Idols Gone Country-2011 Year End Edition!

It’s another edition of Idols Gone Country, featuring a look back at what our Idols in the country market were up to in 2011 AND a look ahead to what they’ve got in store for us in 2012! Featuring Lauren Alaina, Bo Bice, Crystal Bowersox, Kristy Lee Cook, Bucky Covington, Danny Gokey, Josh Gracin, Casey James, Aaron Kelly, Scotty McCreery, Kellie Pickler, and Carrie Underwood!

Lauren Alaina parlayed her runner up Idol status into a record deal with Mercury Nashville/Interscope/19, performed at the Grand Ole Opry twice (making her debut during CMA Fest), performed at LP Field during CMA Fest with Martina McBride (TV cap here), fought through an a 3rd degree ankle sprain and voice issues to complete the AI tour, saw her debut single “Like My Mother Does” (previously recording & released by Idol Kristy Lee Cook among others) peak at #36 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, released her debut album Wildflower on October 11th with 1st week sales of 69k, released 2nd single “Georgia Peaches” to country radio (where it has made the top 40), recovered from a national anthem flub with maturity, and sang at The White House for the President and First Lady. Wildflower has sold 214k copies to date and landed on Billboard’s The 615 blog’s list of country’s top 10 albums of 2011 and helped Lauren make Chris Willman’s list of 2011’s top new artists on Yahoo!’s As Heard On blog.

Up in 2012: The video for Lauren’s 2nd single “Georgia Peaches” will be released on January 6, 2012. Lauren hits the road with Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan for the My Kinda Party tour from January 20, 2012 through March 23, 2012.

Bo Bice made multiple appearances at the Grand Ole Opry including 1 in which the Oak Ridge Boys invited him on stage to perform their hit “Elvira”. He signed a publishing deal with RPM Music Group, wrote songs and started tracking them for his next album with producer Blake Chancey. Bo also announced that he and wife Caroline are expecting their 4th child, recently revealed that they are expecting a girl! Bo also made a guest appearance on Kristy Lee Cook’s hunting show Goin’ Country. It also appears Bo got himself a radical haircut (credit foxydonna for finding), check out this picture with Melinda Doolittle:

And check out this hour-plus long chat the always charming and frank Bo did with his fans, where he talks about meeting Scotty McCreery, performs a bunch of songs, brags a little on his kids (in a cute, fatherly way), and answers fan questions.

http://justin.tv/bobice/b/299680349

Up in 2012: Bo is planning to release a new album, and he is also scheduled to perform at the Grand Ole Opry on 1/7/2012. Check out live performances of 4 songs he has confirmed that he has recorded for a new album (video via sjwBO):
“Better Man” (written by Bo, Peter Sallis, Victoria Shaw):

“Why Can’t I”:

“Everything” (written by Jim Beavers, Chris Hennessee):

“Summertime” (written by Matt Jenkins, Justin Lantz, and Matt Ramsey):

Crystal Bowersox made some appearances on the country scene after “Farmer’s Daughter” got some positive press from a few country writers. She made her Opry debut in early March, performed on the Riverfront stage at CMA Fest, returned to the Opry to debut a couple more country tinged new tunes, covered the Patsy Cline classic “Crazy” , with Jive Records, and debuted another country infleunced new song at a Nashville gig.

Up in 2012: Although Crystal’s planned move to Nashville didn’t materialize (she’s moved to Portland instead), Crystal will release an EP through her official website, and keep an eye out for a free download there too.

Kristy Lee Cook has been writing for and recording her new album (check out possible titles & new songs here, here, here, here, and here. A few more cowrites have surfaced: “Hand Me Down Jeans” which she cowrote with David Gibson and Lonestar’s Dean Sams and “Party Like A Rockstar” which she cowrote with David Fanning & Billy Montana (the same 2 guys she cowrote “Couldn’t Care Less” with). There’s also
“One Hell Of A Ride” which she cowrote with Jon Mabe and Westin Davis, and “Two Horse Town” that she cowrote with Clint Lagerberg (who cowrote Rascal Flatts’s “Here Comes Goodbye” with Chris Sligh) and Heather Morgan.

Up in 2012: The 2nd season of Goin’ Country airs on Versus. Check out a new promo here. Kristy Lee releases a new single, and hopefully releases an album. Rich Redmond of New Voice Entertainment, which is producing Kristy Lee’s album commented:

We’re in the studio now with Kristy Lee Cook. We’ve found some really unique songs for her. We’re going to launch her next year.

Bucky Covington continued his “Hometown” tour (check out live video, new song previews here, here, and here), fought off bogus theft allegations from a concert promoter who had failed to pay him for a gig, officially announced his new deal with independent label eOne Nashville home after paperwork with the now-defunct Lyric Street Records was worked out to enable the transfer of some of the masters Bucky created while signed with them. Bucky also sent his new single “I Wanna Be That Feeling” to country radio and shot a video for it. Bucky recently tweeted behind the scenes footage of the video shoot, featuring Bucky leaning up against a car singing along to a sped up version of the song for video effect:

Bucky also recently tweeted the featured picture with the following comment:

In studio yesterday recording with a very special guest – guess who? #IWannaBeThatFeeling

Bucky is joined in the picture by Shooter Jennings. He has recorded the Logan Mize song “Boys From Back Home” though it is not known whether the song will make the final cut. Check out writer Logan Mize’s video for the song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XvpaW_aVTTo

Up in 2012: “I Wanna Be That Feeling” goes for adds, the video is released, and eventually, Bucky’s sophomore album is expected to finally be released.

Danny Gokey performed in the FOX TV movie Truth Be Told, and released a new single “Second Hand Heart” to country radio. It peaked at #48 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and was released to digital outlets like Itunes and Amazon. He also opened for superstar Taylor Swift on 10 dates of her Speak Now tour. Danny parted ways with RCA Nashville in late summer. But he shared happy news at the end of 2011 when he announced his engagement to Leyicet Peralta.

Up in 2012: Danny will perform at the Grand Ole Opry on 1/6/12. His wedding to Leyicet Peralta is scheduled for late January. Danny will take part in the 2nd Annual Sophia’s Heart Cruise from February 2-6 2012 benefiting Sophia’s Heart Foundation and also featuring fellow Idol Matt Giraud. Danny’s eyewear line is scheduled to launch in March 2012. He also discussed expanding his music beyond country in an interview with the faith-based Speak Music radio (the interview starts after live performance footage, at the 6:19 mark):

Josh Gracin did a radio and media tour as part of advance promotion for his 3rd album (check out media here and here), released a video honoring the memory of a fallen soldier through his original song “Can’t Say Goodbye”, and released the pop/soul song “Long Way To Go” to AC radio which peaked at #16 there. Josh released his 3rd studio album Redemption on November 8th. It debuted at #39 on the Billboard Country Albums chart selling around 3k copies.

Up in 2012: Josh currently has tour dates scheduled in support of his album including a 1/13 gig at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, Texas.

Casey James started rolling out his new music about 10 months after his AI season ended, debuting “Drive” at the Country Radio Seminar and rolling out other songs while on the road with Sugarland and doing other advance promo gigs. He connected so well with Sugarland’s Kristian Bush that they’d cowrite at least a couple songs (including “Hold On” and “You Need Some Texas”). Casey played the Riverfront stage and an acoustic set at LP Field during CMA Fest and debuted more new music at a hometown performance at Billy Bob’s before finally releasing his debut single “Let’s Don’t Call It A Night” to country radio. Casey continued debuting new music for an album that’s now due in Q1 2012 depending on how his lead single does in 2012. LDCIAN is 19 weeks old and has reached #32 Billboard/#33 Mediabase on the slow moving country charts.

Up in 2012: Casey continues to promote lead single “Let’s Don’t Call It A Night,” and his album is expected to finally released. Publishing company Tom Lei’s Music recently tweeted that Casey has cut a song cowritten by Brandon Kinney (who cowrote the Randy Houser hit “Boots On”):

This month, TLM songwriter Brandon Kinney has nailed down two Kix Brooks cuts and one Casey James cut!! More to come! Go Brandon Go!!!!

Meanwhile, a new Casey cowrite popped up that sees him cowriting with Aimee Mayo and Chris Lindsey, with whom he had already teamed for at least 3 other known cowrites (none of which he has debuted live). The title of the track is “Whiskey Voodoo”. Casey has confirmed cutting 14 songs for the new album including 2 songs he did not cowrite. The tracklist is still TBD.

Aaron Kelly spent 2011 writing in Nashville (check out some of the writers he’s collaborated with here, here, and here) and he started rolling out his new tunes live (video here and here).

Up in 2012: Aaron has started working with Forte Music Group on the PR and touring side, and they tease:

Some VERY exiting things coming soon from @aaronkellyai09, but we can’t tell you yet… It’s a secret! ;-) Shhhh….

Meanwhile Aaron continues to showcase his music live, record new tunes, and schedule live dates for 2012.

Scotty McCreery cruised to the American Idol title but didn’t stop there. His coronation single “I Love You This Big” defied all reasonable expectations, setting a record for the highest debut for a debut single on the Billboard/R&R Hot Country Songs chart by a new artist when it arrived at #32, eventually peaking at #15 there, and selling 718k downloads to date. Scotty made his debut at LP Field during CMA Fest by joining Josh Turner there, performed at the Opry twice (including his debut during CMA Fest), released his 2nd single “The Trouble With Girls” in early September, overcame a mic malfunction with his typical poise when he sang the national anthem at the World Series, performed a short version of “Walk In The Country” at the CMA Awards, and proved you don’t win AI by lip-synching when he missed a cue at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Scotty also won the fan-voted American Country Award for Favorite New Artist and performed “The Trouble With Girls” on the show. He also honored his commitment to continue attending high school.

Scotty released his debut album Clear As Day on October 4th, and it debuted at at #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart with 197k in 1st week sales, making Scotty the youngest male to ever debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 and the 1st country act to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 with their debut album. Since debuting Clear As Day has been a mainstay in the top 15 of the Billboard 200, also logging 6 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart and selling 833k copies to date. Platinum album sales are all but assured, it’s just a question of when. Meanwhile “The Trouble With Girls” is up to #24 Billboard/#25 Mediabase country and has sold 308k copies to date.

Up in 2012: Scotty hits the road with Brad Paisley and The Band Perry on the soon to be renamed Camobunga tour (dates here).

Kellie Pickler eloped with her now-husband Kyle Jacobs, got a surprise visit from her favorite actor Clint Eastwood thanks to Ellen Degeneres, released “Tough” as the lead single to her 3rd album, saw “Tough” peak at #28, made her acting debut on 90210, covered “Rockin Around The Christmas Tree” as a new Christmas single, dueted with Michael Buble on his Christmas special, and released the title track of her upcoming album 100 Proof to radio. Kellie recently appeared on HGTV’s Celebrity Motor Homes. Check out a short teaser clip here:

Up in 2012: Kellie releases her 3rd album 100 Proof on January 24th with promo appearances including a return to the Ellen Degeneres show at the end of January. She also revealed during a recent Twitter chat that her team is scheduling 2012 tour dates now. We’ve heard 7 out of the 11 tracks on the album! Check out the 100 Proof tracklist here with links to live performances of 4 songs (not including “Tough”), the studio version of “100 Proof” here, and an acoustic version of Unlock That Honky Tonk.

Carrie Underwood began 2011 with a Golden Globe nomination for cowriting “There’s A Place For Us” for The Chronicles Of Narnia: Voyage Of The Dawn Treader with Hillary Lindsey and David Hodges. In February her husband Mike Fisher got traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Nashville Predators, and some cray cray sports fans blamed Carrie. In April she went viral with 2 collaborative performances, an “Undo It”/”Walk This Way” medley with Steven Tyler and “How Great Thou Art” with Vince Gill (which now has over 10.8 million views on Youtube and made Billboard’s The 615 blog and Yahoo’s Our Country blog lists for country music’s top moments of 2011). Carrie did the promotional rounds supporting her debut movie role in the faith-based Soul Surfer which exceeded expectations at the box office, embarked on her first promo tour in Australia, wrote and recorded her 4th album, and promoted and cohosted the CMA Awards for the 4th year in a row. Oh yeah, and she recorded & released duets with Brad Paisley (the #1 country hit and 1.278 million download selling “Remind Me”), Randy Travis (a cover of his hit “Is It Still Over”), and Tony Bennett (a cover of the standard “It Had To Be You”).

A bunch of new Carrie Underwood cowrites have surfaced recently (credit @Typ021 for finding all of them). She cowrote “I Am A Memory” and “We All Fall Down” with Hillary Lindsey and Troy Verges and “Gone Too Soon” with Hillary Lindsey and Steve McEwan. There’s also “Alabama Who” which Carrie cowrote with Kelley Lovelace and Bobby Hamrick, “Southern Charm” which Carrie cowrote with Steve McEwan and Hillary Lindsey, “Hear A Heartbreak” which Carrie cowrote with Cary Barlowe and Hillary Lindsey, “Pay The Rent” which Carrie cowrote with frequent collaborators Luke Laird and Hillary Lindsey, and “Good For Me”, “Longer Summer”, “I Need Something Strong”, and “Lucky You” all 4 of which Carrie cowrote with Caitlyn Smith and Troy Verges.

Country songwriter Ashley Gorley’s bio has been updated to reflect that he has:

Recent cuts by Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Lauren Alaina, Jana Kramer

Carrie is listed as a performer for an Ashley Gorley/Mike Elizondo/Luke Laird cowrite called “Party Girl” and he also cowrote “Amazing Faith” and “That Girl” with Carrie and Luke Laird, as well as “Good Girl” which with frequent Idol collaborator Chris DeStefano and Carrie and “Riverbank Song” with Kelley Lovelace and Carrie.

Up in 2012: A new single, new album, and tour, everything TBA but Carrie has confirmed that the lead single choice has been narrowed down to 2 choices and that she’s done recording all lead vocals on her album.

Thanks to everybody who reads and comments on these things. Special thanks to Mike M who made the great suggestion to do a year end round up for this column. Happy New Year to all!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SYFK77IYLRQIVATQ2MJKSW2J7Y Pam

    Wow windmills, this is a great read.  It’s hard to believe all of this happened this year.  The year has really flown by quickly!

    Thanks for the awesome writeup!  :)

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic roundup, windmills. Thanks for all the hardwork you do keeping us up-to-date with all things country.  A couple of random reactions and conclusions:

    1) I didn’t even recognize Bo – but hell, it’s time to change the look, isn’t it? He looks like a country songwriter not a rocker now. Which fits the current career trajectory, right?

    2) Danny is definitely going gospel. That interview was a pitch to the industry if I ever heard one. And who is “we”? Does he have a mouse in his pocket? (gentle teasing)

    3) I flove Kellie’s “Unlock that Honky Tonk”

    4) I can’t believe it’s been… what? Three years since we’ve had new Carrie music? Wow. Can’t wait.

    5) Go! Go! Go special snowflake! ;-)

  • BonnieDee

    1.  Wow, I love Idols Gone Country.  Thanks.  

    2.  Bo looks fantastic.  Four kids?  Wow!  

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this, I love these!

    I remember back in Season 9 thinking that Aaron Kelly would become a teen male country sensation. Then Scotty came around!

  • ronnie

    So much stuff happening for them,happy for all of them.

  • Anonymous

    Bo looks great!   

  • larc

    Those are great commentaries, windmills.  Many thanks for all the time you put into them.  Lots of exciting things during the past year and many more coming up.

    S10fan:
    I remember back in Season 9 thinking that Aaron Kelly would become a teen male country sensation. Then Scotty came around!

    I’m thinking Aaron may still have his day.  He’s a very talented kid.

  • steph6449

    2) Danny is definitely going gospel. That interview was a pitch to the industry if I ever heard one. And who is “we”? Does he have a mouse in his pocket? (gentle teasing)

    To keep that in context, the person Danny was speaking to was a personal friend who operates a Christian music blog that is trying to build followers. From any appearances, Danny gave her that interview as a favor to a friend in conjunction with a performance at a Christmas event with Jamar Rogers in Milwaukee. Most of his references to gospel are about where he got his start, and that he still loves that type of music, which he does — albeit not to the exclusion of other genres.

    While Danny has his share of friends and interests in the Christian music world, I think it is unlikely based on any recent indicators that Danny’s intention is to “go gospel” professionally. 

    If you look at the press release for his engagement news, it specifically identifies his career focus as country music. And, presumably with some oversight/help from his management and/or reps with 19 (?), the news about his engagement made the rounds on numerous country music blogs and sites, including Country Weekly, CMT, GAC, CMT Canada, The Boot, Taste of Country, Country Music Tattletale, Country Music is Love, misc. country radio station sites, etc.  — some of them twice, as they carried the same follow-up that mj posted here from People.com. 

    There was no corresponding coverage in evidence in Christian media at all, much less gospel subgenre specifically.

    What I think Danny is saying in that interview is that he has a number of influences, interests musically, and he hopes that he will be able to express them more in his next album project. In general, I believe he had a good relationship with RCA, but there were definitely hints of friction in that regard from time to time about musical choices in terms of songs or vocal approach to the songs. Danny wants to be able to put his soulful sound into the songs, sometimes RCA evidently wanted him to hold back on that more than he was comfortable about.

    ETA: Now if Danny shows up at the Opry a week from today singing three gospel ditties, then maybe I will reassess. Lol! :)

  • Anonymous

    Nice to see all of the Idols in Nashville still working it.

    2011 was also a big opening set for Danny on the arena shows when he went out for Taylor Swift.

  • Anonymous

    Bo does look very handsome, but I liked him with the long hair also.

    Idol has produced so many Country greats.

  • steph6449

    2011 was also a big opening set for Danny on the arena shows when he went out for Taylor Swift.

    True. That was a great experience for Danny, and he seemed very appreciative for it.  

    He also had the tv movie early in the year which was very fun, featuring two of his songs from the debut album.

  • Anonymous

    Wow!  This piece totally surprised me.  It’s terrific!  Thank you for covering some of the artists who don’t get loads of attention!  Loved reading about all of them.

  • Anonymous

    Wow Bo’s hair cut really makes him look a lot younger.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I was just thinking about the last year, and I have to say it has been fun to be a Danny Gokey fan.

    While Second Hand Heart didn’t do for Danny what we hoped it would,  we had a number of other entertainments.  Danny provides a lot of access to his fans — with the Meet and Greets and the Danny Gokey Cruise that benefit Sophia’s Heart.

    Seeing Danny open for Taylor Swift at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh was great fun.  (Ironic since I am a Packer fan.) Taylor has her fans wrapped around her finger!

    And then there were the television appearances in 2011— being featured at the S10 Auditions in Milwaukee on AI, the singing/acting bit in the FOX TV Movie “Truth to be Told”, his dining room make over on HGTV, the semi-driving gig on “Day Jobs” and the appearances and references in “Girls that Like Boys that Like Boys.”  You just never know where Danny is going to show up!

  • windmills

    car3278sweet: 4) I can’t believe it’s been… what? Three years since we’ve had new Carrie music? Wow. Can’t wait.

    It’s been a little over 2 years (Play On was released early November 2009). If the album comes out in late April/early May it’ll have been 2 1/2 years between albums for her. I definitely want new music from her (hopefully great new music) but as I was writing up Carrie’s summary for the year it really hit me that it’s been a pretty full year despite being quiet by Carrie’s standards.

    larc: I’m thinking Aaron may still have his day.  He’s a very talented kid.

    He definitely is. It’ll be a while coming if Aaron’s going to make it but it’s interesting to see somebody try to build a career from AI without starting out on a big label. Carmen tried it and didn’t go very far. It won’t be easy for Aaron but with the right songs, you never know. He impressed me in those AI summer tour videos. 

    car3278sweet: 2) Danny is definitely going gospel. That interview was a pitch to the industry if I ever heard one. And who is “we”? Does he have a mouse in his pocket? (gentle teasing) 

    Some of Danny’s fans keep pointing out his preference to do secular music. Too, I expect with a new marriage he’ll want to sing about secular themes instead of just religious ones. Being a major label country act comes with the expectation and pressure to achieve a certain level of acceptance by gatekeepers and Danny obviously wasn’t going to achieve that. I think Danny’s current situation frees him up to really explore the pop/soul blend (maybe with Latin influences since he’s talked about that as an influence ever since AI) that’s his strong suit without worrying so much about dressing it up to fit the country format. I’d be surprised if gospel weren’t a part of his future and I do think that his best chance at succeeding on a radio format might still be Christian radio (or maybe AC radio), but at least for now I think Danny wants to sing about more earthly topics too.

    certain1: 2011 was also a big opening set for Danny on the arena shows when he went out for Taylor Swift.

    * facepalm * This is what happens when I block all things Taylor Swift out of my head. 

    steph6449: He also had the tv movie early in the year which was very fun, featuring two of his songs from the debut album.

    Oh I’d forgotten about that. Both that and the Taylor opening gig are part of his summary now with links. Sorry for the brain freeze and thanks.

  • steph6449

    Two more country blogs with items up on Danny’s engagement tonight, just to give a couple samples of what I was talking about.

    http://www.countryschatter.com/2011/12/danny-gokey-and-leyicet-peralta-to-marry-in-january/

    http://blog.country.inmusic.ca/2011/12/danny-gokeys-romantic-proposal.html 

    Nice that one is Canadian.

  • Anonymous

    I’m highly interested in the direction that Carrie Underwood will be taking with this new album. Will she continue with the country-pop style, or go more traditional with this one? Whatever direction she goes into, one thing I would like is that please, no Kara DioGuardi co-writes for this album!

  • sagi

    I don’t see Danny going “gospel” like “hallelujah” “Amen” kind of music. But I do think his passion for projecting a message or something to hit home to listeners would be a good fit with christian/inspirational formats including adult contemporary. I think he would do well and could correlate with his foundation. I think his audience for that type of music would likely be contributors as well as fans.

  • Anonymous

    “But I do think his passion for projecting a message”–

    this is true, but Danny likes to sing, dance, tell little stories and just have fun on stage, too.

  • happyhexer

    I am an unabashed Danny Gokey fan, and I guess I will just have to wait and see what Danny does. I can speculate all I want, but it won’t change a thing.Speaking only for myself, I would like to see him stay in the country music world. Many of the other Danny fans that I know feel the same way. (But we’re only one segment of his fanbase, which is surprisingly diverse.) Again, speaking only for myself, I would prefer that Danny not go Gospel/CCM. Not that I’m opposed to that type of music. But I love Danny’s energetic live shows — both the vocals and the performances. I doubt that Danny would be able to do the type of dancing and running around on stage that he currently does if he went Gospel/CCM.I never listened to country music before Danny came along, but I’ve become a genuine fan of the genre. And I can honestly say I’ve never bought so much music in my life (including Carrie Underwood, whose music I’d never listened to before Danny).It won’t be easy if Danny sticks with country music (but it won’t be easy if he switches genres either). Danny has the talent, but it will also take hard work and a little luck (and finding the right songs). So, I will need to be patient and remind myself that patience is a virtue . . .

  • Ringo

    It shows you how much support there is for country music on this blog.  Cookie plays a different song in concert and we get 50 comments.  James Durbin hits a few bad notes and we get 100 comments.   Adam changes his hairstyle and we get 400 comments.  Yet a summary of 6 or 7 country singers gets only 20?   Maybe it’s the holidays and no one is at work?

  • happyhexer

    Umm, sorry about the run-on commentary, but the site didn’t take my paragraph breaks.  Unfortunately, I am posting from a computer with IE 7, so it is hard to navigate around the site, etc.  That’s one reason I’ve been posting less.

  • Incipit

    Ringo, I saw your comment in the sidebar – otherwise I would never have come into this thread. There’s something for just about everyone on mj’s usually – but Country music holds no interest for me – I don’t follow any of the artists from Idol who went that route, and so I’m not (usually) gonna be in a thread that’s all Country. I have nothing to say.

    Well, except tonight…because you asked – yes, it is pretty empty all over the web sites I usually visit, the Friday night + New Year’s weekend double whammy – I would guess…there are Country fans on mj’s I think, just not many of them around right now.

    And there’s another post for you. *wink*

  • Valentin432

    Thanks for the hard work Windmills, I’m glad to see several exciting opportunities for the ex idols, I’m sure this is going to be a big year with new releases from Kellie and Carrie and an important touring year for Lauren and Scotty.

  • Anonymous

    Country is the new Pop. The Country fans who watch Idol are the most loyal and will follow their favorite after the show more than those fans who vote for pop/rock contestants.

    Sadly those contestants who did Pop/R&B haven’t done as well as those who went Country.

  • Anonymous

     ha ha…you lost me, but I enjoy your posts.  

  • Kylee

    Its pretty cool seeing all these idols in the country world. Even though the majority of them didn’t win, we can still see how much they are doing.

    Ha, I never knew Scotty and Bo met! That’s cute that he looks up to him and that Scotty and his family were raving about him. Bo had nothing but good things to say about Scotty too! Seems like a nice guy.

    I wonder though, is Danny going to stay country? Or do you think he will
    venture into a different genre like Phil Stacey did? This year should
    be an interesting year to follow!

  • Kylee

    I think there is a decent sized country following on the blog.

  • Anonymous

    I think Danny might end up the Christian music route which has been a great thing for Mandisa.

    I believe that Danny found it hard to enter the Country genre was because on Idol he seemed like he was not really into Country music.

    There used to be a Country Southern Rock genre in the old days maybe Bo, Casey James and Cyrstal could revive that…like the old Credance Clearwater group.

  • sagi

    I think people are misconceived about christian/inspirational music. There are all kinds of genres involved, even rock. I think his fans want him to stay country because they think he will not be relevant if he goes a different direction. I’m not a fan, but I think this route would serve Danny better and be more relevant for him and his foundation. If he can play for large congregations in addition to concerts (where he can still perform a variety of numbers to have fun and dance) and bring awareness to his foundation and get the support of his audience, his career and foundation could be a great success. It seems his foundation is very important to him (and his fiancee) and it seems he is considering how to broaden support for it, so if his music can help him do that, I don’t see how this could be a bad move. JMO, of course.

  • SaSa8

    Actually, I think there are a lot of country followers on this blog.  I know I am a new follower and only started reading this blog this year because of S10 –   maybe we just don’t post as much as Adam followers.  That being said, all the “country” idols are doing great.  This has been an exciting year following Scotty and all of them.  Can’t wait to see how next year unfolds.  Thanks MJ and Windmills.

  • Anonymous

    Country is the new Pop. The Country fans who watch Idol are the most loyal and will follow their favorite after the show more than those fans who vote for pop/rock contestants.  

    Sadly those contestants who did Pop/R&B haven’t done as well as those who went Country.

    I think that Fantasia and Jennifer are doing better than most of the people highlighted here.  Of the country idol alums who were signed, several lost their initial record contracts, even though they are still working, which would put them in a similar situation as Ruben Studdard.  

    I wouldn’t say that the country alums are doing better, if anything, I think the success rate is the same for all of the genres.

  • LVD

    The title “Whiskey Voodoo” sounds really interesting, I would really like to hear that song.  

  • steph6449

    I believe that Danny found it hard to enter the Country genre was because on Idol he seemed like he was not really into Country music. 

    Danny did four country-associated songs on AI, most of them on weeks when he could have chosen any songs he liked (Hollywood Week, iTunes week, Year You Were Born). He also chose to do half of his AI Tour set as country songs. Danny’s not the most traditional guy out there in trying to do country music, but I think he does like the songs and the stories.

    I think people are misconceived about christian/inspirational music. There are all kinds of genres involved, even rock. I think his fans want him to stay country because they think he will not be relevant if he goes a different direction. I’m not a fan, but I think this route would serve Danny better and be more relevant for him and his foundation. If he can play for large congregations in addition to concerts (where he can still perform a variety of numbers to have fun and dance) and bring awareness to his foundation and get the support of his audience, his career and foundation could be a great success.

    I primarily follow country personally. I like Christian music as well, but I don’t think that is what Danny wants to do. He is very well-received as a live performer in front of mainstream country audiences in clubs, festivals, arenas, etc. (Check the comments from the CountrysChatter blogger in my link below, who saw him headlining a full show live in her town.) He’s also done respectably well as a country newbie in terms of albums sold, with his music videos on the cable channels, being able to get a pretty stiff appearance fee, and getting favorable billing when he appears with other artists.

    His challenge has been mostly on the country radio front, where some stations love him, some don’t, and some it remains to be seen as their formats don’t tend to play songs much until they get high in the charts (source of frustration with my local station, they almost exclusively play top 15-20 current songs mixed in with older songs and recent hits that have gone recurrent). I’m not sure what to make of the result with SHH. There were a lot of things going on that may have been factors in addition to whatever country radio programmers think of Danny. Danny’s prior two singles were both top 40 songs, and MBAAOM closer to top 20, so I don’t think it’s an absolute certainty he could never do ~ok enough to get by on country radio with the right song, a label behind him with decent, sustained promotion, and a bit of luck. Presumably that is something any labels he may be talking to will be trying to figure out.

    Danny could have fun on stage if he went into Christian music some day, but I think he would be giving up a lot of what he enjoys now in the way of fun uptempo songs, mildly sexy songs, swoony romantic songs, etc.  Most of his fans from AI, including those who seem to be from that part of his fanbase coming from a Christian perspective, have liked what he’s been doing as a country artist. The few I see who don’t, are rarely ones who want him to be doing Christian music, more people who want him doing R&B songs, which I think is a pretty tough idea to chase in today’s environment for someone like Danny.

  • Anonymous

    Danny did four country-associated songs on AI, most of them on weeks when he could have chosen any songs he liked

    Most songs are not a specific genre, it’s how a song is arranged and performed that makes decides the genre.  There are plenty of country songs that were originally black spirituals, and even r&b and soul songs, and vice versa.  There was nothing country about Adam’s performance of Ring of Fire.  Danny singing songs that had been performed by country singers, didn’t make him a country singer, or hide the fact that’s not the genre that he should be in.

    I found some of Danny’s statements to be contradictory, but that might just show that he’s still finding out who he is as an artist, and searching for a sound that both works for him, and is marketable.  

  • mchcat

    I do follow country music and it is not only Danny that is not played on the radio – neither is Scotty, Lauren, Casey James – it took a long time for Chris Young (Nashville Star) to be played – hopefully they will all be picked up soon.  I liked Arron Kelly on his season but he was so critized  for his choices in music – they actually made fun of him when he sang “Already There”. I hope he makes it/

  • Anonymous

    I will bow to your expert knowledge on all things Danny Gokey, steph. But to me, I think his soul voice would fit very well into gospel and I just don’t think country (well, country radio) is ever going to embrace him.

  • steph6449

    Danny singing songs that had been performed by country singers, didn’t make him a country singer, or hide the fact that’s not the genre that he should be in.

    The question I was responding to was whether Danny was or was not “into country music.” I think his AI song selections show that he likes country music and has an affinity for country songs, albeit not exclusively country songs.  

    The AI song that probably best showed what Danny could do and since then, has done, in country music, was What Hurts the Most. He did well with the judges, it was his best-selling AI track on iTunes, and he continues to perform it in concert. 

    I guess we’ll see what genre Danny “should” be for his next music project. One country label thought he should be country for his debut album. Based on the indicators so far, it appears to me that he’s looking for the second country label that will think so and is willing to work with him to do the soulful country style that he’s been interested to develop and put out there.

    I found some of Danny’s statements to be contradictory

    Sometimes Danny does very well in interviews, and sometimes he rambles, lol. In this case, he doesn’t seem to be at liberty to talk about where he is at in connecting with another label. Fans seeing him at m&g sessions have definitely tried to get a few clues, but to no avail…

  • Anonymous

    I agree Steph, if we take radio out of the equation (which considering the results of several of Danny’s songs) really isn’t necessary, an outward look at his career has been fairly successful.

    For those that follow country music regularly, we see most of the new artist that are launch on the format disappear with out making a blip on the radar. Some are lucky enough to hit the chart yet have no concert opportunities, no media coverage and dismal to no existent album sales. Those who are lucky enough to have some radio success are not able to turn that in to concert ticket sales nor album sales.

    As to why Danny does not choose to go to CCM is in part because he seems to enjoy the diversity of the audience and the types of songs he is able to mix into his concert sets, and while he likes songs with strong messages they do not need to be religious messages. This of course is a good part of what makes up country music once you get past the songs about trucks, beer, plastic cups and shaking girls  :)

    What comes next for all of the Country idols will be very interesting, will Scotty be able to turn his album sales in to radio success and even solo concert ticket sales. Will Lauren find the success the slips through the fingers of many new country artists especially the women.

    Country is a genre that you can have a steady working relationship with for many years but for many it is out of the spotlight as we see with Josh, Bucky and Bo, no shame in that.

  • Anonymous

    Me too. A song called “Whiskey Voodoo” sung with CaseyJ’s whiskey voice? That could really be a winner. And I’m happy that I’m going to get 14 songs on his album instead of the usual 12. I can’t wait for March.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Cassaday/100000840860401 Chris Cassaday

    He said all 14 songs wont make the album. That is what he has to chose those ten to 12 songs from

  • sagi

    Yeah, I can’t wait to hear Casey J’s album! I really have enjoyed what I have heard so far, can’t wait to see what else he has up his sleeve! Hope to see him in concert one day to feel that guitar in my bones LIVE!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Cassaday/100000840860401 Chris Cassaday

    The jury is still out on all of those guys. They are just starting lol

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes Danny does very well in interviews, and sometimes he rambles, lol. In this case, he doesn’t seem to be at liberty to talk about where he is at in connecting with another label. Fans seeing him at m&g sessions have definitely tried to get a few clues, but to no avail…

    I was referring to the comments about his sound, and the direction he’s going in musically.  

    I agree Steph, if we take radio out of the equation (which considering the results of several of Danny’s songs) really isn’t necessary, an outward look at his career has been fairly successful.

    He was dropped from his label after one album and one song. That’s not the end of the world, but it doesn’t indicate success either. Neither do the chart runs of his second and third songs.

  • steph6449

    Some are lucky enough to hit the chart yet have no concert opportunities, no media coverage and dismal to no existent album sales. Those who are lucky enough to have some radio success are not able to turn that in to concert ticket sales nor album sales. 

    Depressing but true, lol. It’s a fairly rare newcomer (or even with some mid-level country acts) who makes much impact on album sales or can deliver on stage with much charisma right out of the gate. Sometimes seeing the new country acts on stage, I think there should be a school that teaches them how to move more than three feet from one place on the stage at some point in the duration of their set. Ha. For the lucky ones they get the time to develop and grow their career.

    Those who come out of the AI process, do kind of get a boot camp to help them with the stagecraft, so the frozen-in-place thing doesn’t seem to be as big a problem. And the AI grads have some advantage as a percentage of people in any given audience will recognize them from AI, and feel a connection to varying degrees.

  • steph6449

    I was referring to the comments about his sound, and the direction he’s going in musically.  

    He talks a lot about his influences growing up, and not wanting to be put “in a box” but I didn’t find that Danny said much that was very indicative of what he may be pursuing to get a second album out there. 

    It is a confusing interview though, maybe due to the conversational style in which he kind of wanders vs. giving very clear-cut answers to specific questions.

  • PerfectStorm

    Actually Danny’s in good company when you consider that the many of those who finished in the Top 2 have been dropped from their original label. Yet all of them continue to have careers doing music; many of them reinventing themselves.  So it will be really interesting to see what unfolds.

    But it was great to see all the love that Danny got from the media with the recent announcement of his engagement. Not only from the Country music radio stations, but from entertainment and the mainstream music industry. I am glad that people remembered him from Idol.

  • Anonymous

    But I think in the case of the label parting with Danny you have to look at the entire picture. RCA Nashvile absorbed into their roster the Columbia imprint, which gave them alot of artists and they had to cut somewhere, Danny being lowman on the totem pole seemed the most likely as the now had enough male artists on their label. The were able to pick up Love and Theft which gave them a  group they were so lacking along with the vanity project of Miranda’s, Pistol Annies. This was the largest RCA Nashville had been in a long time and had this combining not taken place I think Danny would still be there. I found it funny that they did not split the Columbia artists in to two groups and move them to BNA  (although once Kenny C’s contract is up the may close that one up).

  • Anonymous

    I am glad that Phil Stacey is doing Christian music. It fits him like a glove and he is great live. Like several have posted already, I am not sure that Danny would do Christian music exclusively. I have gotten used to him in country, but would love to see him do more of what I have seen on Idol.

  • Anonymous

    I believe Danny’s strength as a live performer— and his ability to really connect with his audience– will serve him well in the years ahead.

    Waiting for new label news is very agonizing, as many of the fans of other Idols know.  We are hanging in there, enjoying what is available from Danny— hearing him perform different songs, such as,  “White Christmas”, as well as “O Holy Night” with the Christmas Light special in Nashville— until he is able to tell his fans the news.

    BTW, Danny has performed at “Mega” Churches since he came off Idol.  It is part of who he is, although, RCA may have wanted to down play it.  I think he will look for a label that is more comfortable with his desire to sing on Sunday.  (Those type of appearances have commonly resulted in a donation to Sophia’s Heart.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Cassaday/100000840860401 Chris Cassaday

    The bottom line is Danny wasnt a natural fit for country. If you compare the stuff we hear from Casey J you can tell that country roots are there and this is where he belongs. With danny it just was not his natural fit.

  • Chris

    Whoa, I barely recognized Bo with that hair cut.

  • steph6449

    I’m not sure Danny is a “natural fit” for country, but I think he can fit somewhere in the broad spectrum of more modern-styled country acts, especially in all of the areas of the industry outside radio. (I don’t think Casey J is 100% a natural purebred country guy either, though more so than Danny. )

    Danny’s idea of country influences is more Rascal Flatts, Wynonna, and Tim McGraw which makes sense since he is of that generation and someone who had much more an urban than rural country upbringing. He’s never going to sound like the next George Strait, Waylon Jennings, or whatever, and that’s not his aspiration or claim.

  • Mike M

    Wow. Looks like Windmills had her crack research department working overtime. Seriously, I have no idea how she pulls all this together then manages to present it in an understandable and enjoyable format.

    As a country fan, this season of Idol was one of my favorites for obvious reasons. Not only did it make for fun TV viewing, it actually renewed my love for the music. I have been and continue to be so unhappy with country radio that I had just about lost interest in the genre. I know I am not alone in my disdain for the programming policies of country radio. i think Peter Cooper, the entertainment writer for the Nashville Tennessean, said it best in a year-end roundup last week. Along with the many highlights of the year in music, he had a couple of things he would like to forget. First and foremost was this: “The glut of ‘I’m so country I’m gonna sing you a rock song about it’ songs on radio.”

    Amen brother.

    Lauren and Scotty helped revive my love for country music, and the way they have been embraced and encouraged by major stars reminded me what great people we have in the industry.

    For the first time in a long time, I am excited about what is to come on the music scene. Lauren and Scotty’s first big tours with major country stars, the CMA Festival (which I haven’t attended in more than 10 years) is now once again at the top of my must-do list, Carrie’s new album, Casey James finally coming out with his album, Karen Fairchild’s ascension as lead vocalist of Little Big Town (and a much coveted spot on my official Country Music Goddess list), and the return of Alabama to the studo….these are all things that excite me.

    But, you know what really has my interest? Kellie Pickler. She has always been on the back burner for me, but I have a feeling about this album. The songs I’ve heard, particularly “100 Proof” and “Unlock That Honky Tonk” are, in my opinion the best she has done. Windmills sent me a link to Honky Tonk a couple weeks ago and I bet I’ve listened to it a dozen times since. I’m excited for the album.

    That’s a fairly long and pointless ramble for someone who just came here to tell Windmills what a fantastic job she did on this version of Idols Gone Country. So, I’ll finally get to the point: Great job Windmills. You’re the best.

  • moonz

    Oh my gosh there are so many albums to look forward too in 2012. I’m looking especially to Carrie’s and CaseyJ’s albums.

  • Kylee

    I’m looking forward to seeing how Casey does. I think he will have to kind of start out like any other new artist does since the idol audience tends to be fickle.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Cassaday/100000840860401 Chris Cassaday

    Yeah Caseyj will be more like a new artist. Go look up the only video of the goodlife with the whole band on youtube. It is very kieth urban and is so good and has hit written allover it. Casey has all the goods to be big but you can nver predict these things but I have have really good vibes for the long run for Casey. It mat not happen short term but most country artists arent overnight success.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the great roundup Windmills I have been an idol fan and country music fan fro many years so as one might expect I loved last season.  Things I look forward to  following are can Lauren and Scotty have continued succuss and truly become stares can Kellie P. break through to that next level with her promising new album, Carries new album and Casey’s album. Thats a lot of talent to come off of a talent show.  Thanks again Windmills I always look forward to your fair and knowledgeable comments. 

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see my earlier reply, so here goes again: Phil Stacey, in my opinion, can sing anything; but I feel that Christian music fits him like a glove. He has been continually busy since leaving the show, whether in country or contemporary Christian. While I would love to see Danny do some Christian music, I am not sure I can see him do it like Phil, Chris Sligh, or Mandisa. I hope that he can get to do what I have seen him do on Idol, though.

  • Anonymous

    If you compare the stuff we hear from Casey J you can tell that country roots are there and this is where he belongs. With danny it just was not his natural fit.

    And yet compare where he is at this point. I wish Casey all the best but next year we could be having the roundabout conversation about him.

    What is exactly the spark that makes someone last in this business, if I knew I would bottle it and make a billion dollars. I think a good song or popular song if you prefer will catapult an artist to the top but that perch is so small that falling off is extremely easy. One needs only to look back at the #1 new artist in 2010 Easton Corbin who had back to back #1 songs and one that peaked at # 15. He is set to release his new single in January will radio embrace hom again or will he be stuck mid pack with all of the others.

    I think Danny willl land on his feet hopefully in the Country music genre becuse that is where he wants to be and he is the one that has to live with his decision. Plus the fact that I believe Danny haas not even begun to tap his abilities.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Cassaday/100000840860401 Chris Cassaday

    I mostly agree with this. And like I said above there are no guarantees. But there is something about Caseyj that gives me good vibes. He has that it factor. And no it isnt the same thing all idol fans say about their favorites. He has the whole thing. Great musician, good looks. When you combine good music with those two things good things will come. He has guitar skills that are out of this world. He also has top notch management. LDCIAN has done really well for a first single from a new artist. There are lots of new artists on major labels that cant crack the top 60. LDCIAN isnt even close to being his best single.If this single has done this well his second single if it is a great upbeat choice like drive or the good life should do even better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Cassaday/100000840860401 Chris Cassaday

    One other thing about Caseyj is we know for a fact because it has come out of peeps at the label that they are estatic with Caseys sound and are really wanting to get his cd out. They have said they are so happy with how he is with fans, his work ethic and the sound. So when the label is that excited you know they will get promotion.

  • Anonymous

    well, Casey J has gotten some nice promo so far and should continue to get decent promotion when the album first drops, but if it doesn’t sell, that could dry up quickly — as many other Idols (both country and non-country) can attest. So fingers crossed that he will do well enough to get label support for a long while

  • Anonymous

    Really? I only get a measly 12? Darn it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Cassaday/100000840860401 Chris Cassaday

    Not every artist who struggles with their first album gets dropped. Sometimes the label believes in that artist so much they look to future possibilities. Jake owen is just starting to hit it with his new music and I believe this is his third album. They dont just drop an artist if they believe in that artist. Chris young was given a lot of time and almost did get dropped until gettin you home became a hit.

    The reason danny got dropped is the new people at sony werent the ones who brought him in so they had no invested interest in him and when SSH tanked they really had no choice with the reorganization that was going on. Casey J is very lucky he was given this opportunity when the new peeps came on board and all the turmoil going on so they defintly believed in him.

  • Anonymous

    “But there is something about Caseyj that gives me good vibes. He has that it factor. And no it isnt the same thing all idol fans say about their favorites. He has the whole thing. Great musician, good looks. When you combine good music with those two things good things will come. He has guitar skills that are out of this world. He also has top notch management.”

    I so agree with this. I’d also add that over the last couple of years he’s really developed a personality on stage. On AI he always looked a bit like a deer in the headlights. But to watch some of the recent vids of his performances – he’s got tons of charisma and is really honest-to-God funny. He definitely connects with the audience.

    There is something about CaseyJ. I have been a faithful watcher of AI for its entire existence. Never have I really followed any other singer. And honestly, I thought this odd obsession with the special snowflake would fade. It hasn’t. The more I listen to his music, see his skills, watch him grow as an artist… sigh. I’m afraid I’m hooked for life. 

  • Anonymous

    It is good to be happy for you favorite and I have yet to see an artist label come out and say this music really sucks, lol. In the end with todays market it will be about how much money you can make for the label. Right now Casey has not proven he can sell anything nor has he rocketed up the charts. Btw both of the artist you mention Chris and Jake were signed by Joe Gallante the same man who signed Danny, so I guess Gary has no loyalty to them either.

    Since this was a year end review of the idols gone country for 2011 we can revisit this issue in next years edition.

  • steph6449

    It’s not very clear how things unfolded with SHH. The Sony consolidation and contention for resources, etc., may have been among the factors if the label didn’t keep up promotion for it.  And Danny had to wait quite a long time to even get the song out so it could be heard.

    From what I recall, around that time there were songs (and/or new albums, in some cases) about to come out or already out for Jake, Chris Young, Miranda, Pistol Annies, etc. etc., all in need of label TLC & promotional suppport. Plus Love & Theft was signed, and various other things going on. Complicated picture, to say the least.  The expensive S8 AI contract probably didn’t help, nor the change of leadership at Sony Nashville.

    Hope whatever arrangement Danny moves to next will be better adapted to the business picture today, and also more in synch about musical direction.

  • sagi

    Casey James may not have been “rocketing” up the charts, but he has been holding on to a top 40 spot for some time. I think Casey is doing fine and when his new album drops, and maybe a new single, I feel confident he is going to pick up a lot of new fans with a real desire to pick up the album to hear what else he has to offer. And I believe they will like what they hear! :)

  • PerfectStorm

    Both Josh Gracin and Bucky Covington are certainly good fits for Country music.  And both had very strong starts.  But that didn’t prevent Josh from eventually being dropped and Bucky without a label for quite a while when his old one folded.  And Bucky has yet to release Album #2.

    As noted, we could be having a similar discussion regarding Casey James a year from now.  I don’t think anyone doubts his work ethic, etc. but the right now, he has not proven he can sell anything.  And ultimately, it will be his earning power that will determine what kind of future he will have with his label.

  • Kylee

    Bucky was kind of screwed over by the closing of the record label.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Cassaday/100000840860401 Chris Cassaday

    Casey is not Buccky or Josh. So much more talented. Plus those to both got screwed with lyric street.

  • happyhexer

    Has it ever occurred to anyone that when people start talking about how “my Idol is so much better than yours” that it just ends up alienating fans who might become fans of the “better” Idol?  I liked CaseyJ on AI9.  I like his single DLCIAN.  Sounds very James Otto-ish to me.  (Who, by the way, is currently without a label.)  I was looking forward to CaseyJ’s CD.  But you all have me rethinking my support of CaseyJ.

    Personally, I would like to see all the country Idols succeed.  (I don’t know too much about Bo Bice or Kristy Lee Cook, but I’m willing to throw them a bone, too.)  And I’d like to see the bulk of the non-country Idols succeed as well.  Most of the Idols can actually sing, and most are decent performers as well.  And successful Idols further the brand and make it easier for future Idols to be successful.  (Thank you, Scotty, for doing your part!)

    Well, at least I’m still looking forward to Haley’s CD. 

  • LVD

    Casey has done well enough for a new artist. Compared to other new artists his first single is going relativity well. Here is a good article about 2011’s new country artist for comparison: 

    http://www.roughstock.com/blog/2011-in-review-the-best-new-talent-of-the-year 

    Obviously Casey hasn’t shot up on the charts like Brantley Gilbert, but very few new artist ever do. Casey’s second single will be much more important in establishing himself then his first single.