In hindsight, 2012 wound up being an awfully good year for new music from former Idols.
We received new albums or EPs from no fewer than 11 Idol winners or runners-up.
We received a first-ever greatest hits album from a former Idol, Kelly Clarkson.
You have to figure Carrie Underwood can’t be far behind.
Now, those top albums …
1. Adam Lambert: “Trespassing”
The Season 8 runner-up snags your attention with the hand-clap intro to the excellent title track, and the dance party doesn’t end until seven songs in. Once it does, Adam dazzles with ballads like “Underneath” and “Outlaws in Love,” proving once again that he’s one of the best male singers to have stepped on the Idol stage. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, but wasn’t as much of a sales success as its predecessor, “For Your Entertainment.”
2. Carrie Underwood: “Blown Away”
The Season Four winner kicks off her fourth album with three songs you knew would be hits the first time you heard them. I’m talking about “Good Girl,” “Blown Away” and “Two Black Cadillacs.” She can’t keep up that pace, of course, but “Good in Goodbye,” “Leave Love Alone” and the fun “Cupid’s Got a Shotgun” help enliven the album’s second half. The album spent two weeks atop the Billboard 200 and was the seventh best selling album of 2012, according to Billboard, with more than 1.2 million copies purchased. And it’s still number 22 on the Billboard 200, 35 weeks after its release.
“Leave Love Alone”
3. Granville Automatic, “Granville Automatic”
Easily my favorite Idol discovery of 2012, not to mention the album I’ve listened to the most. Granville Automatic consists of Vanessa Olivarez (12th place, Season 2 of Idol) and friend Elizabeth Elkins. They write and sing songs about history — the Civil War, an old circus, prohibition, a town sacrificed for the sake of progress — all country-folk style. Vanessa sounds fabulous. Absolutely everything works. They’re now working on a new album of Civil War inspired tunes. I can’t wait to hear it.
“Shores of Maryland”
4. Casey Abrams, “Casey Abrams”
His musicianship was praised time and again during Season 10 of Idol. But could Casey turn that into an entertaining post Idol album? Mission accomplished in a mellow, just-having-fun sorta way. Check out “Get Out,” “Blame It On Me,” “Midnight Girl” and “Stuck in London.” Guaranteed, some of these tunes will get stuck in your head. My biggest complaint is that the album ends too soon at just 11 tracks. It spent just one week on the Billboard 200, so lots of you might have missed it. Shame. You’re missing out.
“Stuck in London”
5. Haley Reinhart, “Listen Up”
Gotta confess, I cringed when I heard “Free,” the first single from this album, thinking, “Haley, you can do so much better.” Then the album came out and, sure enough, she had, pretty much on every other track. Her sultry vocals are particularly effective on “Undone,” “Keep Coming Back,” and “Hit the Ground Runnin’.” And the album’s deluxe version is one of the year’s most worth having thanks to “Spiderweb” and “Follow Me.” Unfortunately, not enough people listened, and Haley’s no longer with her record label. I’ll hold out hope that a sophomore CD — with a more worthy first single — isn’t too far off.
“Keep Coming Back”