Idol's Lauren Alaina wins New Artist of the Year

A year after Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery won the first ever New Artist of the Year award at the American Country Awards, his runner-up, Lauren Alaina, won the second trophy ever given in the category.

Some think Lauren Alaina should have won the Season 10 title of "American Idol," that she was just as good as Scotty McCreery, the guy that did win it. And there are those that think that if "Idol" wasn't stuck on its "WGWG" (White Guy With Guitar) paradigm, she actually would have won it. But that's all water under the bridge, as they say. Besides, the recently turned 18-year-old country singer just matched McCreery in one area. Alaina won the New Artist of the Year award at the 2012 American Country Awards in Las Vegas Monday evening (Dec. 10), the same award McCreery took home in 2011.

And it was only fitting that last year's winner bestow the honor on the newly anointed. A smiling McCreery handed a visibly shocked Alaina her trophy, the signature blue Fender guitar.

Alaina, attempting to hold back tears, said, "I can’t breathe. I want to thank God and the fans, thank you for voting for me.” She thanked her mother for her support over the past two years.

The young country singer had every reason to be surprised that she won. Her category was loaded with talent. She was up against Hunter Hayes (who went on to win Single by a New Artist and Music Video by a New Artist, both for "Wanted"), whose eponymous debut album has been certified gold and generated three Top 25 hits, including the No. 1 platinum-selling "Wanted." Then there was Kip Moore, whose first album produced three Top 45 country hits, including the No. 1 platinum-selling "Somethin' 'Bout A Truck." Jana Kramer, actress from "One Tree Hill," was also in the mix with her debut album and No. 3 gold-certified hit "Why Ya Wanna." But Alaina's biggest competition -- besides Hunter Hayes -- could have been the Pistol Annies, a trio of women with Miranda Lambert amongst them. That triad had a No. 5 album, Hell On Heels, a hit by the same name, and a song on the soundtrack to the tremendously popular movie "Hunger Games."

And yet, she prevailed. Her debut album, Wildflower, debuted a week after Scotty McCreery's first album, Clear As Day, was released. It has sold nearly 300,000 copies since its release (although it is certain to get a sales bump from Alaina's win), generating three Top 40 hits.

Former alums of "American Idol" did pretty well at the 3rd Annual American Country Awards, where country artist Luke Bryan dominated, taking home all seven awards for which he was nominated, including Artist of the Year. They won three of the six awards for which they were nominated. Carrie Underwood, who was nominated for four awards, took home Sing by a Vocal Collaboration (for her duet, "Remind Me," with Brad Paisley) and Female Artist of the Year. The latter award has never been presented to anyone else. Season 9's Casey James was nominated for Single by a New Artist for his debut single, "Let's Don't Call This A Night," but lost to the aforementioned Hunter Hayes.

But given the success of James' latest hit, "Crying On A Suitcase," he might be a candidate for the third New Artist award to be given next year...

"American Idol" returns to Fox Television on Jan. 16 for Season 12.

Take Home Message: Being a long shot and/or an underdog does not make you an also-ran while the race is being run. Never count yourself out of the running until the prize is awarded.

(photo credit: jramspott, Creative Commons)

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