The fifteenth and final season of American Idol will kick off next month. For all of the major success stories like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, some of the biggest winners from the show never even came in first place. Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert, Katherine McPhee, and Kellie Pickler are just a handful of the also-rans who went on to become top selling entertainers. History has show us the audience didn’t always pick the correct winner and American Idol’s demise kicked off in their 7th season when a disturbing trend of teenage girls consistently voting for the “guys with guitars” season after season. For five consecutive years, the winner was almost a cookie-cutter splitting image of the previous year. David Cook, Kris Allen, Lee Dewyze, Scotty McCreary, and Phillip Phillips won Seasons 7 thru 11. Lost in the shuffle were some incredibly talented seasons who didn’t take home the grand prize. Who was the most underrated American Idol runner-up off all-time?
My vote goes to Crystal Bowersox from Season 9. Crystal grew up singing for tips in the Chicago subway and making extra bucks competing on open mic nights. When she tried out for Idol, Crystal showed up with her signature long dreadlocks, piercings, and an unassuming shyness. When she ripped into Janis Joplin’s “Piece Of My Heart,” judge Shania Twain was blown away by her “raw, natural talent.” After making the live telecast, Crystal had a diabetic attack the first week and almost had to quit the competition when she was hospitalized so early in the competition. But the petite, small town ingenue made it all the way to the American Idol finals. With a series of inspirational songs including “People Get Ready”, “Up To The Mountain”, “Come To My Window”, and “Me And Bobby McGee”, Crystal gained momentum week after week. Simon proclaimed her the “one to beat.” But you can’t stop the power of the teenage girl voting block and the winner was the forgettable Lee DeWyze, who I’m sure is a nice guy but doesn’t compare to Bowersox’ bluesy, soulful, original voice that dug deep into your soul. Here’s a trio of Crystal’s greatest moments on American Idol.
“UP TO THE MOUNTAIN”
“GIVE ME ONE REASON”
“MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO GEORGIA”