‘American Idol’ Winner’s Debut Single Makes Mediocre Chart Debut

Last week, American Idol winner Lee DeWyze released his debut single—a cover of U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’—and now the underwhelming results are in: it failed to crack Billboard’s Top 10 singles and digital charts. Oof. The song entered at the 12th spot on the digital charts with 95,000 downloads and in the 24th spot on the Hot 100 singles charts, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The mediocre placing follows years of steadily decreasing cultural currency for American Idol. The viewership for the show’s finale hit an all time low this year, with only 24.2 million people tuning in, far below the 38.1 million people who watched in 2003 or the 36.4 million who checked out the 2006 finale.

Part of the problem might be the single itself—a cover of a relatively recent and, let’s be fair, pretty overplayed hit song can hardly be expected to grab audiences. The fact that DeWyze turns in an incredibly faithful version of ‘Beautiful Day’ doesn’t help. Why buy this when it sounds exactly like the original?

But, then again, maybe it is just Idol’s declining fortunes that are responsible for the poor performance, as the lukewarm chart placement isn’t limited to DeWyze. Runner-up Crystal Bowersox turned in an even worse performance, with her cover of ‘Up to the Mountain’ debuting at number 57 on the singles charts and number 32 on the digital charts.

As recently as 2008, an Idol alumn managed to hit the top spot in the digital charts, but, with fewer people watching than ever and Idol’s would-be stars fizzling right out of the gate, it looks like those days might be over.

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