While millions of viewers picked up the phone for Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox during this season’s American Idol finale, only a fraction of those voters actually ended up supporting their favorite contestant when the Top Two’s first official singles were released digitally. Both singles met tepid download sales in their first week: DeWyze’s cover of U2’s “Beautiful Day” was last week’s 12th highest-selling single with 95,000 downloads, Reuters reports. Bowersox didn’t fare well either, and her cover of Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain” debuted at Number 57 on the digital sales chart with 49,000 copies. Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” was Number One, selling 295,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan.
This season’s final episode — the last to feature judge Simon Cowell — was the lowest-rated Idol finale since 2002, so chart-watchers assumed DeWyze and Bowersox would suffer a sales hit, but the drop-off is significant. Last season, Kris Allen’s first post-Idol single “No Boundaries” notched 134,000 downloads in its first week, and the previous season’s winner David Cook scored 236,000 downloads with “The Time of My Life,” making it the top-selling digital song in its first week of release. When Kelly Clarkson won the first season of Idol in 2002, her “A Moment Like This” debuted at Number One on the Hot 100, and both “Moment” and Cook’s “Time” have topped a million in sales apiece in combined physical and digital copies.
The key difference may be song choice: both Allen and Cook’s singles, like those released by the six winners before them, were official “coronation songs” written specifically for Idol to capture the majesty of the victory. “Seeing what was on the table for me, that was the song that would represent the moment the best,” DeWyze told Rolling Stone of his U2 pick. (Watch our interview with Season Nine’s winner here.)
Both DeWyze and Bowersox’s first singles are struggling on the iTunes singles chart as well. At press time, DeWyze’s “Beautiful Day” is at Number 40, the pair’s “Falling Slowly” duet is right behind in Number 41 and Bowersox’s “Up to the Mountain” lands at Number 110. By comparison, Ke$ha’s “TiK ToK,” released over six months ago, is at Number 28, while Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” Rolling Stone‘s Song of the Year for 2008, is at Number 106.
As Rolling Stone previously reported, both contestants inked record contracts last week — DeWyze will be heading to RCA, while Bowersox will record for Jive. But first, the two singers will join the rest of Season Nine’s Top 10 on the road for the lengthy American Idols Live tour, which launches July 1st at Michigan’s Palace of Auburn Hills.