American Idol Live! is a testament to how much smaller American Idol gets every year as a cultural institution. Don't get me wrong — it's still big. Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips' debut single is still ubiquitous. But at the show's peak, being a runner-up was its own way to pop stardom. Even Clay Aiken, one of the least obvious stars of the past decade, didn't actually have to win to pick up a radio hit. That made Idol Live!, the concert tour featuring each season's finalists, a big deal itself. The Top 10 were all possible stars, with their own hyper-devoted Idol fiefdoms. This year, in a finale watched by just 14 million fans, Candice Glover — she's the winner, the first in years who isn't a gravelly voiced guy with an acoustic guitar in years — beat Kree Harrison. Glover's first album won't come out for a few months, but her debut single peaked at 93 on the Hot 100. A few years ago, Idol Live! could attract TV fans — people who were interested in watching all the singers they'd heard about for months. Now it's for American Idol fans. There are fewer of those than there used to be, but they'll probably fill Comerica Theatre anyway.
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