Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery Release First Albums, Lead Pack Of 'Idol' Holiday Releases

After ten seasons of "American Idol," year-end album releases have become common from the winners and runners-up. But releases from other Idols and "Idol" finalists have also become commonplace leading into the holidays. This year's set of new releases begins with the drop of Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina's first albums.

October, which is the Country Music Association has proclaimed as country music month, kicked off its 2011 edition with two of the genre's newest artists releasing albums. They also happen to be the newest alumni from "American Idol." Scotty McCreery, the Season 10 winner, and Lauren Alaina, his second-place challenger, both released albums, setting the stage for the release of a slew of "American Idol" albums to be released in time for the holidays.

As has been the pattern in years past, the contestants from the latest season of "American Idol" dropped albums early enough to try and cash in on their television success (not to mention the subsequent promotion via the "Live Tour") and hopefully late enough to try cashing in on the holiday gift-buying season.

Scotty McCreery got things rolling with his first release, "Clear As Day," on October 4. It has sold (and pre-sold) so well that Billboard prognosticators have already dubbed it the No. 1 album in the country (which means it will also debut at the top of the Billboard Country Albums chart). His is the first debut studio album from an "American Idol" winner to hit No. 1 since Season 2 winner Ruben Studdard did it in 2003. In fact, he's only the third to do it at all (Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson hit the top spot in 2002).

Lauren Alaina released her first album, "Wildflower," on October 11, a little less than a month shy of her seventeenth birthday. If sales go as they have been for her album as they have for her other releases with respect to McCreery, she just might hit No. 1 as well (although her sales numbers might be somewhat lower).

Alaina and McCreery will have some Season 10 company on the charts come late November as well. James Durbin, the California rocker that brought Zakk Wylde and Judas Priest to the "American Idol" stage before he finished in fourth place, will release his first album, "Memories of a Beautiful Disaster," on the 21st.

It is as yet uncertain as to whether or not third place finalist Haley Reinhart and ninth spot finisher Pia Toscano will release their albums before the year's end, but it is known that they have been working on their first releases as well.

Regardless, "Clear As Day" and "Wildflower" will have plenty of "American Idol" company. Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson, hot off the chart-topping success of "Don't You Wanna Stay?" with country rocker Jason Aldean, is scheduled to release her fifth offering, "Stronger," on October 24. Josh Gracin (fourth place, Season 2), who has made a name for himself in country music since his "Idol" appearance, is scheduled to release his third album, "Redemption," on November 1. Daughtry, fronted by Season 5's fourth place rocker Chris Daughtry, is set to drop "Break The Spell," the band's third album, on November 21. Both Kelly Picker (sixth place, Season 5) and Jordin Sparks (Season 6 winner) are also expected to release albums before Christmas.

(photo credit: jramspott, Creative Commons)