Is Lee DeWyze The Worst Idol Winner Ever?

Perhaps Lee DeWyze should’ve picked a different title for his debut album instead of “Live It Up“. That title certainly don’t describe his first week sales of his debut album. His first post-Idol CD not only debuted at No. 19 on the Billboard 200, but it only moved 39,000 units. That number represents the worst figure ever for an Idol winner debut. In fact, it’s even lower than any of the runner-ups as well. Diana DeGarmo previously held that record with 47,000 records.

Some might argue that the recording industry has changed since DeGarmo competed. In other words, people don’t buy full records like they used to. That may be true, but last year’s winner, Kris Allen, sold 80,000 while runner-up, Adam Lambert, moved almost 200,000. While I liked DeWyze, I didn’t feel he was the rightful winner from Season 9. Just like Allen, they were the token guitar-playing cute guys who won the hearts of the tween girls across the US. Both Lambert and Bowersox were robbed. In the end, record sales is the sweetest revenge and Glambert certainly proved that. I hope Crystal Bowersox can do the same when her debut, “Farmer’s Daughter” hits December 14th.


Check out how each season’s winner and runner-ups fared during their first week out. Even though DeWyze’s record didn’t jump out the gates, he can hope for a tortoise and the hare story arc. Jordin Sparks didn’t exactly blow everyone out of the water, but she managed to release several hit singles from the album that help propel her album to platinum status.

Season 1
No. 1, Kelly Clarkson, Thankful (297,000)
No. 20, Justin Guarini, Justin Guarini (57,000)

Season 2
No. 1, Ruben Studdard, Soulful (417,000)
No. 1, Clay Aiken, Measure of a Man (613,000)

Season 3
No. 8, Fantasia, Free Yourself (240,000)
No. 52, Diana DeGarmo, Blue Skies (47,000)

Season 4
No. 2, Carrie Underwood, “Some Hearts” (315,000)
No. 4, Bo Bice, “The Real Thing” (227,000)

Season 5
No. 2, Taylor Hicks, Taylor Hicks (298,000)
No. 2, Katharine McPhee, Katharine McPhee (116,000)

Season 6
No. 10, Jordin Sparks, Jordin Sparks (119,000)
No. 10, Blake Lewis, Audio Day Dream (98,000)

Season 7
No. 3, David Cook, David Cook (280,000)
No. 2, David Archuleta, David Archuleta (183,000)

Season 8
No. 11, Kris Allen, Kris Allen (80,000)
No. 3, Adam Lambert, For Your Entertainment (198,000)

While first week sales are important, it’s how you finish the race and not how you start it. Just look at the following statistics rankings the Top 10 debut album total sales from Idol winners and runner-ups. It’s worth nothing that 4th place finisher, Chris Daughtry sold 4,575,000 in his first post-Idol effort. Jennifer Hudson who finished 7th sold over 750,000 copies of her “Spotlight” CD, and would’ve made this Top 10 list as well, had it included all former Idol contestants.

  • 1. 6,876,000, Carrie Underwood, “Some Hearts”
  • 2. 2,784,000, Clay Aiken, “Measure of a Man”
  • 3. 2,732,000, Kelly Clarkson, “Thankful”
  • 4. 1,793,000, Fantasia, “Free Yourself”
  • 5. 1,791,000, Ruben Studdard, “Soulful”
  • 6. 1,257,000, David Cook, “David Cook”
  • 7. 1,028,000, Jordin Sparks, “Jordin Sparks”
  • 8. 758,000 Adam Lambert, “For Your Entertainment”
  • 9. 740,000, David Archuleta, “David Archuleta”
  • 10. 704,000, Taylor Hicks, “Taylor Hicks”

Are you surprised by any of these stats? Do you think Season 10’s winner will reverse the trend? Will American Idol bounce back after three lackluster years. Hopefully the voting public will crown a winner different from the past three winners. A little diversity will do that show good. Traditionally female winners have done well for the show, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that another diva joins the ranks of Kelly, Fantasia, Carrie and Jordin this year.

  • Hahaha i just love the title of this article 😛

  • beverly

    Love your article !!!!!! She was robbed and adam too. I know everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I’m telling everyone her album is awesome. One of the best, I’ve ever heard . I truly believe this album could go country. I not a big fan of country music , but if she ends up there I guess, I’m going to learn to like it. Come on jive do your job and make this girl a superstar, it’s time for the music industry to have someone new and different. I’m glad she beat Lee’s sales!!!