[artist id="1933910"]Carrie Underwood[/artist]'s first album hit #2 on the Billboard albums chart, and two years later, her second album rocketed all the way to the top spot. Taylor Hicks' debut hit #2, while his follow-up stalled out at #58. Clearly, "American Idol" alumni have a mixed record when it comes to their sophomore albums.
On Wednesday (July 22), when next week's Billboard chart was released, season-five "Idol" finalist [artist id="2385930"]Chris Daughtry[/artist] showed everyone which category he belongs in. His band's 2006 album reached #1 nine weeks after its release and eventually went four-times platinum. This week, his band's new album, Leave This Town, shot straight to #1.
"We put a lot of heart, soul and tears into this record, [and] coffee — a lot of caffeine, lot of Red Bull," Daughtry told MTV News before the album came out. "It's the best work we've done yet, we think, and we hope the fans think so too."
Guitarist Josh Steely knew the band would beat the sophomore jinx. "Our first single is already at #1," he said in May. "Our fans have been waiting so much for this. It's gonna do great."
Howard Benson, who produced both Daughtry albums, credits the frontman's work ethic as perhaps the most important ingredient that went into producing the second disc. "He turned out to be probably the hardest-working artist I've worked with," he told MTV News in a pre-release interview. "This guy appreciates where he's at and what he has, and he knows he hit the jackpot."
Mostly session musicians recorded the '06 album, but this time, Daughtry's band was fully in place for This Town. The result, Benson said, is "more of a coherent album. It doesn't feel like it's all over the place with the songs."
Ultimately, though, Benson sees Daughtry's commitment to starting a band — instead of embarking on a solo career — as the thing that lent his post-"Idol" career credibility and longevity. "That band idea of his was genius," Benson said. "It's created more of a reality for his project, as opposed to it just being him. You can't push him around anymore, style-wise. The band is the style. That's who they are."