The campaign begins!

UPDATED: Gee, what could this be? Guess you oughta click it to find out.  (Okay, okay, I give…click the link and listen to Taylor Hick’s entire debut album.)

Seems like the campaign to market Taylor Hicks’ debut album is kicking into high gear. He did the AMAs, The Tonight Show and Christmas in Rockefeller Center last week, Good Morning America this morning, to be followed by appearances on(courtesy of Gray Charles):

Regis and Kelly (12/6)
The View (12/11…heh…that one ought to be good)
The Early Show (12/12)
CNN Showbiz Tonight (12/12)
Martha Stewart (12/13…will he cook turnip greens?)
Megan Mulally (12/14)
AOL Sessions (12/18)

The week of the album’s release, there are also some promotional appearances scheduled for the various Inside Access Extra Hollywood Entertainment Reporter shows. (Heh…gotta love The Soup.)

Taylor’s album has already gotten noticed by at least one arts critic–Misha Berson of the Seattle Times-Ledger. She seems prepared to keep an open mind, though she recognizes that Taylor has an uphill battle to wage with critics like herself:

The jury’s still out on Hicks for skeptical music freaks and rock critics who consider him gimmicky and despise the heavily hyped “American Idol” franchise on principle.

Hmm. Taylor is somewhat of a unique bird in the Idol franchise. He’s got years of performing experience and comes in with an already determined sound and artistic vision–one that, as evidence from his previous independent releases and live recordings, is decidedly not pop. The critics do love to bash Idol, but Taylor’s “street cred” (and his apparent acceptance by Vibe and Relix Magazines) could backfire on him, since his own personal style is like to receive at least some degree of watering-down from the J Records cabal. In fact, one of the three tracks released already bears more of the mark of the current churn-’em-out mentality of pop music than it does the mark of Hicks. Berson picked that up immediately:

The revved-up single “Runaround,” a retort to a fickle lover, has funky horn and vocal backup, and a hook that won’t let you alone. “The Right Place,” is an achingly tender ballad written for Ray Charles, who died before he could record it. (Hicks got a special tour of Ray’s private studio and was given a pair of his cuff links.) The more banal, standard-issue pop tune “Dream Myself Awake,” penned by “Smooth” composer and Matchbox 20 vocalist Rob Thomas, sounds like a blatant ploy to attract younger listeners.”

Thankfully, the rest of the album should be soulful enough. Two covers–Paul Pena’s “Gonna Move” and Marvin Gaye’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat”–made the cut. “Heaven Knows” supposedly has riffs that bear a resemblance to Ray Charles’ live hit “What’d I Say” and Smokey Robinson Motown hits. And the album will boast three Hicks originals–the aching “Hell of a Day” (though rumor has it that this tune has been completely reworked–which is kind of a shame, since I really love the pained twang of the original version, and Taylor’s been trotting out a peppier arrangement lately), the fun “The Deal,” and of course, “Soul Thing”–Taylor’s unofficial anthem and a fan favorite, but personally my least favorite Hicks tune. And my personal distaste aside, I have to share the concerns of those who question of the wisdom of Taylor singing about his “soul thing” when, pragmatically speaking, he’s failed to prove to the critical and the consumer community that he’s full of more soul than he is shtick. As a fan familiar with his original music, I believe otherwise, but for critics eager to take a few jabs at the annual Idol punching bag, “Soul Thing” could wind up becoming the ultimate punchline.


2 Responses to “The campaign begins!”

  1. 1 Bobo December 5, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    Have you ever noticed, prior to the sneak preview of the new CD, how it would seem that each time Taylor performs a song, it seems little different than the last time he performed it?

    Thats a two headed snake there….could be unwise to have people fall in love with a certain ‘way’ a song sounds, come to expect that…then the next time they hear it, its changed. On the other hand, it could also keep people VERY interested, constantly guessing.

    Personally, I hadn’t really taken alot of notice of THE DEAL before…yeah, liked it, but it was not one of my ‘must play first songs’…now this new version on the CD…just melts me away!

  2. 2 idolicious December 5, 2006 at 8:33 pm

    I’ve absolutely noticed it, and that’s one of the things I love about him as a performer. But it’s also very difficult, because you can get attached to a certain way he performed a song–say, “Georgia”–and because he’s so dynamic (a monkey rather than a robot, if you will), you’ll never get that exact same performance out of him ever again. Maddening and frsutrating, but so addictive!

    I gave the album a spin before taking my final exam, so I was in a bit of a bitter mood. I’m listening to it again now, but I’m dead tired. Tomorrow I’ll be more objective. Preliminarily, though, I can say that I do think the album definitely has an underlying theme (which is why I’m always an advocate of ONE PRODUCER over eleven thousand of them), and some of the tunes come off as too pop and too filler for my taste, but hey, there are three or four REAL standouts on this album, and Taylor’s voice is in fine form. He’ll do fine, and eventually I’ll get my acoustic Taylor album. I’m patient.

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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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