Kissing Cousins: 'American Idol' and Country Music
American Idol's ten-year lock on pop culture, combined with the pop influence that has dominated country music for the past decade, has created a perfect storm of opportunities for new singers looking to try their hand at country. Although Carrie Underwood is the reigning queen when it comes to combining the two, she wasn't the first contestant to "go country." That honor belongs to Season 2 contestant Josh Gracin.
From that point on, there have always been one or two contestants willing to make their country bias known; others take the path of Danny Gokey, who, after spending most of Season 7 showing off his blue-eyed soul skills, went on to surprise us with a full country album, 2010's My Best Days. As for the most recent, just-concluded season, winner Scotty McCreery and runner-up Lauren Alaina both let their love for country lead their song choices right off the bat. Here's a playlist refresher on some past contestants who've thrown their hat into the ring of twang. Some, sad to say, are more memorable than others.