Looks like you can't keep the former Idols down -- even the ones who didn't reach the finals.

American Idol 1 fifth-place finisher RJ Helton has released a new Christian-themed CD entitled Real Life on the GospoCentric/B-Rite label. The album, which came out on March 23, debuted at #14 on Billboard's Christian Music chart.

RJ is scheduled to appear on Thursday's results show to perform "Even If," the CD's first single ... although the status of his appearance is uncertain now that Fox has cut the Thursday results show, which will start at 8 PM EDT, down to 30 minutes. The change was made so that Tru Calling (featuring Tamyra Gray) can begin at 8:30 and hopefully keep some of the Idol viewers from switching to the last 30 minutes of CBS's Survivor: All-Stars or the start of NBC's The Apprentice at 9.

In addition, according to MTV, RJ has now signed a management deal with Mathew Knowles, the manager of Destiny's Child and the manager and father of Beyoncé and Solange Knowles.

RJ thus joins fellow Idol also-rans Tamyra Gray and Kimberley Locke in managing to keep themselves viable in the music business even though new crops of Idol-wannabes keep parading before the public. We wish them all luck in proving that they aren't just "karaoke singers," as some critics insist.

One note: in an interview on Gospel City, RJ says that he went to the auditions for the first American Idol in Atlanta the night before and was actually the first person in line to be auditioned. We mention this only because we have poked fun at people waiting overnight to audition for reality shows ... but RJ's experience shows that the strategy may actually have merit.