Can Scott McCreery Beat The “American Idol” Dude Curse?

Beyond walking into a ladies’ bathroom or applying to a women’s college, there are not all that many arenas in which being female is a distinct advantage. But if you happen to be one of the final contestants on “American Idol,” having breasts and a vagina is a very good thing. Over the years, female winners and runners-up on “Idol” have gone on to superstardom. Meanwhile the guys—well, they tend to disappear quietly. Hardly the end anyone expected when the tears of happiness ran down their cheeks after they made it to Hollywood Week.

Think about it.Even though season one winner Kelly Clarkson has faltered in recent years, how many pivotal pop culture moments happened to “Since U Been Gone?” Season four winner Carrie Underwood has gone on to become a country music powerhouse. Jordin Sparks’ album went platinum and produced the highest selling single by an “Idol” artist ever, “No Air.” Season three winner Fantasia Barrino is the only female “Idol” winner to plummet—and I blame that on her name. But even her fall is counterbalanced by the success of Jennifer Hudson, who even though she came in seventh on her season, went on to star in “Dreamgirls” and win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

But the men of “American Idol” have not fared so well. That goes both for ‘Idol” winners and runners-up. As Ami outlined in depth here a while back, here is the recap:

  • Season one runner-up Justin Guarini was dropped by RCA for terrible sales and only found out by reading a trade magazine.
  • Season two winner Ruben Studdard was busted for owing $200K in back taxes.
  • Season two runner-up Clay Aiken’s second album tanked, perhaps because of his terrible haircut.
  • Season four runner-up Bo Bice ended up as a country music camp counselor.
  • Season five winner Taylor Hicks outlamed him when he played the role of Teen Angel in the National tour of “Grease.”
  • Season six runner-up Blake Lewis was dumped by Arista Records after seven months.
  • Season seven winner David Cook tragically lost his brother to cancer.

Kris Allen, who won season eight, and Lee DeWyze, who won season nine, haven’t had a ton of time to prove themselves, but both have been awfully quiet since their wins. The only guy who pops to mind when you say the words “American Idol” and “success story” is Adam Lambert, the season eight runner-up. And perhaps the eye liner offset the effect?

And so last night when Scotty McCreery was crowned the “American Idol” winner over Lauren Alaina, my first thought was: can he break this string of bad luck and actually become a star?

Some things seem to be working with Scotty. First, the fact that he’s a country singer could bode well as it’s a category that has produced an “Idol” superstar, Carrie Underwood. Second, his deep voice is something unique and a little different. Third, he’s cute and has the wholesome image needed for his genre. And it probably doesn’t hurt that this was the most-watched season of “Idol” in a long time, thanks in part to new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. It also probably will help that last night’s finale was nothing short of a spectacular with performances by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. Scotty even got to duet with Tim McGraw, getting a high five from the megastar at the end.

But still, I have my doubts. For some reason, people just don’t rush out to buy albums from “Idol” men.

Over at the Daily Beast writer Richard Rushfield wonders if “Idol” has a “white guy problem:”

It’s hard to say exactly how many clinical trials one would need to prove the theorem that good looking white males are the only category with any chance of win, but four lab tests seems ample. For the show’s first six years, its winners were as diverse a pool of gender and genres as one could have imagined; veering from Kelly Clarkson to Ruben Studdard, Fantasia to Carrie, Taylor and Jordin Sparks. And then, four white male champions, without interruption. At this point it seems safe to say, barring a force of nature appearing on the ‘Idol’ stage, no one outside of this demographic need apply for the crown. Whatever the reason for this shift (heavy text voting by young women is the usual suspect), this change has taken something huge away from the contest: the idea that anyone can become The American Idol.”

If this is true—and I don’t have enough data to say that it is—could it be that young, teenage voters attach to a cute guy singer and vote him to the top on “Idol.” But by the time his album comes out, they’ve moved on to crushing on the next cute guy?

Whatever the reason “Idol”‘s final two guys don’t tend to do so well after the show’s finale, I really do wish Scotty well as I think he is very talented. But I will be slightly amused if, in a year or two, Lauren Alaina is the bigger star.

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