Your Guide To The Flood Of ‘Idol’ Albums Taking Over Record Stores

Taylor or 'Tasia? Katharine or Clay? We help you navigate 'American Idol' alums' new releases.

Two “American Idol” winners released records Tuesday, four former finalists have new music on the shelves, and a runner-up’s highly anticipated project is due in January — this is easily the greatest “Idol” influx since the show launched.

But with seven albums dropping in a four-month period, how do you keep them all straight? With our “Idol” album guide, of course …

Clay Aiken’s A Thousand Different Ways
In stores: Now
Official first single likely to be ignored by radio: Badfinger’s “Without You” (famously covered by Mariah Carey)
Sounds like:”People haven’t heard me sing just a soft, laid-back, chill type of sound. So we wanted to make sure that it had a kind of rise and fall to it, at least vocally.”
Cred: Covers Foreigner
Subtle attempt at breaking away from “Idol”: Bangs
Fun fact: The spoken-word bridge in his rendition of Mr. Mister’s “Broken Wings” was inspired by Evanescence (see “Clay Aiken Calls Talking About His Personal Life ‘A Waste Of Time’ “ ).
Sales pitch: “If anything, this is the first time that I’ve been able to do something that I think sounds like me.”

Daughtry’s Daughtry
In stores: Now
Official first single likely to be ignored by radio: “It’s Not Over”
Sounds like: “It’s got the sensitive, lighter stuff, but also it’s got the stuff that makes you want to run around in circles, pounding the walls in.”
Cred: Producer Howard Benson, Ben Moody, Shinedown’s Brent Smith
Subtle attempt at breaking away from “Idol”: Forming a band
Fun fact: Chris met Daughtry drummer Joey Barnes at a battle of the bands in North Carolina years before “Idol” (see “Chris Daughtry Says ‘Idol’ Ejection Was ‘Best Thing’ For Him; Talks LP” ). Chris’ band won.
Sales pitch: “I think there’s a little rock and roll in everybody. And it’s definitely something I am extremely proud of. I feel like I have a lot to say and I want the world to hear it.”

Fantasia’s Fantasia
In stores: Now
Official first single likely to be ignored by radio: “Hood Boy”
Sounds like: “Aretha Franklin meets Tina Turner. I call it urban rock.”
Cred: Big Boi, Missy Elliott, Swizz Beatz, Babyface, Sean Garrett
Subtle attempt at breaking away from “Idol”: Shot “Hood Boy” video in South Central L.A.
Fun fact: Fantasia has “Rock Star” tattooed on her right wrist (see “Fantasia Unleashes Her Inner Rock Star: ‘This Time It’s My Own Vision’” ).
Sales pitch: “You should buy mine ’cause you get to hear ‘Tasia. This is all my vision and it’s what I wanted to do. And it’s just one of those albums that when you put it on and you’re cleaning your house, you have no choice but to rock to it. And I’m bringing music back. Music. That is what I wanted this time. Real, live music. It’s just a good album. I mean what more can I say?”

Taylor Hicks’ Taylor Hicks
In stores: Now
Official first single likely to be ignored by radio: “The Runaround”
Sounds like: “New Orleans meets jazz meets groove meets doo-wop meets hip-hop.”
Cred: Producer Matt Serletic, Bryan Adams, Rob Thomas
Subtle attempt at breaking away from “Idol”: Recently jammed with Snoop Dogg. “He was in my hometown in Birmingham and I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if he would want harmonica on “Gin & Juice”?’ “
Fun fact: Taylor has a snare drum credit on the album, which also features the exact same organ heard on the Steppenwolf classic “Born to Be Wild.”
Sales pitch: “It’s a feel-good album. It’s got a great positive vibe, and I’m really looking forward to playing it. I made sure that the music that was on this album could be performed really well in a live setting” (see “Taylor Hicks Hopes ‘Traveling Circus Of Fans’ Follows Him On Tour” ).

Katharine McPhee’s untitled album
In stores: January 30
Official first single likely to be ignored by radio: TBA
Sounds like: “People are going to be expecting the young Barbra Streisand to come out, but I’m young and I’m so much more fun and outgoing than I was on ‘Idol.’ “
Cred: Chad Hugo, Babyface, Kara DioGuardi and Timbaland’s production partner, Nate “Danjahandz” Hills
Subtle attempt at breaking away from “Idol”: “We’re not in Kansas anymore” is the official slogan of KatharineMcPhee.com, a reference to her signature “Idol” song, “Over the Rainbow,” which will not be on the album (see “Katharine McPhee’s LP: A Little Bit Pussycat Dolls, A Little Bit Mariah” ).
Fun fact: Katharine was encouraged to audition for “Idol” while co-starring in the stage musical “Rock of Ages,” a tribute to hair metal starring Kyle Gass.
Sales pitch: I feel like I really got a chance to find my voice, and I also haven’t really tried to have a certain deadline with the record. For me, the most important thing is making it the record that is really me.”

Kellie Pickler’s Small Town Girl
In stores: Now
Official first single likely to be ignored by radio: “Red High Heels”
Sounds like: “I grew up listening to country music, and it’s the easiest to write because it’s just true stories.”
Cred: Dixie Chicks producer Blake Chancey
Subtle attempt at breaking away from “Idol”: Toning down the ditzy routine.
Fun fact: Kellie co-wrote five of the tracks, more than any other former “Idol” finalist on his or her major-label debut (see ” ‘Idol’ Finalist Kellie Pickler Has Last Laugh, Inks Record Deal” ).
Sales pitch: “I was always so open about my life on the show, and I just wanted to continue that with this album.”

Ruben Studdard
The Return
In stores: Now
Official first single likely to be ignored by radio: “Change Me”
Sounds like: Same ol’ Ruben
Cred: Producers Ne-Yo, Scott Storch and the Underdogs
Subtle attempt at breaking away from “Idol”: Dropping Of the Velvet Teddy Bear from the original title.
Fun fact: Ruben produced his cover of “If Only for One Night,” popularized by his hero, Luther Vandross (see “From Teddy Bear To Sexy Beast: Ruben Studdard Loosens Up On The Return ).
Sales pitch: “I really got a chance to relax and sing, not like my first album when I was on the road the whole album.”

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