The (B)icing on the cake?

Taylor Hicks’ debut album is streaming over at VH1, so the question on all our minds has been answered. No, not who the Others are and what their quasi-nefarious plan is. No, not even whether Mr. Bennet is working on the side of good or of evil. No, the question that’s been first and foremost on the minds of Taylor Hicks fans, at least when it came to his album, has always been: how bad will Taylor get Biced?

For those of you scratching your head and going “duh, what’s a Biced?”, heh, don’t worry. It’s a relatively short and simple story. Bo Bice, the amazing Southern rocker who came in second place on last season’s American Idol, was widely regarded to be Clive’s favorite out of the top three contestants (Carrie Underwood, the eventual winner, and Vonzell Solomon rounded out the trio). During the final three’s show, Clive was a guest judge and told Bo Bice that no matter the outcome of the competition, he and Bo were going to have a great time “making a very special album together.” Yeah, it sounded just a little creepy at the time, but also very, very cool: Southern rock, y’all! From Idol, no less! But, alas, the story did not have a happy ending. Bo’s artistic vision wound up being drowned out by Clive’s desire for pop-schlock rock, and the end result was the infamous “The Real Thing” (not to mention Bo’s newly shiny–and strange–hair).

The fear, naturally, was that Taylor’s album would meet the same fate. Just how watered-down would the Soulman’s release be? Would the pop outweigh the grit? Would the Rob Thomas drown out the Ray Charles?

Well, I’ve listened to the album several times now, and my feelings are mixed. Oh, Taylor’s there, all right, loud and clear. But it seems to me that he shines through more clearly on some tracks than others. The album does have its share of “damn, that was a good song!” moments, but it’s also got more than its share of conventional pop filler. And then there are one or two songs that seem to come right out of left field (“Give Me Tonight,” I am looking at YOU.)

Taylor insists up and down, left and right, that every track on this album bears the 100% Grade-A Certified Taylor Hicks seal of approval. While that may be so, Taylor himself has admitted that on this first album, there might be more give than take (I promise, it’s all in context):

Let’s not beat around the bush – I gotta sell a bunch of them. There are two sides to this, there’s music and then there’s the music business and I’ve got to play both parts. I’m in that game now. I have to make a good album and I have to make it fast…There may be more give than take on the first go round. My sophomore release will have more “original” music. In the past year I simply haven’t had the time to sit down and write music.

And now, presenting…a tangent.

No album can be made perfect in the middle of the whirlwind that is American Idol. Sure, some great albums, notably The Black Keys’ Thickfreakness (WHICH YOU SHOULD ALL BUY) were recorded in under a day. But you and I both know that Clive ain’t gonna stand for none of them jam-band-style bursts of creativity, because that sort of thing is dangerous in the mainstream music industry. Creativity produces unusual results. It makes people think. It makes people listen, question, seek out new sources, new styles, new genres…many of which may not, in fact, come from under Sony/BMG’s umbrella. No, Taylor’s got to reel them in and keep them on this album, and unfortunately, the best way to do that is to shroud him in an air of familiarity: “he sounds kind of like Artist X, and I like Artist X, so maybe I should go buy his album.” Once you’ve got them for the first album, they’re more likely to be a lock for the second, when at least a certain percentage of the sales are assured, and the creativity isn’t so dangerous.

Keep that in mind. And give the album a chance. It’s not so bad, and you’ll walk away with at least three or four tracks you really like. A full track-by-track review (or “opinion piece,” really, as I prefer to call them) will be forthcoming.


11 Responses to “The (B)icing on the cake?”

  1. 1 baxter December 5, 2006 at 10:42 pm

    Kat- Just wanted to say I think you are doing a great job with your blog. Keep it up. I visit everyday for a different opinion about the Idols.

    ps- Good Luck on your exams!!! :)

  2. 2 idolicious December 5, 2006 at 11:24 pm

    Aww, that’s sweet! Thanks! And thanks for the kind wishes!

  3. 3 Em December 5, 2006 at 11:52 pm

    Beware the claw of Clive. I sort of picture it like one of the Dementor hands. That’s also a good reference for the soul-sucking. Hey! What if Clive IS a Dementor?

  4. 4 Shut Up Kate December 6, 2006 at 11:39 am

    *whispers* notmycupoftea, is that you?

    Great blog, BTW. I love the way you put your thoughts together – a very interesting read.

  5. 5 idolicious December 6, 2006 at 11:41 am

    *whispers back* Yes, it’s me. No need to whisper though, really. I was already “exposed” by a rabid pack of Kat Phans. Crack journalists, all of them!

    Thanks for the compliments–please stick around–and BTW, I’m looking for guest authors over the holidays if you’re interested. Open topic!

  6. 6 PennyW December 6, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    Idolicious….Great “article”! Do you do this for a living?

    I feel the same way you do about THAT song. Ugh.

  7. 7 idolicious December 6, 2006 at 1:10 pm

    Ha, I only wish I got paid to write for my useless little hobby. ;-)

  8. 8 Shut Up Kate December 6, 2006 at 1:23 pm

    HA! That’s just awesome! Rabid, indeed.

    I’ll definitely be sticking around. And I’ll keep that in mind, though my days of decent wordsmithing seem to be long gone.

  9. 9 cathy hancock December 6, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    This is a well positioned review. I happen to like what Taylor has done on this CD. There is one song that I find less appealing than the others, but Taylor has done what he said he would do……….record womp music, be consistent, compromise and still maintain his artistic integrity. I think he has achieved all of these on , what is a studio recording. Taylor’s real appeal to many is his improvisation and gutteral abilities, which will shine in Live Performances of these songs. Not only give the CD a chance , but make sure you see this young man in person…he is a tremendous entertainer with mucical chops.

  10. 10 Roar January 6, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Did “Biced” replace the term “Guarini’d?”

  11. 11 idolicious January 7, 2007 at 12:22 pm

    Heh, yeah, I think it did ;-)

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December 2006
« Nov   Jan »

What the kids are sayin’

"I hate them all. The judges, TPTB, the blatant manipulation, the songs, the contestants, everything. I'm a die-hard Cook fan, but for the love of god, at least try to look like you're enjoying yourself up there! Please? Syesha was awesome but she ruined it by being completely shameless and disgusting. Yes, being on American Idol is exactly like the civil rights movement, except for the part where you're fighting to make the world a better place."

"All I can say after the disgusting display tonight of favoritism towards the mediocrity that is David A. - good luck trying to market and make money off of that kid, American Idol. (Not to mention good luck dealing with his father.) All the teeny boppers may buy up his American Idol coronation single, but they will quickly forget about him before the album comes out. And I shudder to think of a David A. album - song after song of unrelenting sameness and heavy breathing. Why they are pimping him for the win is beyond me."

"This show was simply a hot buttered mess tonight. And Jason "needs to be arrested for what he did to I Shot the Sheriff. But I hope he stays. He amuses me. "

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