The year 2012 not only brought on the excitement of the Olympics in Britain but also the excitement of counting down the world's demise via the Mayan calendar prophecies. But there was plenty of other things to entertain the people with, like new music from "American Idol" finalists. Quite a few, in fact, including a first holiday album by a season winner and a first greatest hits album by an alumnus.
The year in albums started off with a brand new album from Kellie Pickler. The North Carolina singer released her third collection of country songs, 100 Proof, on Jan. 24.
Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard followed with Letter From Birmingham on March 13. And, like it has been for many of their releases, his runner-up and good friend Clay Aiken also released an album within a short period of time (March 26).
March turned out to be a big month for "Idol" releases. Six days before Aiken released Steadfast, his sixth studio album (the most of any alum), Season 9 third-place finisher Casey James posted his eponymous debut album. Season 5's third placer Elliott Yamin dropped Lets' Get To What's Real, his fifth album, on March 27.
Carrie Underwood, the much awarded and soon to be the voice of Maria von Trapp in "The Sound of Music," released her fourth album, Blown Away, her third No. 1 Billboard 200 topper and her fourth album to reach platinum status, the first "American Idol" alum to achieve such distinction, although Kelly Clarkson's Stronger, which was released in October 2011, would also achieve platinum certification a couple weeks later (also her fourth such title to do so).
Trespassing, Adam Lambert's much-anticipated sophomore set, was released two weeks after Underwood's and also hit the No. 1 spot. This marked the first time two "American Idol" finalists had charted No. 1 albums back-to-back, as Blown Away stayed at No. 1 for two straight weeks.
The guy that bested Lambert for the Season 8 title, Kris Allen, dropped his sophomore collection of songs, Thank You Camellia, on May 22. That same day, Season 10 third-placer Haley Reinhart released her first album, Listen Up!
Season 10's sixth-place finalist Casey Abrams dropped his self-titled debut album in June.
David Archuleta, the Season 7 runner-up to David Cook, released his fourth studio album, Begin., in August.
The first ever holiday album by an "American Idol" season winner dropped on Oct. 16. Christmas with Scotty McCreery, the second studio album from the Season 10 winner, hit the stores with a bunch of holiday favorites as well as a couple of new songs for the album. The album was also the first holiday album released by one of the show's many country artist alums.
Kelly Clarkson became the first "Idol" winner to release a greatest hits album (Greatest Hits: Chapter One) on Nov. 16.
Another of the more anticipated "Idol" albums of the year hit stores in mid-November. Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips released The World from the Side of the Moon, the album containing the biggest selling coronation single ("Home") of any "Idol" winner in the show's history, on Nov. 19.
"Idol" albums were everywhere this year, being dropped like they weren't going to ever release another. And that's great news for 'Idol" music fans. So if you've got an "Idol" fan in the house that still needs some filler for the Christmas stocking -- or you want to reward yourself for the holiday -- there are certainly plenty of albums to choose from. And, again, don't worry that you didn't pick up a copy while out shopping. Just go to the artist(s) respective website(s) and conveniently download their 2012 (or perhaps other albums from their catalogs) via MP3.
"American Idol" itself will return for its twelfth season premiere on Jan. 16.
(photo credit: American Idol, Fremantle North America, Fox Television)