What came from that decision speaks directly to the point I wanted to make when I decided to write about the show in the first place. American Idol is regularly dismissed as a cheap and easy way for someone to "win" a career in music. Is it, though? For one thing, you don't win a career; you win the opportunity to release one album. Music history is littered with countless acts who had one shot to release an album and made nothing else of it, and the majority of them didn't have the stigma of being a "contest winner" who hasn't paid enough dues to be earning a living playing music. Carrying that burden just makes your chances of succeeding all the more slim. For every Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood who managed to actually develop a successful music career, there are twice as many Taylor Hickses and David Cooks we'll most likely never hear from again.