Top 10 ‘American Idol’ Country Singers
‘American Idol‘ has become a very important showcase for country music. Since Carrie Underwood shot to superstardom after winning the show’s fourth season, the reality singing competition has become more and more involved in finding some of the best young country singers in the world.
The show has helped to discover a virtual Who’s Who of contemporary country, including Kellie Pickler, Scotty McCreery, and most recently, Kree Harrison. And with country’s own Keith Urban back in his judge’s chair for the upcoming Season 13, it seems likely that ‘Idol’ could discover even more promising country singers in the future.
Our list of the Top 10 ‘American Idol’ Country Singers features a mix of established stars and younger artists, to cull the best of the best from every season.
Josh Gracin was the first country star discovered on 'American Idol.' The former Marine placed fourth on the show's second season, and after his discharge he signed to Lyric Street Records in 2004. His self-titled debut album produced three Top 10 singles, one of which, 'Nothing to Lose,' reached No. 1. He has since parted ways with Lyric Street and signed to Average Joes.
Danny Gokey placed third in the eighth season of 'American Idol.' The former church worship director auditioned for he show just weeks after the death of his first wife, Sophia, and stayed in it until the finals. After the show he released an album, 'My Best Days,' and scored a hit single with 'My Best Days Are Ahead of Me.' He subsequently split with Sony. Re-married and with a young son, Gokey now splits his time between his family, his Sophia's Heart charity and recording his sophomore album.
Casey James was already somewhat of a veteran when he came to 'Idol,' which showed in his seasoned live performances. The singer and guitarist quickly became a fan favorite, placing third on the show's ninth season. He then signed with Sony, and in 2012 he released his self-titled debut album. He has released three singles, including 'Crying on a Suitcase,' and he opened for Sugarland on their The Incredible Machine Tour, and for Taylor Swift on her Red Tour.
Bucky Covington competed on the fifth season of 'American Idol.' The singer ultimately placed eighth, and signed with Lyric Street Records. His self-titled 2007 debut album reached No. 1, and scored three Top 10 singles, including 'A Different World.' Covington was left in limbo for several years after Lyric Street closed. In 2012 he finally released his second studio album, 'Good Guys,' via E1 Music.
Kree Harrison is the most recent addition to the list of country stars who've graduated 'American Idol.' The Nashville veteran had a publishing deal and a record deal before she was ever on the show, but neither quite panned out. She dominated the stage from the first time she performed on the show's Season 12, placing second. She has since released her debut single, performed onstage with Wynonna, and debuted on the Grand Ole Opry (with Keith Urban). She is currently at work on her debut album.
Kelly Clarkson was the very first winner of 'American Idol,' way back in its first season in 2002. She has since become an international superstar. Although her success has been primarily rooted in pop, Clarkson has released a duet with Reba McEntire, and she's also recorded with Vince Gill, qualifying her for a spot on this list. She has recently hinted that she may be making a more serious foray into country; she has been recording with Reba and Trisha Yearwood for an upcoming project.
Lauren Alaina is the youngest person on our list of the Top 10 'American Idol' Country Singers. She placed as the runner-up on Season 10 in 2011, and subsequently released an album titled 'Wildflower.' While she has yet to score a breakout hit single, the album did reach No. 5 in the country charts, and Alaina opened for both Jason Aldean and Sugarland. In May she released 'Barefoot and Buckwild,' the first single from her upcoming second album.
Few performers inspire such intense loyalty as Scotty McCreery. From the moment he appeared on Season 10 of 'American Idol,' he dominated the competition with his mix of vocal ability and humble charm. After winning the show, he released his debut album, 'Clear as Day,' in 2011. It placed several hits and was certified Platinum. He released a Christmas album in 2012 that went Gold. His sophomore studio effort, 'See You Tonight,' is one of the most-anticipated albums of 2013.
Kellie Pickler is one of the most beloved performers in 'Idol' history. Competing on Season 5, she rode her combination of a winning personality and strong voice to finish in sixth place, then released two albums that scored her a string of melodic country hits. Pickler's third album, '100 Proof,' was critically hailed as a true traditional country record, but produced no hits, and she parted with her record label. She has since signed with Black River Entertainment. Fresh off a winning season on 'Dancing With the Stars,' Pickler is poised to stage a major musical comeback with her upcoming album.
Carrie Underwood is by far the biggest country star to arise from 'American Idol.' Since winning the show's fourth season, she has gone on to become the best-selling 'Idol' star across all genres, and one of the biggest superstars in the country genre. Her most recent album, 'Blown Away,' marked her fourth multi-Platinum effort in a row, and she has placed a dozen No. 1 hits to date. That's more than enough to boost Underwood to the top of our list of the Top 10 'American Idol' Country Singers.