Two ‘American Idol’ Stars Wrote the Top 3’s Chart-Climbing Songs

Megan Danielle, Iam Tongi, Colin Stough

Heavy/ABC "American Idol" Season 21 Top 3 Megan Danielle, Iam Tongi, and Colin Stough

Though it wasn’t mentioned on the show, two former “American Idol” finalists are behind the first singles released by Season 21’s Top 3 finalists Colin Stough, runner-up Megan Danielle, and winner Iam Tongi. Before the season finale on May 21, 2023, the three singers — along with Top 5 contestants Wé Ani and Zachariah Smith — each got to select and record a song to be produced and released by record label 19 Entertainment, the company that signs each “Idol” winner — and, occasionally, other promising contestants — to a record deal.

The song Danielle chose, “Dream Girl,” was co-written by songwriter Logan Wall and rising country artist Laci Kaye Booth, who placed fifth on “Idol” in 2019. Meanwhile, Stough and Tongi selected ballads that were both written by 2020 Top 5 finalist Francisco Martin.

Billboard, which tracks sales and airplay of songs in the U.S., just revealed 10 first-time artists that are landing on its coveted hit charts as of June 3, and all three of the Season 21 finalists are on it thanks to their singles written by Booth and Martin.

Laci Kaye Booth Regrouped After a Wild 2022 & Co-Wrote Megan Danielle’s New Song

Laci Kaye Booth

GettyLaci Kaye Booth attends the 2023 CMT Music Awards on April 2, 2023

Booth is a longtime fan favorite who has appeared on “Idol” multiple times since she was a contestant. In fact, she and Season 17 winner Laine Hardy, with whom she became good friends on the show, stopped by the Season 21 auditions to chat with starstruck contestants and judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie.

When Perry asked Booth if she was still glad for her “Idol” journey, the 27-year-old exclaimed, “It changed my whole entire life!”

After “Idol,” the country singer-songwriter moved to Nashville and signed her first record deal with Big Machine Records and its partner, 19 Recordings, in August 2020. She released her debut album in August 2021, featuring what she described as her “dreamy country” sound on eight tracks, all of which she co-wrote.

In early 2022, Booth was stunned when CMT named her one its 10 “Next Women of Country,” featuring her on billboards and at events as a rising star in country music. But later that year, Big Machine dropped Booth from its label, which she told Entertainment Focus was humiliating at first but wound up giving her more creative control over her sound. She also ended her relationship of five years and proceeded to reinvent herself as a newly single, independent singer-songwriter in Nashville.

Booth told Entertainment Focus that she’s still able to work with 19 Recordings, though it’s not clear in what capacity, and said, “They give me all the freedom to do what I want to with my music.” In fact, they helped her release a new single, “Damn Good in a Dive Bar,” late last year.

Booth spent the end of 2022 writing, recording, and — per Country Now — touring with country artist Blanco Brown as well as Season 20 “American Idol” winner Noah Thompson and runner-up HunterGirl, who are both 19 Recording artists. With countless songs written, she was able to hand over “Dream Girl,” which 2023 runner-up Danielle chose as the single she wanted to perform on “Idol” and release ahead of the finale.

In an Instagram video filmed at Sound Factory in Los Angeles, a famous recording studio where the single was recorded and produced, Danielle explained why she chose the song.

“‘Dream Girl’ just means just sharing a positive message with everyone because I feel like everyone can go through these dark times and it’s just a reminder that you can keep tracing your dream and keep going,” she explained.

After being released on May 19, the song debuted on the June 3 Billboard charts at Number 11 in Country Digital Song Sales and Number 48 on the Digital Song Sales chart, with 2,000 downloads sold.

Francisco Martin Has Written Songs for Multiple ‘Idol’ Alumni

Like Booth, Martin has gone through many ups and downs in the music business since landing in the Top 5 on Season 18 of “American Idol.” The Filipino-American singer-songwriter has had some success with his own music, including his single “Swollen,” which has amassed six million streams on Spotify, according to ABS-CBN. He released a new single, “Passenger Princess,” in March via 19 Recordings, including a music video that’s racked up 114,000 views.

In addition to his own recording career, Martin has co-written multiple songs for “Idol” alumni including “Blurry Vision” for Season 19 fourth-place contestant Casey Bishop, released in the fall of 2022, and he’s written singles “Hearts Align” and “Caroline” for Season 20 Top 5 contestant Fritz Hager, who told Starry Mag that Martin a “dope collaborator.”

According to American Songwriter, Martin sat down with Tongi to hear his story first-hand of losing his dad in December 2021 in order to write the emotional ballad “I’ll Be Seeing You.” Tongi told the outlet that the result is a song that feels like he’s hearing his dad let him know that “no matter what happens, where he goes, he’s going to be with me in my heart and in my mind and through the memories.”

In his Instagram Stories on May 24, Martin shared a snippet of the single and wrote, “Proud to have played a small part in this man’s journey so far. Let’s go @wtongi!”

The song is already a hit, debuting at Number 1 on Billboard’s Rock Digital Song Sales, and third on the Digital Song Sales list, with 11,000 downloads sold. It also skyrocketed to the top of the iTunes charts, per KHON2.

Meanwhile, the country song Martin co-wrote with Hank Compton, per Taste of Country, that Stough wound up recording for his debut single, “I Still Talk to Jesus,” is particularly meaningful for Martin.

On his Instagram Stories, also on May 24, Martin wrote, “I don’t even have the words to express what this song means to me. When I was asked to share this one I said no…then I heard this man sing. @colinstough, thank you for what you’ve done to this record. It’s even more powerful now then it was when we wrote it.”

The visualizer video for the song has 276,000 views, and debuted at Number 5 on Billboard’s Country Digital Song Sales chart and Number 18 in Digital Song Sales with 4,000 downloads sold.

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