A spoonful of pop music may help the medicine go down, but a handful of pop celebrities aren’t increasing the ratings on X Factor. Luckily for Fox, they still have American Idol in the bag. Ten years in, Idol is on the up and up. If you needed any proof, Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery – of the smooth vocal clan– debuted this week at number one on the Billboard Music Charts. He’s the last winning contestant to achieve such a feat since Reuben Studdard.

This Weekend Download Recommendations celebrates first albums, best performances, and a round of singles from some of Idol’s finest and a few in between. Stick around for a compelling list featuring shots at Chris Brown, hockey references, and a whole lot of eyeliner. Plus, a variety of music suggestions. Don’t forget to vote on the songs you love, America.

Weekend Download
Carrie Underwood “Before He Cheats”
I’m sure if someone had prophesied to Carrie Underwood one day the young woman from Chicotah, Oklahoma would be married to a Canadian hockey player, I have a feeling she would have scoffed. People don’t watch hockey in Oklahoma. Between Canadians and European players, I bet most NHL players don’t know where Oklahoma is. One American Idol competition, a Monique Lhuillier wedding dress, and several Grammys later – including some for “Before He Cheats” – the idea of Underwood marrying herself to a hockey player is a whole lot less preposterous. I’m sure Mike Fisher’s friends have made this joke over and over again, but I sure hope he thinks about “Before He Cheats” anytime he’s feeling like the wrong kind of playa.

Daughtry “What I Meant To Say”
Chris Daughtry’s band has sold more albums than Taylor Hicks, the winner of the Idol season that spawned Daughtry’s career. His sound favors a nineties post grunge intensity that had all but died out before Chris turned down a gig with Fuel and reappeared as Daughtry. The group’s first two albums have been hit machines, featuring the likes of “No Surprise” and “It’s Not Over.” Love them or hate them, those tracks have permeated chain restaurants across the country. If we were looking for something to show Chris Daughtry in his best vocal light, “What I Meant To Say” is the track to sit down with.

Jordin Sparks “Faith”
I know the correct answer here is “No Air” Feat. Chris Brown. “No Air” is the highest selling single from any American Idol contestant in current history. Just because Rihanna has forgiven Chris Brown and his high vocals doesn’t mean we all want to listen to his punk ass. “No Air” proves Sparks’ singles are well produced, but “Faith” proves Sparks is best when she lets her pretty little voice warble all on its own.

Adam Lambert “Whataya Want From Me”
“Whataya Want From Me” was a modest hit for the Idol loser. Even so, you need to win for bigger budget support in the music video market. A loss means a video full of quick cut-to shots, featuring Lambert lunging at cameras and walking around gardens and occasionally ignoring his own backup band. “Whataya Want From Me” is a song worth hearing but not a video worth watching, unless you need some help consciously putting on layers and layers of eyeliner. In that instance, “Whataya Want From Me” is an expert resource.

Weekend Download
Kelly Clarkson Breakaway
I know a lot of people would have loved to see Underwood’s Some Hearts on here, but VH1 recently put Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” on its “Greatest Songs of the 2000s” list and you can’t argue with VH1, even though they’ve replaced funny comedian commentators for douches from the network’s reality shows. Some of those douches know wassup, and have proclaimed Clarkson’s sophomore album Breakaway to be an album everyone should own. So go forth and own it.

Scotty McCreery Clear As Day
It’s strange to hear a young man with such a grownup voice talking about young love, girl problems, not being quite a man, and growing up in the Bible Belt. Perhaps 18 year-old Scotty McCreery’s not quite old enough to appeal to every audience, but in his debut, his voice can still melt butter. That’s enough to leave fans hoping for second helpings.

Weekend Download
Constantine Maroulis and Rock of Ages Do “Don’t Stop Believin’”
I did promise dancing. Too bad Dee Snider didn’t stick around for more than an 11 week run.

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