2017 in Review, American Idol

2017 post-American Idol albums and EPs

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Former American Idol contestants released about 35 albums or EPs in 2017.

Below, you’ll find mini-reviews for each of those. Head here, and you’ll find Idol Chatter’s picks for the Top 5 of 2017.

And, please, if I’ve missed anyone, let me know by commenting below. I’m including albums and EPs from everyone who advanced as far as the live shows on Idol, which in some season meant the Top 10 and in others the Top 13.

This wraps up the 2017 in Review series. To watch the Top 5 videos of 2017, head here. To listen to the Top 10 songs, head here.

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Why Don't We with Daniel Seavey of American Idol Season 13Why Don’t We (Daniel Seavey)
“A Why Don’t We Christmas” EP

Nov. 23, 2017
Finish: 9th, Season 14

A five-track Christmas EP courtesy of Seavey and his boy band colleagues Jonah Marais, Corbyn Besson, Jack Avery and Zach Herron. It’s easily the most vocally impressive of their four EPs from 2017, partly because studio tricks are left behind in favor of more emphasis on their harmonies. “Kiss You This Christmas” will make some young girls tingle and “Hey, Good Lookin'” is anything but a Hank Williams’ cover. But it is quite catchy.

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Katherine McPhee of American Idol Season 5Katharine McPhee
“I Fall in Love Too Easily”

Released: Nov. 17, 2017
Finish: 2nd, Season 5

After her under-rated pop album “Hysteria” was largely ignore in 2015, the Scorpio actress decided to do a 180-degree turn and release a 10-track album of jazz standards. Katharine sounds great, if you don’t mind songs first recorded decades ago, and if you can stay awake. “Night and Day,” a song recorded by a one point by Cole Porter, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, was the lead single.

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Kelly Clarkson
“The Meaning of Life”

Released: Oct. 27, 2017
Finish: 1st, Season 1

Kelly called her first album with Atlantic “the record I’ve been wanting to make since I was a little kid.” Translation: More soul and sass, a bit less pop. The result: Another great album from the original Idol, still filled with songs that will make you want to move or sing along. Lead single “Love So Soft” hit number one on the club dance songs chart; the album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200.

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David Archuleta of American Idol Season 7David Archuleta
“Postcards in the Sky”

Released: Oct. 20, 2017
Finish: 2nd, Season 7

Fans clamoring for new music from long-silent David Archuleta had to be beside themselves in 2017 — a pair of four-track EPs preceded this 16-track album, which features eight new songs, all co-written by David. Tops among the new songs are the title track, “A Little Goes a Long Way” and “Seasons,” a lovely duet with former Voice contestant Madilyn Paige. Said David: “I felt all these songs were my Postcards in the Sky.”

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Nick Fradiani, American Idol's Season 14 winnerNick Fradiani
“Where We Left Off” EP

Released: Oct. 17, 2017
Finish: 1st, Season 15

Nick’s post-victory, major-label album (“Hurricane”) was a flop, debuting at #121 on the Billboard 200. So minus a label, he released this six-track independent EP, with a writing credit on every track. He even co-produced the EP with former Beach Avenue bandmate Nick Adams. It’s a step in the right direction, as evidenced by two of the EP’s strongest tracks, “Scared” and lead single “Wait for You.”

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Fantasia, winner of American Idol Season 3Fantasia
“Christmas After Midnight”

Released: Oct. 6, 2017
Finish: 1st, Season 3

Fantasia didn’t even wait until mid-October to release her first-ever Christmas album and her first release for Concord Records after years with RCA. It peaked at number three on Billboard’s holiday albums chart, number 193 on the Billboard 200 and features Fantasia’s take on such Christmas classics as “This Christmas,” “Silent Night” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” the latter with an assist from Cee Lo Green.

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Jasmine Murray of American Idol Season  8Jasmine Murray
“Jasmine Murray” EP

Released: Sept. 29, 2017
Finish: Top 12, Season 8

Post-Idol, Jasmine was crowned Miss Mississippi and went on to finish in the Top 10 in the 2015 Miss America pageant. Now she’s launched a Christian music career with this six-track EP and a single (“For God So Loved”) released a month later. She also toured recently with Mandisa and Danny Gokey. The EP features Christian pop tunes with “No Other Love” as the catchiest and “Fearless” as the best-performing single, reaching the Top 10 on Billboard’s Christian airplay chart.

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Why Don't We with Daniel Seavey of American Idol Season 13Why Don’t We (Daniel Seavey)
“Invitation” EP

Sept. 26, 2017
Finish: 9th, Season 14

Seavey and boy band friends Jonah Marais, Corbyn Besson, Jack Avery and Zach Herron are back with their third five-track EP of the year and their fourth since forming. The title track is most popular on iTunes, “M.I.A.” is the catchiest of the five songs here and “Boomerang” might be the worst song released in 2017 with an Idol connection. “I let you go / I set you free / like boomerang / you come back to me.” Ugh!

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Haley Reinhart of American Idol Season 10Haley Reinhart
“What’s That Sound?”

Released: Sept. 22, 2017
Finish: 3rd, Season 10

The young woman who should have won Season 10 got her start joining her parents’ 1960s cover band on stage as a child. So what’s more natural for Haley than a 1960s cover album, featuring her mom on background vocals and her dad on guitar. Haley’s growl and sultry vocals are especially effective on “The Letter,” “These Boots are Made for Walking” and “Time of the Season.” The album also features two collaborations with Haley’s old Idol partner, Casey Abrams, and three originals.

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Dalton Rappatoni
“Nobody’s Home”

Released: Sept. 22, 2107
Finish: 3rd, Season 15

An ambitious 15-track pop album from the guy who was once a member of a boy band called IM5 and lead vocalist for an alternative group called Fly Away Hero. “Signs” was the lead single, and it’s certainly worth a listen. But my favorite tracks from the album are “Somewhere in America” and a pair of ballads, “Back to the Moon” and “Would You Like That.”

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Diana DeGarmo
“Gemini Vol. 1”

Released: Sept. 4
Finish: 2nd, Season 3

I’m not even sure what this four-track EP is supposed to be. It’s classified as pop on iTunes, but two of the songs (“Sugar and Spice” and “Love Me or Let Me Go”) sound like semi-comic country throwback tunes. An EP of showtunes perhaps, given all the time Diana’s spent in musical theater? The fun “Lickety-Split” is my favorite song on the EP. That said, nothing here is likely to find its way onto one of my Spotify playlists.

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Andrew Garcia of American Idol Season 9Andrew Garcia
“Love Wounds” EP

Released: Aug. 28, 2017
Finish: 9th, Season 9

The second post-show EP from Andrew, who also released three stand-alone singles in 2017. “Hurts Like Hell” and “Pray for Me” appear to be the most popular songs on iTunes, but my personal favorites are a pair of impassioned ballads — “If I Don’t Have You” and “Cry.” On the latter, Andrew is joined by a chorus of voices by the end of the song.

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David Archuleta of American Idol Season 7David Archuleta
“Leo” EP

Released: Aug. 25, 2017
Finish: 2nd, Season 7

After four years without a major release, the former American Idol runner-up returned to the pop music scene in a big way in 2017. This marked his second of three major releases and his second EP named after a constellation. David’s explanation: “This phase of my life is all about looking up.” And taking more control of his music, which made Leo a perfect choice of constellation’s. This EP is marked by the glorious and inspirational, “I’m Ready.”

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Adanna Duru of The Voice Season 3Adanna Duru
“Stardive”

Released: Aug. 18, 2017
Finish: Battle round, Season 3

Adanna was bumped from The Voice early in Season 3 but made it all the way to the Top 11 on American Idol three springs later. Her eight-track debut album is a versatile effort and certainly not bound by pop conventions (one song runs 6 minutes). You’ll want to check out the addictive tongue-in-cheek “Quinn” and the balad “Are You Gonna Call.”

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Joshua Ledet of American Idol Season 11Joshua Ledet
“Joshua Ledet” EP

Released: July 28, 2017
Finish: 3rd, Season 11

Coming five years after his first impressed us with that incredible voice on Idol, this marks the first major release from Joshua. Unfortunately, none of the four original tracks showcase those vocals as well as his first post-show single, 2015’s “Love Can Do.” This five-track EP does include an outstanding cover of “Dream On” with a vocal assist from Season 15 Idol runner-up La’Porsha Renae.

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Jeremy Rosado of American Idol Season 11Jeremy Rosado
“Rewind” EP

Released: June 22, 2017
Finish: 13th, Season 11

Post-show, Jeremy released a 12-track pop album called “Heartbeat” in 2015. He also became a worship leader at a church in Florida, so the switch to Christian pop music for this five-track EP is hardly surprising. The title track, about turning a new leaf, is the catchiest. Jeremy also serves us a fine ballad with “Jesus Is.”

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Zealyn (Angie Miller) of American Idol Season 12Zealyn (Angie Miller)
“Limbic System Reimagined”

Released: June 17, 2017
Finish: 3rd, Season 12

Pop-rock singer Angie Miller adopted the stage name Zealyn post-show and her music took a much more laid back, alternative turn. She released an EP called “Limbic System” in 2016. Here, she presents remixes of those seven songs. Easily the best of the bunch is the Austin Cannon remix of “Summer Day.”

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Crystal Bowersox
“Alive”

Released: June 16, 2017
Finish: 2nd, Season 9

Crystal is the most underrated of all American Idol finalists in my mind, and there’s no better way to appreciate her talent than listening to this album. The two-song interlude of “Marlboro Man” and “Let Me Walk Away” is absolutely magical. And how can you not be touched by her autobiographical “No Mistake?” Unlike most live albums, most of the songs here are previously unreleased, though Crystal fittingly ends the set with her marvelous cover of “Me and Bobby McGee.”

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Casey James
“Strip It Down”

Released: June 9, 2017
Finish: 3rd, Season 9

Casey released a successful country album post-Idol, but says he never really considered himself a country artist. So he went back to his roots — the blues — on this independent album with impressive results. The second half of the 14-track album is especially impressive with blues rockers like the title track, “Supernatural,” “Killin’ Myself” and “Fight You for the Blues” sure to entice you to groove.

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Jena Irene Asciutto of American Idol Season 13Jena Irene Asciutto
“Cold Fame”

Released: June 2, 2017
Finish: 2nd, Season 13

Jena’s long-awaited “Cold Fame” album would have seemed oh, so much more impressive if five of the best tracks hadn’t already appeared on the 2016 “Innocence” EP. Tops among the nine new tracks — “Black Magic,” “Bitch Me Out” and the fun and retro-sounding “White Girl Wasted,” which Jena introduces by whispering “somebody told me to write a single.” As for her “I Get High” celebration of pot … time will tell whether making that a single and music video was a wise career move.

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Why Don't We with Daniel Seavey of American Idol Season 13Why Don’t We (Daniel Seavey)
“Why Don’t We Just” EP

June 2, 2017
Finish: 9th, Season 14

The second EP of the year and the third overall from a boy band quintet that includes Seavey, Jonah Marais, Corbyn Besson, Jack Avery and Zach Herron. The lead single is a not-so-subtle play on the group’s name, plus a plea to young girls to leave the drama behind and just love and chill. I’m not sure what the point of “All My Love” is since there are five singers in the group and it’s largely acoustic.

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Mandisa from American Idol Season 5Mandisa
“Out of the Dark”

Released: May 19, 2017
Finish: 9th, Season 5

Mandisa’s first album in four years followed a period in which she slipped into a deep depression after a close friend died of cancer. In fact, that’s the focus of multiple songs on the album — including lead single “Unfinished” and “Prove Me Wrong.” It also explains the album title. Other must-hear tracks include “Good News,” “My First Love” and a rousing collaboration with Toby Mac and Kirk Franklin called “Bleed the Same.” The album debuted at number one on the Christian chart.

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David Archuleta of American Idol Season 7David Archuleta
“Orion” EP

Released: May 19, 2017
Finish: 2nd, Season 7

Nearly 10 years removed from American Idol and four from his last major release, David kicked off a busy 2017 with this four-track EP, dubbed his “first adult” project. It marked an excellent start for the guy who allowed his pop music career to be interrupted by a two-year mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Numb,” released as a single late in 2016, is the standout track, but the other three songs here aren’t far behind.

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Dexter Roberts of American Idol Season 13Dexter Roberts
“Unplugged” Vol. 1 EP

Released: May 12, 2017
Finish: 7th, Season 13

This marks the second post-show EP from the good ol’ country boy from Season 13. With songs like “Duck Blind” and “Refrigerator Pictures,” the good ol’ boy part certainly hasn’t changed on this five-song acoustic collection. The best of the bunch is EP-opening “On the Map,” a celebration of small-town girls “dancing in the moonlight / shaking stuff / to every country song / that comes on.” Dexter even sounds grittier than normal on the track.

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Allison Iraheta of Hallo Circus and American Idol Season 8Halo Circus (Allison Iraheta)
“The East Lansing Sessions” EP

May 5, 2017
Finish: 4th, Season 8

Allison and her post-Idol rock band, Halo Circus, goes stripped down on five tracks recorded at the Troubadour Recording Studios in Lansing, Mich. Three are songs from their 2016 debut album “Bunny,” with Allison sounding especially great on “Band-Aid.” New songs include the original “Stand Up” with its addictive chorus and a cover of Neil Young’s “Needle and the Damage Done.”

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Why Don't We with Daniel Seavey of American Idol Season 13Why Don’t We (Daniel Seavey)
“Something Different” EP

April 21, 2017
Finish: 9th, Season 14

Teenager Daniel Seavey seemed in way over his head as male pop singer on Season 14 of Idol. Post-show, he joined this new boy band with Jonah Marais, Corbyn Besson, Jack Avery and Zach Herron. This marks the group’s second EP, featuring a title track that has been one of the quintet’s most popular singles yet. The last of the five tracks, “Never Know,” is also worth a listen.

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Kris Allen of American Idol Season 8Kris Allen
“Letting You In: Acoustic Performances” EP

Released: April 7, 2017
Finish: 1st, Season 8

Kris serves up acoustic versions of five songs from his fine 2016 album, “Letting You In.” Honestly, in most case I prefer the fully produced tracks. Most impressive among the acoustic versions here are “Venice” and “Time Will Tell.” Kris followed up the EP with two new acoustic singles.

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Colton Dixon of American Idol Season 11Colton Dixon
“Identity”

Released: March 24, 2017
Finish: 7th, Season 11

Colton called his third post-Idol Christian album “the most fun album I’ve made so far.” And though the weakest selling, it still hit number one on the Christian albums chart. Lead single “All That Matters” cracked the Top 15 on the Billboard Christian airplay chart. But the best tracks here happened when Colton goes upbeat on songs like “Down,” “No Greater Love” and “High.”

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LaPorsha Renae of American Idol Season 15La”Porsha Renea
“Already All Ready”

Released: March 13, 2017
Finish: 2nd, Season 14

La’Porsha sounded incredible on the show and she sounds incredible on her post-show debut album, though she’s sometimes let down by the material on this 13-track album. That’s not the case with the rollicking title track or with her “Good Woman” anthem. Other highlights are the ballads “Breathe” and the album-closing “Cover Up.” “Good Woman” reached number six on the adult R&B singles chart; the album didn’t do quite as well, debuting at 113 on the Billboard 200.

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James Durbin of American Idol Season 10Maps to the Hollywood Scars
“Volume One” EP

Released: Feb. 17, 2017
Finish: 4th, Season 10

James Durbin pleaded with Idol fans to give metal a chance, then abandoned metal for more of a pop rock sound on his sophomore album. Well, the metal is back on this project with Quiet Riot guitarist Alex Grossi. “Abomination” is probably the best of the five tracks. Within a month of the EP’s release, James had signed on as the new lead singer for the classic rock band.

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Josh Gracin of American Idol Season 2Josh Gracin
“Nothin’ Like Us” EP

Released: Feb. 17, 2017
Finish: 4th, Season 2

Even die-hard American Idol fans might forget that ex-Marine Josh came off Season 2 looking like a potential country superstar. Especially after his self-titled album yielded three Top 10 country hits. But it’s been six years between major projects and longer since Josh last cracked the country charts. His best shot on this six-song collection is the unbeat “Me, a Girl and a Radio” as in “out here in the country/don’t need nothin’/but me and a girl and a radio.”

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Jax of American Idol Season 14Jax
“Funny” EP

Released: Jan. 27, 2017
Finish: 3rd, Season 14

Post-Idol, Jax released the delightfully sarcastic single “La La Land” Her biting humor, and potential as a pop-rocker is even more evident on this six-song collection. Wow, don’t mess with Jax, guys. “I am going to completely destroy you,” she wails on “Wrong Girl.” That’s one of the best tracks, along with “Kickin’ & Screamin'” and “Sleep Like a Baby.” All of which confirms my long-held belief that Jax should have won Season 14.

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Lauren Alaina of American Idol Season 10Lauren Alaina
“Road Less Traveled”

Released: Jan. 27, 2017
Finish: 2nd, Season 10

Six years and one vocal surgery after her post-Idol debut, Lauren released this album with a song-writing credit on all 12 tracks. The title track, co-written by Meghan Trainor and released in 2016, became Lauren’s first number one country hit. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard country albums chart and includes seven previously unreleased songs. Tops among those: “Three” and “Think Outside the Boy.”

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Stefano  (Langone) of American Idol Season 10SteFano (Stefano Langone
“Obsession”

Released: Jan. 1, 2016
Finish: 7th, Season 10

Eight years after his run on American Idol, SteFano is back with his first major release, a five-track EP that straddles the line between pop and dance music. The title track is a sure keeper. So is closing track “Racin’,” featuring a rap assist from someone who I’m pretty sure isn’t SteFano.

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Danny Gokey has received his first Grammy nomination for his album RiseDanny Gokey
“Rise”

Released: Jan. 13, 2017
Finish: 3rd, Season 8

Danny’s second Christian album also became his second straight to debut at number one on Billboard’s Christian albums chart. More impressively, it’s been nominated for a Grammy for best contemporary Christina music album. Singles “Rise” and “Comeback” both became Top 15 Christian hits. But my favorite song on the album is the glorious “What Love Can Do.” The album also featured “Chasing,” a duet with Season 6 Idol champ Jordin Sparks.

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