American Idol finale: After 10 years, the beat goes on

May 23, 2011

While we won’t learn the name of the 10th American Idol winner until Wednesday, we already know the answers to many of this season’s big questions. Would the lack of Simon’s sneer cause ratings to tank? No! Viewership is as lofty as the accolades pouring from this season’s easy-to-please judges. Would voters choose yet another stubbly-but-lovable rocker boy and then ignore his albums? No! Either way, the winner will be a teenage country singer with no discernible facial hair. What we don’t know is whether he or she will be outshone by someone who was booted earlier in the competition, as has been the case in several previous Idol seasons.

Season

Average weekly Idol viewers by season

Series popularity rank for the year

Season 11

2.7 million

#21

Season 2

21.7 million

#2

Season 3

25.1 million

#2

Season 4

26.8 million

#1

Season 5

30.7 million

#1

Season 6

30.3 million

#1

Season 7

28.4 million

#1

Season 8

26.6 million

#1

Season 9

24.2 million

#1

Season 10 (so far)

25.2 million

#1

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In some previous Idol seasons, someone who was booted earlier in the competition has sold more albums than the winner. The numbers are of total album sales as of April.

Season 1

Winner

Kelly Clarkson: Thankful (2003)

2,747,000

Runner-up

Justin Guarini: Justin Guarnini (2003)

146,000

Season 2

Winner

Ruben Studdard: Soulful (2003)

1,791,000

Runner-up

Clay Aiken: Measure of a Man (2003)

2,785,000

Season 3

Winner

Fantasia Barrino: Free Yourself (2004)

1,821,000

Seventh

Jennifer Hudson: Jennifer Hudson (2008)

839,000

Season 4

Winner

Carrie Underwood: Some Hearts (2005)

7,098,000

Runner-up

Bo Bice: The Real Thing (2005)

673,000

Season 5

Winner

Taylor Hicks: Taylor Hicks (2006)

705,000

Fourth

Chris Daughtry: Daughtry (2006)

4,798,000

Season 6

Winner

Jordin Sparks: Jordin Sparks (2007)

1,045,000

Runner-up

Blake Lewis: Audio Day Dream (2007)

309,000

Season 7

Winner

David Cook: David Cook (2008)

1,321,000

Runner-up

David Archuleta: David Archuleta (2008)

765,000

Season 8

Winner:

Kris Allen: Kris Allen (2009)

327,000

Runner-up

Adam Lambert: For Your Entertainment (2009)

811,000

Season 9

Winner

Lee DeWyze: Live It Up (2010)

136,000

Runner-up

Crystal Bowersox: Farmer’s Daughter (2010)

184,000

Source: Nielsen SoundScan.

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