Oh, Fantasia, showbiz can be so cruel, can't it? Even if you're an American Idol winner, life isn't exactly served up on a silver platter. If you're wondering what life is like after you win American Idol, the answer would probably be something along the lines of "very stressful." After all, you have just been crowned the Grand Poobah of the #1 show on TV. For your follow-up work to be anything less than record-breaking is unimaginable. Did Fantasia have anything to worry about? After all, Simon rarely had anything other than tremendous praise for her during the competition. He even went so far as to tell her that she was quite possibly the best contestant ever to appear on any season of American Idol, which is very high praise indeed. The problem is, America didn't quite agree with him 100%.
In its first week of release, Fantasia's single "I Believe" sold about 140,000 copies. This was enough to knock Usher from the #1 spot. That's the good news. The bad news is that her single is the second lowest in first-week sales among all American Idol winners and runners-up. The lowest was Diana Degarmo's single, "Dreams," which sold 65,000 copies. In other words, this year's "winners" performed worse than any other season. The total of Fantasia and Diana's first-week sales didn't add up to Kelly Clarkson's first-week sales of her single. For a long time, the running joke has been that Diana is headed down the same career path as Justin Guarini. (Just to give you an idea, William Hung's album sold better than Justin's.) Worst of all, neither Fantasia nor Diana has received much radio play since the release of their singles.
Call it a hunch (okay, call it pure speculation), but I am sure that if the final showdown this past season had been between LaToya and George instead of Fantasia and Diana, we would have seen much more impressive sales during the first week of release. America needed a winner and a runner-up whom they could stand behind and get exicted about, and those two weren't it. So why did America vote for them? Aside from the oft-publicized screwy voting system, something along the lines of "some people have a clue, and some don't" would probably suffice.
Overall, this was nothing more than a disappointing finish to a disappointing season. If it hadn't been for William Hung, LaToya and George, this season would have been extremely dull. (Very few of the featured "bad singers" got an LOL from me, and none approached the musical ineptitude of Derek or Keith.) Next year, we need to make things more exciting by voting for an underdog. If that person happens to be an abysmal singer, so much the better.