Listening To Every ‘American Idol’ Winner For The First Time

American Idol, the Grande Dame of singing competitions in these United States, is has called it a day after its 15th season. Some people have been watching it from the beginning, some watched for a while, and based on the ratings, some folks definitely stopped watching it. There are also those who never watched the show. This is where I raise my hand.

As the person who also writes a series of articles predicated on his lack of knowledge with regard to modern pop music, it should come as no surprise that I have little to no familiarity with the competition-winning musicians whose careers have been launched by the show, either. Shameful? Perhaps, but it’s something that I’m willing to rectify for you (and also the money I’ll get paid for writing this).

I decided to listen to one big hit from every single winner of American Idol. I gave them all a fair shake, and now I do my best to regale you with this outside opinion. I will admit that one song does not make a sufficient sample size in terms of assessing these musicians and the true quality of them as artists, but this is not the place where Ruben Studdard’s deep cuts are assessed.

Kelly Clarkson – “Since U Been Gone”

Clarkson won the first American Idol. She was in that movie with the guy who came in second. I feel like naming the film and the guy would be too mean.

“Since U Been Gone” is a good song. I mean, that chorus is dope. You already probably knew that, but I just found out. The rest of it is also fine. It’s a nice, modest girl power song. I mean, it’s not Le Tigre’s “They Want Us to Make a Symphony Out of the Sound of Women Swallowing Their Own Tongues,” but it’s something strong and I’m all for that. It’s a little simplistic, but it’s also pop music, so that’s fair. I kind of want to listen to more Clarkson songs based on “Since U Been Gone.” Is the rest of her oeuvre like this? Because, if so, I’m in.

Ruben Studdard – “Sorry 2004”

With one song in the bank, I turn to Studdard. I was aware he had won American Idol, and that he beat Clay Aiken. This was all I knew about him. I don’t think he got a movie like Clarkson. I would have liked to see Studdard and Aiken starring in a movie. Maybe a remake of Midnight Run? Simon Cowell could have stepped in for Dennis Farina.

The song of choice for Studdard was “Sorry 2004,” a song wherein, I assumed, Studdard apologized to the year 2004. What Studdard did to the year 2004, I do not know. I also do not know if 2004 forgave him. It’s hard to get a hold of the year 2004. Last I heard, it had disappeared into the ether because time marches ever forward.

Whoever or whatever Studdard is apologizing to, he’s being kind of dull whilst doing in. I mean, “Sorry 2004” isn’t a bad song. Studdard’s voice is good, but it’s a fairly bland R&B type song.

Fantasia Barrino – “When I See U”