This year got off to a slow start in terms of American Idol album releases.
Through the end of May, we’d gotten just two full-length albums from former contestants from the show.
You might say things picked up after that. Nine winners or runners-up wound up releasing albums or EPs in 2015.
And that included the two most successful former winners of them all, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.
Here are my picks for the best five American Idol albums or EPs from 2015.
For links to past top albums links, see the bottom of this blog.
Yesterday, I posted my picks for best Idol videos of the year. Tomorrow: the Top 10 Idol songs of 2015.
As for all the other 2015 albums, you can head here for mini-reviews and to listen to a song from each one.
5. Alex Preston, “Alex Preston”
Hope Alex has a long-term lease on that secluded cabin in the desert where he went to work on this album. Because the strategy sure worked. This was an easy pick for the fifth spot on this list thanks to songs like “200 Miles,” “You,” “Break My Heart” and “The Light was Already Here.” Alex helped fund the album and that stay in the cabin through a Kickstarter campaign that reached its goal in 12 hours.
4. Kelly Clarkson, “Piece by Piece”
Kelly serves up more pop goodness, including a lead single (“Heartbeat Song”) that was the most successful song of the year from a former Idol contestant. It peaked at number 21 on the Billboard 100. Other highlights include the touching title track, the very catchy “Warpaint” and a ballad called “Run, Run, Run,” featuring an assist from John Legend. Kelly has a writing credit on three of 13 tracks.
3. Adam Lambert, “Original High”
Has a better male singer ever graced the American Idol stage? The answer would be an easy no. I mean, just check out the vocal on “There I Said It.” Adam promised less theatrics and vocal hijinks on this album, but shackling that voice too much would be a crime. Standout tracks include lead single “Ghost Town,” “Evil in the Night” and “Lucy,” the latter with a guitar assist from Brian May of Queen.
2. David Cook, “Digital Vein”
David released his third post-Idol album independently and credits it for reaffirming “my love for making music.” “Digital Vein” hit iTunes in October, then hit number 35 on the Billboard 200, despite the lack of label support. A successful Pledge Music campaign helped. So did great music, with “Criminals,” “Carry You” and “Kiss & Tell” among the best new tunes. David also included a superb cover of “Wicked Game” and “Laying Me Low” and “Wait for Me,” two fine singles he’d released in the four years since his last album.
1. Carrie Underwood, “Storyteller”
Carrie promised more of an edge to album number five and certainly delivered, grabbing your attention with the hard-charging opening track “Renegade Runaway” and seldom letting up on a record dripping with singles. When she does go softer, the results are equally impressive, especially on “Like I’ll Never Love You Again.” Carrie has a co-write credit on six of the 13 tracks, including “Smoke Break,” the superb lead single. This marked Carrie’s sixth straight debut at number one on Billboard’s country albums chart.