‘American Idol’s’ decade of hits and myths
We won’t learn whether odds-on-fave Scotty McCreery or sweet underdog Lauren Alaina will be crowned the 10th "American Idol" winner until Wednesday. But we presume record mogul-cum-"Idol"-in-house mentor Jimmy Iovine, who will put out the winner’s first album, is already celebrating. Both of the finalists are solidly in the country-music wheelhouse, and the last country crooner to win, Carrie Underwood, holds the record for biggest debut album sales at 7 million, according to Nielsen SoundScan. — Lisa de Moraes
Average weekly 'Idol' viewers by season
The debut albums of these
four finalists outsold
million viewers before the finale
Debut album: Thankful
The first Idol’s career went according to script: "Thankful" went double-platinum, and Clarkson has since won two Grammys.
Debut album: Justin Guarini
Guarini parlayed "Idol" into a gig on TV Guide Network, where he co-hosts shows about "Idol" and reality TV.
Debut album: Soulful
The "velvet teddy bear," who sings soul, gospel and R&B, was the first and last male winner who didn’t rock.
Debut album: Measure of a Man
Aiken has released five more albums, sung on Broadway ("Spamalot") and written a best-selling memoir.
Debut album: Free Yourself
Won her first Grammy this year for best female R&B vocal performance and stars on Broadway in "The Color Purple."
Debut album: Jennifer Hudson
Most talented Idolette? Once Oscar-winner Hudson finally released an album (in 2008), she won a Grammy.
"Hearts" has sold more than 7 million copies. Underwood has five Grammys and is a fixture on country radio.
Debut album: The Real Thing
The southern rocker did a Beatles tribute tour (go figure) in 2008 and a third album in 2010.
Debut album: Taylor Hicks
Say what you will, Hicks makes a living with his voice, first touring in "Grease," now performing his own songs.
Debut album: Daughtry
If it’s true that this was the deepest talent pool of any "Idol" season, then Daughtry was its Michael Phelps.
"Sparks" the album
went platinum, and
Sparks the singer took
the Idolette train to
Broadway ("In the Heights").
Debut album: Audio Day Dream
Too quirky to win, Lewis beatboxed his way to a
second album in 2009.
Debut album: David Cook
Cook was the first of a series of scruffy bad(ish)-boy rockers with guitars, beloved by voters who don’t buy their music.
Debut album: David Archuleta
The 16-year-old guitar-free Mormon Boy Scout was the exact opposite of a scruffy bad(ish)-boy rocker.
Debut album: Kris Allen
"This is crazy," he said when he won. Yep. "Allen" the album was the first winner’s debut that hasn’t hit gold status.
Debut album: For Your Entertainment
The upset loss only boosted the career of the boundary-pushing performer who expanded the market for eyeliner.
Debut album: Live It Up
like a nice guy,
but we mostly
remember General Larry Platt’s "Pants on the Ground."
Debut album: Farmer’s Daughter
The rural, diabetic single mom with a fabulous voice and no-crap demeanor was, sadly, not a rocker boy.
The season 10 winner will be announced Wednesday, May 25.
Sweet 16-year-old beat out older, edgier crooners, growlers and wailers.
Deep-voiced throwback McCreery absolutely killed on Johnny Cash night.
*Most sales occur within the first year of release. SOURCES: Nielsen SoundScan, FOX, individual performers’ web sites. NOTE: Average viewers for seasons 1-4 are for the live broadcast only; later numbers include viewers who watched on DVR within seven days of the broadcast. PHOTOS: Wires. GRAPHIC: Bonnie Berkowitz, Bill Webster and Kat Downs - The Washington Post. Published May 24, 2011.