Caleb Johnson won’t be following in the footsteps of previous American Idol winners. Johnson, who was crowned as the season 13 victor this past May, is beginning his post Idol career by doing something that a winner has never done before: releasing their debut record only three months after the show’s conclusion. Usually, the album that an American Idol winner releases doesn’t see the light of day until much longer than Johnson’s three month timeframe. In fact, there hasn’t been a winner’s album that came out before October of the calendar that they won in. So, what makes Johnson the exception?
Caleb Johnson will release his debut album, Testify, in August
Since season 13’s finale, Johnson has been in the studio writing and recording for the album, working with established song writers like Sam Hollander and James Michael. "Usually, they just give (the winners) demo songs. I want this to be an artistic statement on my part,” Johnson told USA Today. On his upcoming album, Testify, out August 12, he has a co-writing credit on over half of the album’s tracks. Meanwhile, Candice Glover, winner of last year’s American Idol, only contributed to one of the songs on her album (ironically, one was even written by season three winner, Fantasia Barrino). Glover’s album, Music Speaks, was originally set to release in July 2013 – that would have made it the first album that broke the mold of Idol album release schedules.
However, numerous delays kept it under wraps until February 2014. It didn’t perform too hot either: it landed at number fourteen on the Billboard chart selling only 19,000 copies in its first week. Could Johnson’s August release mean that American Idol is attempting to correct their wrongs with Glover? From a fan perspective, a release date that is closer to an Idol’s win is ideal; you would want their music as soon as possible. While the typical November release makes sense and can coincide with some early Christmas shopping, the fact that an earlier release will fall during American Idol’s nationwide tour could mean an album sale boost if it’s available for purchase during the concert.
Is Caleb Johnson’s new album bound for success?
Good first week numbers are most likely on the minds of RCA Records after the Glover flop. Recent winners like Phillip Phillips and Scotty McCreery had albums that both debuted in the top five and sold 169,000 and 197,000 copies, respectively. Overall, season two winner Ruben Studdard holds the record of most sold in a week with 417,000, and Carrie Underwood is right behind him with a debut that moved over 315,000 units. Glover’s measly 19,000 soldeasily makes that the worst Idol debut in history. While Caleb Johnson probably isn’t going to sell anything close to 400,000 in his record’s first week, the decision to pump the gas on his release can do nothing but help it. For a show that’s struggling in ratings like never before, an August date for their newest champion might be the best thing that American Idol can do that can help keep it alive.