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American Idol finalists

'Idol' Worship

IdolIt's hard to avoid the "American Idol" phenomenon these days, what with season one winner Kelly Clarkson's debut album recently hitting No. 1 on The Billboard 200 and the Fox reality show enjoying strong ratings. This week, RCA releases "American Idol 2," a 13-track collection featuring this year's finalists performing solo and with one another.

The album includes the finalists collaborating on Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A.," the Burt Bacharach-penned "What the World Needs Now," and Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed." Also featured are Ruben Studdard's version of the Carpenters' hit "Superstar," Clay Aiken's rendition of Jeffrey Osborne's "On the Wings of Love," Trenyce's cover of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together," and Kimberley Locke's take on the classic "Over the Rainbow."

"TV may not be the greatest artist-development tool, but it's the greatest publicity machine in the world," says Tom Ennis of 19 Entertainment, which manages a number of the "Idol" contestants. "The business we are in is to help nurture the talent we find along the way." Adds Clarkson, "People don't realize that the finalists saw it as a competition in which we were upping the game for our individual selves. You can't compare us to Reba McEntire or Aretha Franklin, but we had fun."