‘American Idol’ winner Caleb Johnson said his winning single was ‘shit’

In an interview with Insider tied to the reality competition series’ 20th anniversary, Johnson slammed her debut single, calling it “cheesy shit.”
“Idol” finalists often perform new, previously unreleased songs during the show’s final weeks. Winners will often release the original song after the series ends, including hits like Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This” and Phillip Phillips’ “Home.”

But Johnson’s single didn’t have the same success as those songs. He said he argued with the producers to change the song, knowing that the winner of the season would have to sing it in the final episode and possibly record it.

“If you won, you had to sing the song, and the song was just plain crap,” Johnson told Insider. “Like, it was just the worst song ever.”

Johnson later recorded the song as his “winning single”, although he told Insider it was almost identical to a 2012 song that a finalist on the South African version of the show had released.

Johnson, a native of Asheville, North Carolina, appeared on the show’s 13th season, which aired in 2014. Featuring renditions of “Sympathy for the Devil” and “The Edge of Glory,” he appeared that season there as a unique rock singer. He then released two albums, the most recent in 2019, with “Born From Southern Ground”.

“American Idol” has produced several notable winners over its past 20 years, including Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Fantasia Barrino, among others. Contestants who didn’t win but went on to achieve mainstream fame include Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert and Katherine McPhee.