Phillip Phillips’ “Home” this week surpasses Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” to become the best-selling song ever released by an American Idol alumnus. “Home” has sold 4,262,000 digital copies. “Stronger” has sold 4,245,000.
“Stronger” wore the Idol sales crown for about eight months. It surpassed Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” on July 1, 2012. Underwood’s smash held the title for nearly five years. It surpassed Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” on Aug. 19, 2007. While those three other hits are all sassy and up-tempo, “Home” echoes the rootsy folk-pop sound of Mumford & Sons.
“Home” was Phillips’ “coronation song” on Idol in May, when he was declared the Season 11 winner. The song entered the Hot 100 at #10 in June. It then tumbled down the chart, but got its second wind after NBC featured the song during its coverage of the Summer Olympics in August. The week after the Olympics, it rebounded from #84 to #9. It finally peaked at #6 in January.
The strong showing by “Home” is especially noteworthy because Idol’s ratings have been trending down in recent years. At least 30 million viewers watched the season finale for four straight years (Seasons 4 through Season 7). Fewer than 30 million viewers have watched the season finale the last four years. According to Nielsen, 21.49 million viewers watched the season finale in May, which made it the least-watched finale in Idol history. (The most-watched finale was the Season 2 showdown between Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, which was watched by 38.06 million viewers.)
While “Home” has drawn frequent comparisons to Mumford & Sons, it has done better than any of that British group’s hits. Mumford & Sons’ best-selling song is “Little Lion Man” (2,326,000). Its highest-charting hit is “I Will Wait” (#12).
Even though she no longer has the best-selling song by an Idol alum, Clarkson has four songs among the top 10 Idol best-sellers to date. Daughtry and Jordin Sparks each have two of the top 10.
“Before He Cheats” is now in third place among songs by Idol alums, with sales of 3,735,000. “No Air” by Sparks & Chris Brown is in fourth place, with sales of 3,531,000.
Here’s the rest of the all-time Idol top 10, in descending order: Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” (2,709,000), Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” (2,611,000), Daughtry’s “Home” (2,349,000), Daughtry’s “It’s Not Over” (2,302,000), “Don’t You Wanna Stay” by Jason Aldean with Clarkson (2,287,000) and Sparks’ “Tattoo” (2,226,000).
Underwood continues to have the best-selling album ever released by an Idol alum. Her debut album, Some Hearts, has sold 7,308,000 copies since its release in 2005. It has held the title since July 2007, when it surpassed Clarkson’s sophomore album, Breakaway. Breakaway, in turn, took the title in July 2005 from Clay Aiken’s debut album, Measure Of A Man, which took it from Clarkson’s debut, Thankful, in December 2003.
Underwood has three of the top 10 best-selling albums by Idol alums. Clarkson and Aiken each have two.
Breakaway is in second place, with sales of 6,282,000. Here’s the rest of the all-time Idol top 10, in descending order: Daughtry’s debut album, Daughtry (4,938,000); Underwood’s sophomore album, Carnival Ride (3,318,000); Aiken’s Measure Of A Man (2,786,000); Clarkson’s Thankful (2,772,000); Underwood’s third album, Play On (2,190,000); Fantasia’s debut, Free Yourself (1,839,000); Ruben Studdard’s debut, Soulful (1,792,000); and Aiken’s holiday album, Merry Christmas With Love (1,380,000).
Phillips’ debut album, The World From The Side Of The Moon, has sold 792K copies. It has spent seven weeks in the top 10 on The Billboard 200. It’s the first debut album by an Idol winner to log seven or more weeks in the top 10 since Underwood’s Some Hearts spent 30 weeks in the top 10 from 2005 to 2007.
Clarkson’s “Stronger” made a bit of history in December as the first recording by an Idol alum to receive a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year. (It lost to “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye featuring Kimbra.) “Home” was also eligible in that category, but was passed over for a nomination by the panel of Grammy insiders who determine the final nominations in the top four categories.
Phillips will have a second chance to receive a Grammy nomination in a marquee category this December. He’s vying to become only the second Idol alum to receive a nomination for Best New Artist. The first was Underwood, who went on to win the award. (Best New Artist nominations are keyed to the release of the artist’s debut album. Phillips’ debut album was released in this eligibility year.)
Underwood has amassed six Grammys, more than any other Idol alum. Clarkson is second with three. Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia have each won one.
In addition, Hudson is the only Idol alum to have won an Oscar. She was voted Best Actress In A Supporting Role for her performance as Effie White in 2006’s Dreamgirls.