December 14, 2003. That was the date Ruben Studdard's Soulful opened at #1 on the Billboard albums chart. And somewhat incredibly, it's also the last time a debut disc from an "American Idol" champion accomplished the feat.
Sure, there have been some near-misses along the way, but since Studdard, none have been able to bow at #1, a streak that spanned some 2,859 days (or 4,116,960 minutes, in case you were counting).
It's also a streak that officially came to an end on Wednesday (October 12), with the rather eye-opening #1 debut by "Idol" season 10 champion Scotty McCreery, whose Clear As Day sold nearly 197,000 copies to take the top spot. It's the highest first-week number for an "American Idol" winner since David Cook sold almost 280,000 copies of his self-titled debut in 2008 and, given the recent lack of chart success from "Idol" champs, it's an even more impressive feat.
Because, while some "Idol" also-rans (Clay Aiken, Chris Daughtry, Adam Lambert, etc.) have managed to move units, the contemporary crop of champions have suffered poor first-week sales. Thanks to the support of the country music crowd, McCreery has managed to buck that trend. But where, exactly, do Clear As Day's first-week numbers rank among the debuts by other "American Idol" winners? We've crunched the figures, along with the chart positions, below:
» Ruben Studdard, Soulful, 2003: 416,569 (#1 debut)
» Carrie Underwood, Some Hearts, 2005: 314,549 (#2)
» Taylor Hicks, Taylor Hicks, 2006: 298,199 (#2)
» Kelly Clarkson, Thankful, 2003: 297,381 (#1)
» David Cook, David Cook, 2008: 279,578 (#3)
» Fantasia Barrino, Free Yourself, 2004: 239,589 (#8)
» Scotty McCreery, Clear As Day, 2011: 196,739 (#1)
» Jordin Sparks, Jordin Sparks, 2007: 119,119 (#10)
» Kris Allen, Kris Allen, 2009: 80,072 (#11)
» Lee DeWyze, Live It Up, 2010: 38,581 (#19)