"American Idol" runner-up Justin Guarini has reportedly been dropped from RCA Records after his self-titled debut failed to sell even one-tenth as many copies as Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken's albums.
Neither his record label nor his management would comment on Tuesday (December 2), but Guarini has been removed from the roster of artists on RCA's Web site. Guarini was also mysteriously missing from last week's "An American Idol Christmas" special, despite sharing the bill with his counterparts in early ads for the show. Producers of the show had no comment.
The singer's agent said he is still booking performances, but he referred questions about Guarini's record contract to RCA.
Simon Cowell, who was often hard on Guarini during the first "American Idol" season, recently told Us Weekly that the singer had been dropped, saying, "It happens sometimes." The magazine then informed Clarkson of the label fallout. "Oh my God," she's quoted as saying. "I had no idea. I'm friends with Justin. That is so sad."
Guarini released his album in June, just before "From Justin to Kelly" bombed at the box office. With little help from radio — the first singles, "Sorry" and "Unchained Melody," were released to different formats just a couple of days before the album — it sold about 54,000 copies in its first week, en route to a total of 134,000.
By comparison, Clarkson's Thankful, released in April, has sold 1.7 million copies, and second-season runner-up Aiken's Measure of a Man has sold 1.3 million copies since October.
Aiken and Ruben Studdard, whose Soulful is due December 9, released their first singles the same day as Justin Guarini hit stores, and the two second-season vocalists rocketed to the top of the singles chart (see "Has America Changed Its Mind? Clay Beats Ruben On Singles Chart").
"There's room for this season's winners, and then there's room enough for last season's as well," Guarini said at the time (see "Justin Guarini Sets Out To Prove 'I Can Really, Really Sing' "). "I just want to sell enough to get to get to the third album, because usually they'll give you a chance for the second album, but it's the third album where you really [have to] establish yourself."
While Guarini believed the album showcased his voice better than his run on "American Idol," reviewers disagreed. Even his "dawg," Randy Jackson, panned the album in Savoy magazine. "Everyone who had a hand in this catastrophe, y'all really should rethink your jobs," he wrote.
(For the record, Brian McKnight, Wade Robson and Babyface all had a hand in it.)
Later in the summer, Guarini said he had planned to make a video to promote the album, but one was never released. Clarkson, meanwhile, has made three, and they've all been "TRL" hits.
Guarini is not the only "American Idol" finalist to lose a record deal. Without even releasing an album or single, Tamyra Gray has been dropped by J Records (see " 'American Idol' Finalist Tamyra Gray Gets Recording Deal"), the label confirmed Tuesday.