As the top 24 contestants on American Idol begin singing for their reality show lives tomorrow night (voting is now on you, viewers), USA Today is running a feature that outlines the professional backgrounds of a few finalists.
Perhaps in response to the timid album sales of Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis, American Idol has passed a quintet of supposed ringers on to the finals, those that have actually had a recording deal with a label in the past. But that's a negative in the eyes of many.
"The reason I watch is to see someone journey from nowhere to stardom," Kevin Kotke, a fan from Milwaukee, told the newspaper. "The only kind of record a contestant should be able to claim is the $5 self-published kind from the mall."
- Carly Smithson recorded for MCA, which lavished more than $2 million on her debut album, then dumped her when it sold poorly.
- Kristy Lee Cook signed with Britney Spears' production company in 2001.
- Michael Johns' band, The Rising, was dropped by Madonna's Maverick label.
- Robbie Carrico sang with Boyz-N-Girlz United, an Orlando boy/girl band.
- David Archuleta won $100,000 on Star Search in 2003.
While some fans are bothered by this sort of experience, American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe says the flap "is a storm in a teacupâ€¦ Let's just let the stories unfold."
He adds that show rules require only that contestants not be currently under contract: "We're looking for 'great,' and, yes, those people in all likelihood have had dealings with the industry before."
What do you think? Should American Idol contestant be wholly undiscovered?