This time, the record buying audience agreed with the American Idol voting audience.

In its second week of release, American Idol 3 winner Fantasia's J Records single 'I Believe' / 'Chain of Fools' retained the #1 spot on the Nielsen SoundScan U.S. Singles Sales chart, selling 81,000 copies for a total of 224,000 since its release. Meanwhile, Idol 3 runner-up Diana DeGarmo's RCA Records single 'Dreams' / 'Don't Cry Out Loud' debuted with sales of 65,000 copies, only good enough for second place.

A panel of experts put together by MTV predicted that Fantasia (who has dropped her last name of Barrino) would have the better-selling single in this year's Idol showdown, and their judgment was proven correct this week. Fantasia's triumph contrasts with the aftermath of Idol 2, where runner-up Clay Aiken consistently outsold winner Ruben Studdard after their singles were released.

However, the result this week continues to be worrisome for the American Idol franchise, due to the decline in the number of units sold by the Idol 3 finalists. Fantasia's two-week sales total has yet to reach the first-week total for the debuts of either Clay (393,000) or Ruben (286,000). Meanwhile, Diana's sales, while far in excess of the normal 20,000 or so recorded by most non-Idol #1 singles, can only be considered disappointing after Idol 2's success.

Diana's single fails to join the six Idol singles with sales of over 100,000 copies in their official debut weeks. Unless either 'Dreams' or 'Don't Cry Out Loud' catch on with radio stations, the chances for a full-fledged Diana DeGarmo CD have become slimmer.

We note that Desmond Child, who co-wrote Diana's 'Dreams' as well as Clay's promo-only single 'Invisible', also co-wrote Ricky Martin's 'She Bangs', which has found new life in a now-infamous audition version by Idol 3 reject William Hung. It would be ironic -- but, after these sales figures, not unexpected -- if 'She Bangs' became Desmond Child's best-selling contribution to Idol 3.

Note, by the way, that Desmond Child's advice to aspiring songwriters is, "Dare to suck and put your music out there, and just keep on going." On that note, we look forward to Fox's American Idol 4 starting in January 2005.