American Idol barely had any country contenders in the beginning, but it has since become a farm team for Nashville labels. The 2005 winner, Carrie Underwood, has already sold nearly 5 million copies of her debut album, Some Hearts, which returns to No. 1 on Billboard's country albums chart this week some 62 weeks after its release.
Kellie Pickler -- a 2006 finalist -- returns to the Top 10 with Small Town Girl, following her endearing two-day substitution for Barbara Walters on The View. (One of Pickler's Idol competitors, Chris Daughtry, takes the No.1 spot on the Billboard 200, which tracks all genres, with his band's self-titled debut rock album, Daughtry.)
And there's more: Pickler's sassy "Red High Heels" struts to No. 15 on the country airplay chart. Underwood's new single, "Wasted," leaps to No. 25. Josh Gracin, a second-season finalist, ascends to No. 34 with "I Keep Coming Back," a track from his forthcoming album. Another 2006 American Idol finalist, Bucky Covington, is rolling with "A Different World," which moves to No. 47 in its second week of release.