What happenened
Within the past three weeks, three former American Idol contestants have been dropped by their record labels—Taylor Hicks, winner of the show’s fifth season; Katherine McPhee, who was runner-up that same season; and Ruben Studdard, winner of season two—leaving critics to wonder whether or not the show is still capable of launching pop music careers.

What the commentators said
“After all these years, is the sheen finally coming off American Idol?” said Guy Dixon in The Globe and Mail. Sure, “former contestants Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson may be living the superstar dream,” but more recent contestants like McPhee and Hicks certainly aren’t.

Maybe they just didn’t have what it takes to make it in the real music world, said Jonathan Zipper in the blog Hollywood Today. Chris Daughtry was the “fourth place runner-up” during the same season that Hicks won, but Daughtry “has made claims on a slew of accolades in the past year, with a handful of big wins at the American Music Awards.” Daughtry and his band are even “nominated in four Grammy categories, including Best Rock Song and Best Rock Album.”

All this demonstrates is “how fickle we are as a nation of fans,” said Beth Gaston Moon in the blog BloggingStocks. “It was only about 18 months ago” that Hicks was enthusiastically “crowned the winner of American Idol” and already the public is sick of him. But it might have a negative effect on the TV show, too: “The sometimes-modest success of the winner” could “reduce the audience’s enthusiasm.”