When Ryan Seacrest announced Caleb Johnson's name as the 2014 winner of "American Idol," the 23-year-old rocker not only became the third North Carolinian to take home the title. His Season 13 win only solidified the South's hold on the show and gave the region its fourth consecutive victory.
As The Inquistr reported May 22, Caleb Johnson was the first true rocker to win on "American Idol." Now, some will argue that Season 7 winner David Cook was a rocker and, to an extent, that would be correct. But he was more of an alternative rock performer. "American Idol" 2014 winner Caleb Johnson, though, was an all-out retro assault, bringing to the stage songs from Whitesnake, Journey, The Black Crowes, Led Zeppelin, and, for the first time in "Idol" history, Rush.
The Asheville native's win wasn't just the third win from an artist from North Carolina, it was the tenth win overall for singers from the American South.
Here's how they line up: Along with Caleb, Fantasia Barrino (Season 3) and Scotty McCreery (Season 10) hail from the Tarheel State. Last year's winner, Candice Glover is from the lower Carolina. Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips is from Georgia. Season 8 winner Kris Allen is from Arkansas. Two winners are Alabama natives: Taylor Hicks (Season 5) and Ruben Studdard (Season 2). And two more are from Texas: Season 7's David Cook and the first winner, Kelly Clarkson.
Some who look at the geography also include Carrie Underwood (Season 4 winner), who is from Oklahoma. Although Oklahoma isn't usually considered a southern state, it is part of the Southwest, so some will occasionally blur the lines and include her in the mix. Still, even without Carrie Underwood, ten out of thirteen is an impressive number.
Still, the only true outsiders among the winners have been Season 6's Jordin Sparks (from Arizona) and Season 9's Lee DeWyze (from Illinois).
The South is only one off the pace in the runners-up category as well, pulling in six finalists to finish in that position. Season 1's Justin Guarini is from Georgia, as was Season 10's Lauren Alaina. Season 3's Diana DeGarmo and Season 12's Kree Harrison are from Texas. Season 4's Bo Bice is from Alabama. And lastly, Season 2 placed another citizen of North Carolina in the running: Clay Aiken.
The state of North Carolina has had a good bit of success on "American Idol," not only boasting three winners and a runner-up, but they also lay claim to Chris Daughtry (Season 5), who is the third most successful "Idol" contestant (in terms of overall album sales) in the show's history, trailing only Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. Also from North Carolina are country stars Kellie Pickler (Season 5) and Bucky Covington (Season 5).
Of the ten most successful "American Idol" finalists ever (in terms of U. S. album sales), eight are from the South (nine if one counts Underwood). Jennifer Hudson, who is from Chicago, Illinois, is the only member of that club not from the South. That group includes: Clarkson, Daughtry, Barrino, Studdard, Aiken, McCreery, Cook, and Pickler.
No doubt Caleb Johnson is hoping to add his name to that list of gold and platinum-selling "Idol" alums. The 2014 winner's debut album is scheduled to hit stores in August.
"American Idol" returns in January for Season 14.