The news of Pia “I Got Voted Off ‘Idol’ Way Early And All I Got Was This Awesome Record Deal” Toscano joining Interscope’s roster surprised no one, except maybe my cat Moo Shu. (Homegirl’s a Voice fan. She thinks Idol is so seven years ago.) Toscano already shattered records by being the lowest-placing Idol also-ran to nab a significant major label deal in the show’s ten year history. (She was ninth! NINTH, I say!)
While we wait to see whether Pia becomes the next Jennifer Hudson or Kristy Lee Cook, let’s look back at the careers of previous ninth-place finishers to see how they’ve fared.
Season One: Jim Verraros
Jim was our inaugural “token sob story” contestant, and he parlayed his name recognition into movie roles in popular gay indie flicks. (Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds might be my fave sequel title since Electric Boogaloo.) He waited three years post-Idol to release his clubby dance album, Rollercoaster, and its lead single “You Turn It On” just missed hitting the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Chart. When MTV News caught up with him last, he talked openly about surviving the Idol bubble. “You get out there and realize, ‘Wow, I don’t have a lot of credibility even though I became a household name in nine weeks.’ You are forgotten just as fast,” he said.
Season Two: Corey Clark
Believe it or not, the controversial Clark – who was disqualified for lying about a hairy domestic dispute and later claimed to have had an affair with Paula Abdul - was once a part of the Universal Music Group, (which includes Interscope Records). His 2005 self-titled debut album – independently produced but distributed by Universal - boasted a Black Eyed Peas cameo and production by one of the top producers at that time, Scott Storch. Seriously.
Despite widespread coverage of his alleged Abdul showmance – including an hour long ABC Primetime Live special called… wait for it… Fallen Idol – nobody cared about his album. He said it was because Clear Channel radio stations were in bed with Idol and refused to play his single. I say it’s because his music was laughably bad. Look up “Paulatics” to see what I mean. Actually, don’t.
Season Three: Camile Velasco
Camile is yet another 9th placer who scored a brief deal with the Universal family. Strangely, like Corey Clark, she worked with the Black Eyed Peas, too. (I spy an Idol at the 2:21 mark of their “Bebot” music video!) Alas, with no tall tales about sleeping with an Idol judge, even less people cared about her brief music career than Corey’s. Despite headlining some big concerts in the Filipino-American community, Camile has yet to release an album.
Season Four: Nikko Smith
Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith’s son replaced hat aficionado Mario Vasquez. (Remember when that dude dropped out of the competition? Dramz.) Nikko’s Wikipedia page claims he’s working on his debut R&B album called The Revolution on a record label we’ve never heard of. Best of luck with that, Nikko!
Season Five: Mandisa
Unless you’re a gospel fan, you’re probably not keeping tabs on the season five diva. But holy moly, the newly-svelte Mandisa has transitioned into a full-fledged gospel star with three significant albums under her belt. A few weeks ago, she became the only ninth-place Idol to have a #1 single, the inspirational “Stronger.” (No, it’s not a Kanye cover.)
To date, Mandisa has sold over 450,000 albums. That’s more than Katharine McPhee, Bucky Covington and Paris Bennett – other season fivers who outlasted Mandisa on Idol. Heck, it’s even more albums sold than the past two “Idol” winners. You keep doin’ you, Mandisa! It’s working!
Season Six: Gina Glocksen
The rocker from 2007 revamped her career as a TV host. But just this past March, the Glock finally released her first official single on iTunes, “Superhero.” It has yet to chart.
Season Seven: Ramiele Malubay
Ramiele hoped to follow in the Pinoy footsteps of season three’s Jasmine Trias, who went overseas to find a massive following. She has not had similar success.
Season Eight: Megan Joy
The single mom from Utah with a quirky voice and quirkier personality has been writing and recording tunes with a band independently. (She’s shared a few on Twitter and they’re actually pretty damn great.) Nothing major has developed for her music career yet, but don’t count her out. She might surprise the naysayers with a strong indie album as soon as she can. In the meantime, she’s prepping for her upcoming September nuptials with The Used’s Quinn Allman.
Season Nine: Katie Stevens
After putting Connecticut on the map, the tiny teen with a big voice moved to Los Angeles. Traitor! (Kidding, Katie.) She’s taking acting classes with another teenage Idol runner-up, season eight’s Allison Iraheta, when she’s not writing songs with David Hodges for an upcoming album. However, she doesn’t have a record deal. Yet?
How do you think Pia Toscano will fare? What kind of music do you want her to release? Do you have a favorite Ninth-Placer from ‘Idol’? Sound off in the comments below, and for more ‘Idol’ insanity, follow me on Twitter @jambajim!