, by all means, hunt for a copy of this album. If not, don’t bother. To his credit, John sounds better covering these old tunes better than 95 percent of his Idol colleagues ever will. But why bother mimicking the original when listeners can just download the originals.
Download worthy: I get angry when Idol announces plans for a Frank sinatra Night because it all seems so irrelevant.
Chart performance: Failed to chart on the Billboard 200; according to Wikipedia, the album reached number eight on the jazz chart.
AllMusic.com: Gives John 3 stars out of 5
The only album released to date by the season two finalist who was disqualified for a pre-Idol arrest, then claimed an affair with Paula Abdul. He puts those claims to song (“Paulatics”), dance beat and all, and also addresses her at length in the CD notes. In truth, there are many worse Idol albums, though few individual tracks as bad as Corey’s cover of “All This Love.”
Download worthy: “Out of Control,” “Follow That Back”
Chart performance: Did not chart.
If anyone knows of other rated reviews still online, let me know.
Appropriately named album from the season one finalist. It reaches a peak with sexy dance beats; it plummets and you’ll definitely want off when the dance beats fade and the ballads start. Interesting enough to merit a listen — for free on MySpace.
Download worthy: “Forbidden Love,” “Move,” “You Turn it On.”
Chart performance: Did not chart. The single, “You Turn it On,” cracked the top 30 on Billboard’s dance chart.
AllMusic.com: Gives Jim 2.5 stars out of 5