‘American Idol’: Why Fans Can’t Stand How They Treated One Winner

Over the years, American Idol has produced some massive superstars. Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have gone on to become some of the biggest names in the music industry, both pulling in multiple awards and having many successful albums. The success of early winners of the show not only contributed to the show’s popularity, but it also made it a promising opportunity for aspiring singers.

Things have changed at American Idol, though. Ratings are dwindling, it’s been years since a winner has gone on to have any notable success, and now, the show’s treatment of a recent winner, Maddie Poppe, has fans crying foul.

‘American Idol’ has struggled to achieve success for its winners

Madde Poppe | Christopher Polk/E! Entertainment/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Putting Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson aside, some of the most successful contestants coming out of American Idol never won the show. In fact, of the top 10 American Idol contestants with the highest net worths, only three won the show: Underwood, Clarkson, and Jordin Sparks.

Previous winners on the show have struggled to stay relevant, let alone have any widespread success. Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips is arguably the last winner to get any sort of attention after the show ended and unless you’re a fan of the show, there’s a good chance you have never heard the name of any of the show’s recent winners. Though the show was once a viable entry into the music industry, it seems the show may have prioritized its own success over the success of its contestants.

‘American Idol’ contestants and fans are fighting back

So just why are fans crying foul over how the show is treating season 16 winner Poppe? For starters, Poppe was not asked to perform on the season 17 finale. This is completely out of character for the show and shows a lack of support for the singer. In previous seasons, the show has invited the previous season’s winner back to perform in the finale and promote their upcoming album.

Speaking of albums, Poppe just released a new one. But fans of Idol wouldn’t know that by watching the show. While last season’s third-place finisher, Gabby Barrett performed on the show and plugged her upcoming album, Poppe didn’t get the same opportunity. Though she performed a duet with her boyfriend and season 16 finalist, Caleb Hutchinson, she was unable to promote her album because the show “ran out of time.”

Fans took to social media crying that the show was acting like Poppe never existed. The singer also expressed her concerns, writing on Twitter, “Was waiting for ‘ALSO from last week, our Season 16 winner has an album coming out May 17th.'”

Is winning ‘American Idol’ worth it?

It’s often said that not winning American Idol is one of the best things that can happen to you. While it may seem that walking away with the grand prize would be the clearest path to stardom, there are many things going on behind the scenes that don’t always make this true.

In 2015, season 11 winner, Phillips filed a complaint against 19 Entertainment, seeking to void the contracts that he had signed with Idol. Phillips claimed that the show made him perform for free, didn’t tell him the name of his album until after it was released, and withheld information relating to his career.

Phillips isn’t the only one that has revealed details about Idol’s seemingly unreasonable contracts. In 2017, Clarkson revealed some of the terms of her contract. Clarkson told radio host Howard Stern that her contract with RCA required her to do six studio albums. Clarkson just met that obligation in 2015, 13 years after winning American Idol! Once her contract was over, she moved over to Atlantic Records.