She came in second to Scotty McCreery during "American Idol" Season 10 and she's still playing second-best. A week after Lauren Alaina's first album was released, the sales were good enough to place it at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. But Scotty McCreery, who had the No. 1 album and the No. 1 Country album in the nation the previous week, still managed to outpace her.
Lauren Alaina's "Wildflower" debuted its first week in circulation at the No. 5 spot in the nation, selling 69,000 units. Although she didn't take the top spot (Evanescence took the No. 1 position with their first album in five years), the 16-year-old Alaina had the highest debut album sales of a female country artist since 2006. And she still came in just behind Scotty McCreery, whose "Clear As Day" sold an additional 88,000 copies.
"Wildflower" also debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. And, as one might guess, Scotty McCreery held on to the No. 1 spot on that chart.
McCreery's album preceded Alaina's by a week via a strategic sales move by their respective recording labels. It has become somewhat of a tradition among "American Idol" alumni that the runner-up drop their studio album the week after the winner.
"They do share a fan base together by nature of sharing the 'American Idol' experience together," Universal Music Group Nashville VP of marketing Tom Lord told Billboard. "This allows us to message both releases to the fan base, so people going to retail to buy one will see the other positioned at retail at the same time."
Lord continued: "We went one week apart from each other so that they can each have their own street date, and so that they wouldn't be competing with each other for similar media bookings in the same week."
The high debuts of McCreery and Alaina also marked the first time since 2008 that a winner and runner-up placed their albums in the Top 5. That year, David Cook and David Archuleta saw their eponymous offerings bow in at No. 3 and No. 2, respectively.
Alaina's "Wildflower" also sold 11,000 more copies than did Season 9 runner-up Crystal Bowersox' debut "Farmer's Daughter" its first week out (which outsold winner Lee DeWyze's album by an additional 19,000 units).
"It's really cool that our careers are being laid out around the same time," Alaina said of McCreery, whom she calls a friend, just not a boyfriend. "We went through this whole experience together. That's a bond we don't have with anyone else."
Asked about future duets (the two performed several well-received numbers on "American Idol," including the Carrie Underwood and Randy Travis Grammy-winning "I Told You So"), both noted in interviews that they would explore their solo careers initially but left the door open for future collaborations. True to their words, no duets with each other appeared on their albums.
Which was probably just as well for Lauren Alaina. She most likely would have received second billing in that regard as well.
(photo credit: jramspott, Creative Commons)