American Idol: Ranking the Seven Winners
On the heels of David Cook's maybe/sort of surprise American Idol victory, why not jump the gun and see where he stacks up against all the other American Idol champions?  In a preliminary ranking like this, how does one base their judgments.  We haven't seen what David Cook is going to do with his first album, if he's going to form a band, if he'll go solo, or how much creative control he'll be given out of the gate.  Still, there's nothing wrong with premature speculation.  David Cook, it seems to me, is poised for a commercial breakthrough in a way that David Archuleta would not have been.  He has broad appeal, and might actually produce some good songs. 

I've based these rankings on both personal preference and relative success. 

1. Carrie Underwood

I think it's safe to say that Underwood has taken over the reins from Clarkson as the most successful Idol alum ever.  Clarkson may very well have a renaissance, and will surely be around for years to come, but right now it's all Underwood.  She's a force on the country music scene, producing hit after hit.

2. Kelly Clarkson

She's the original idol.  Her breakthrough post-idol success paved the way for subsequent Idol winners and is one of the big reasons why American Idol is what it is.  She's leveled off a bit lately after a disappointing third album, both creatively and commercially, but as I said, she has lots of time to return to the limelight.

3. David Cook

Yep, I've got David Cook third.  Depending on where he goes with his first album, and how much influence he has in its content, I could see him very easily having Daughtry level success.  If he turns out to be a quality song writer, Cook could be commercially viable for a long time. 

4. Ruben Studdard

Ruben has had a pretty solid post-Idol career, but no one would argue that he's set the world on fire.  I don't see him all of sudden pumping out hit records in the future, but you never know.

5. Fantasia Barrino

I was wavering between Fantasia and Jordin here, but Fantasia has at least shown some staying power.  Plus, it appears that she can have a career on Broadway whenever she feels like it. 

6. Jordin Sparks

I guess she's been getting some play on the radio and MTV with some of her recent singles, but everything I've heard has been only so-so.  The jury is still out, and we'll know a lot more after her second record comes along. 

7. Taylor Hicks

Was there any doubt?  Taylor Hicks was never going to be a commercial success, but it's not his fault – he just isn't the right type of singer.  He'll be doing his thing at clubs, county fairs, casinos and bars for the next few decades, and happily so.

-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of FOX)