Never gone? That seems to be a good way to describe seventh-place "American Idol" finalist Colton Dixon, considering that he left the hit reality show back in April and has been in the news periodically ever since because of the "LIVE! Tour." He also recently made news when it was announced he had landed a major label recording contract with Sparrow Records. But "Never Gone" is the title of a Dixon song released to iTunes on Sept. 25. And now, AmericanIdol.com has announced, it is the title of his first No. 1song.
Double that. "Never Gone" topped both the Christian Digital Songs survey and the Christian/Gospel Digital Songs chart after its first week in release.
Not a bad way to start one's career.
Dixon has been singing the contemporary Christian song while on the "American Idols LIVE! Tour 2012" with the other Top 10 "Idol" finalists. He holds the distinction of being the first finalist allowed to perform a self-penned song.
The 21-year-old Tennesseean wrote of "Never Gone" on his Facebook page: "This song sums up my American Idol experience. There were times when I felt like I was by myself, or just felt unplugged from reality. There were even times when I asked God if He was still there.... He always answered with, "I never left you." I hope that you can be encouraged by this song as I am. You are not alone. God is with you. His answer is and will always be, "I never left you." He can see us even when we can't see Him through our own lack of faith through the hard times. We just need to realize that God is standing with arms open right where we left Him. He never left."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Dixon's topping the Christian Digital Songs chart makes him the third "Idol" alum to do so. Season 8 winner Kris Allen’s “Live Like We’re Dying” topped the chart for 24 weeks in 2010 and Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood’s “How Great Thou Art” reached the No. 1 spot for one week in 2011.
Dixon is also the sixth finalist from Season 11 to chart. He follows Phillip Phillps, Jessica Sanchez, Joshua Ledet, Hollie Cavanagh and Skylar Laine. However, he is only the second to top a Billboard chart from Season 11 (which Phillips did with his mega-hit "Home," his winning coronation song).
And it seems oddly appropriate that an "Idol" alum top a chart the first week of the second decade for charting finalists. It was the week of Oct. 5, 2002, that Kelly Clarkson, the series' first winner, saw "A Moment Like This" hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100.
"You Are," Dixon's first official single from his upcoming album, The Messenger, will be released on Oct. 19, three days after he turns 22 years old.
Dixon's road to No. 1 began when he showed up in Nashville to support his sister, Skylar, who was trying out at the Season 11 auditions for the second straight year. The judges remembered her and asked about her brother. After calling him in from outside, the judges talked him into auditioning. Both he and his sister received gold tickets for Hollywood. Although she was eventually cut, Dixon seemed to get stronger with each passing week. In fact, the week that he received the news that he had received the least number of votes, oddsmakers and power rankers had placed him at the tops of their lists for the first time.
Still, as surprising as his leaving the show so early might have been, he joined good company. Jennifer Hudson was dismissed in the seventh spot in Season 3. Ace Young, who co-wrote Daughtry's monster debut hit "It's Not Over" and asked Season 3 runner-up Diana DeGarmo to marry him on the Season 11 finale, finished seventh in Season 5.
And to prove that "Idol" alums are just about everywhere, his record label, Sparrow, is also home to Season 5's Mandisa, who has also topped the several Christian music charts and is experiencing an 18-month sales run with her latest album, What If We Were Real, and will release a revamped Christmas Angel Edition of her 2008 holiday album, It's Christmas, on Dixon's birthday.
"American Idol" will return to Fox Television in January.
(photo credit: Sparrow Records, Wikimedia Commons)