"This show is about finding a star," he says.
American Idol has hit some sour notes, something that Wednesday night's two finalists understand.
"I think a lot of people see this show as a golden ticket and I don't think that's the case," David Cook said.
And David Archuletta: "You know, now you have to show how you can handle what's given to you."
Past winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood made it big - selling nearly 10 million albums apiece, and taking home Grammys. But other "Idol" winners' music careers have become, well, idle, CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports.
"Once they're no longer on TV every week you kinda forget about them and then they're back on the same playing field with everyone else whose trying to become a pop star," Caryn Ganz, who covers "American Idol" for Rolling Stone magazine.
Critics say the fact that someone like Hicks won the show but flopped at the record store is evidence that it's more a personality contest than one based on real talent.
Chris Daughtry lost to Hicks, but his debut album has gone multi-platinum. He's aware some think Idol contestants get a free ride to stardom.
"A lot of it comes across as great karaoke singers, it doesn't, you know, you don't know their background, you don't know how long they've been actually doing it," Hicks said.
"Idol" producers wouldn't comment on the show's track record, but last year one judge put it this way:
"Listen, it's just a reality show, people have to get over themselves," Randy Jackson said.
Even if the reality is that a lot of the Idol fame … is fleeting.