For some folks, American Idol is a jaunty little TV show that provides a fine distraction every Wednesday and Thursday night from January to May. For others, it’s a 365-day-a-year obsession that’s yielded dozens of album downloads and a terrifying number of iTunes spins that we would rather not begin to count. Since I fall into the latter category, I’m not ashamed to admit that I spend an inordinate amount of time pondering the post-Idol careers of my favorite former contestants — seriously, folks, it’s time you checked out Aloha Misho’s Badd EP on iTunes, as well as Jordin Sparks’ latest single “I Am Woman” — and that certainly applies to the ladies and gentlemen of Season 10.
Which brings me to just about the happiest words I’ve heard since I got my husband to utter a wedding vow in which he agreed to watch a steady diet of bad reality TV till death do us part: Season 10’s third-place finisher (and Idoloonies champ) Haley Reinhart has signed a deal with Interscope Records, joining winner Scotty McCreery, runner-up Lauren Alaina, and ninth-place finisher Pia Toscano as the latest show alumni to score major-label deals. Anyone who followed even a smidgeon of my Season 10 Idol coverage knows my love of Haley, from her breakout moment on “Bennie and the Jets” to her moved-me-to-tears take on “You and I” to her devastating, bluesy cover of “House of the Rising Sun.” And while Haley could pretty much record a Captain and Tennille tribute album and I’d be the first to pre-order it, her Idoloonies exit interview back in June (embedded below) — in which the old-soul 21-year-old outlines blues and rock influences as diverse as Art Blakey to Led Zeppelin — convinced me I won’t be disappointed when she finally gets around to releasing her debut record.
But what about the rest of her Idol contemporaries? I’ve already downloaded Pia Toscano’s reasonably good lead single, “This Time,” and while I’m hoping the rest of her CD contains slightly more distinctive material, I’d be lying if I said I won’t automatically pick up her album based entirely on my general adoration of her vocals and a sense of Idol loyalty that’ll be hard to break. And I’m also inclined to check out any future music from Paul McDonald, since his pre-Idol album with the Grand Magnolias is in regular rotation on my iPod. And since I’m already halfway down the rabbit hole, I might as well admit I’m also going to keep a close ear on the post-Idol output of Kendra Chantelle, Lauren Turner, Naima Adedapo, and maybe even Casey Abrams — as long as he doesn’t indulge too deeply in his Jack Black wannabe tendencies. I’m probably less excited to hear the debut releases from the Season 10 Top 2, Scotty and Lauren, mostly because I don’t really listen to a lot of current country records, but hey…if either one of ’em collaborates with Wynonna or Reba or Willie or Dolly — I know, I know…never gonna happen — they might just be able to extract $15 from my wallet.
What about you, Idoloonies? Which Season 10 Idols are you looking forward to downloading in the next couple years? A smooth R&B disc from Stefano Langone? (Hrmm.) A metal revival record from James Durbin? (I might go for that, actually.) Some saucy dance remixes from Ashthon Jones? (Uff da. You know I’d buy that, too.) Sound off below, and for all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!