Caleb Johnson Won 'American Idol' So When Can You Expect His Debut Album?
Things haven't been looking great for American Idol — ratings are down, new season episode orders are being cut in half, and last season's winner, Candice Glover, had the lowest debut album sales in the history of the franchise. Yikes. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and there's a tough new winner in town...and Idol winner Caleb Johnson is pretty damn marketable! Gospel singers like Glover may have flawless voices, but rock singers like Caleb sell albums. Having already debuted one original song during the audition process, and a shiny new single on the finale, the only thing left to do is release an album. And for the first time in a long time (or maybe ever... those early seasons are pretty ancient), we've already been promised a release date: August 12.
That's a quick turnaround. Less than three months, to be exact. Generally, Idol winners take about six months to turn their album around, and the release date isn't announced for at least a few months after their season finale airs. For example, Phillip Phillips — he of every uplifting movie's soundtrack in the summer of 2013 (and also, the Olympics) — wrapped up Season 11 in May 2012, announced his album's title and release date in October, and released The World From the Side of the Moon in late November, selling 169,000 copies in its first week. Even when you compare that to Carrie Underwood's 315,000 sales for her debut, Some Hearts, or goodness, Ruben Studdard's 417,000 for Soulful, those albums were released in 2005 and 2003 respectively; in this era of pirated files and Spotify, Phillip-squared had himself a bonafide hit. But he's a debut album success story.
American Idol's most recent champion, Season 12 winner, Candice Glover, suffered a harsher fate, partly in thanks to delayed and ambiguous release dates. Glover's debut album, Music Speaks, was originally slated for July 16, 2013, exactly two months after her win on the American Idol finale. The date was pushed to October 8 (although someone forgot to tell iTunes pre-order that), and finally, to it's true release date, February 18, 2014, where it sold 19,000 copied in its first week, and debuted at #14 on the Billboard 200 Chart, the second lowest chart debut for any winner, and the lowest in sales. That hardly seems fair to one of the best singers to set foot on the Idol stage.
Phillips' debut album versus Candice's can teach us a few things about a winner's debut, and hopefully give the Idol higher-ups a little guidance for Caleb's release. First, six months is long enough to remember that someone you once cared about is putting out an album; apparently, nine months is not. Glover was the first American Idol winner to ever not to release her debut album in the same calendar year. Probably more than the length of time though, the poor sales numbers were due in larger part to the indecision on the album's release date. That is slightly foreboding for Caleb's promised August 13 release. With only three months before the release, and two of those spent on the road on the American Idol Summer Tour, that doesn't leave much time to record an album, as was probably the reasoning for Candice Glover's first date push, who would have only had two months to record her album.
Working in Caleb's favor for a quick and — fingers crossed — successful release, however, is that he/she already has a definitive sound, a mind for songwriting, and a catchy single to tide people over for the next three months. Caleb's single isn't exactly "Home," but it certainly gives us something to look forward to come August 12 — hopefully.