No art can come from American Idol.

Oh, those aren’t my sentiments–they’re Clive Davis’s. Hoping that Taylor Hicks’ second album digs deep into his emotional center, allowing him to employ his subtle blues-tinged phrasing and inflection? Still jonesing for Katharine McPhee to put out that sultry, smoky, Norah Jones-meets-Madeleing Peyroux album that we all know she’s capable of? (Hey, just ’cause I don’t like her doesn’t mean I don’t think she could pull that off. She could.) Well…in that case, you better hope that another label comes along and buys these kids out of their contracts. In a new article, Clive Davis offers his definitive opinion on how he views American Idol as part of the BMG “family”:

“I’m well aware that all the success of ‘American Idol’ puts a taint with some people on my other history, which began with Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen and Carlos Santana,” the bespectacled Davis says, looking sharp in his nicely tailored slacks and sweater.

“But a discerning person recognizes that when you are running a company, you’re dealing with a mixture of commerce and art. The important thing is to know when you are dealing with art and when you are dealing with commerce, and I know that difference.”

So in other words, the Idols cannot and will not be viewed as “artists;” no, that would tarnish Clive’s street cred. So to maintain his reputation, Clive apparently views them as nothing more than commercial products, mere business investments, but not potential outlets of art or creativity. Contrast that viewpoint with his description of Alicia Keyes:

Another of Davis’ cornerstone artists simply walked in the front door: Alicia Keys. Still in her teens when she sat down to play three songs in Davis’ office, Keys was such a natural that Davis was momentarily angered when Peter Edge, one of his A&R aides, and Jeff Robinson, Keys’ manager, told him that the young singer was under contract to Columbia.

Alicia was a bona-fide artistic find, no doubt. Had she won American Idol, however, instead of simply walking through Clive’s front door, we wouldn’t have gotten a Songs in A Minor. We would have gotten Alicia–the same girl, the same phenomenal talent, the same voice–singing “Truth Is” or “Over It” or “Dream Myself Awake.”

But not all hope is lost…at least, not on the commercial “dancing with the devil” side. A beacon of hope exists for Taylor’s latest album, which according to this quote, is currently selling only as well–moreso, actually–than Clive expects it to:

“The mistake people make about ‘American Idol’ is that they think the show itself is enough to make anyone a bestseller, so there is no creativity involved,” Davis, a guest judge on the TV program, says in his deliberate, thorough way. “But the show’s exposure is only worth about 350,000 to 500,000 record sales for an artist.

“To go beyond that, you have to have hit songs to get on the radio.”

You mean that many record-buyers actually tune into radio, and that’s how they find out about new albums on the market? You mean the news of Taylor Hicks’ debut release isn’t going to be distributed to the mass public via osmosis or subliminal transmission? Huh. Who knew? [/sarcasm]

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1 Response to “No art can come from American Idol.”


  1. 1 ggwfung January 15, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    the show is pure spectacle.

    But it seems to capture the zeitgeist of today; instant success, talent over hard work, judged by your peers. Every generation has it’s identity card.

    regards hit songs, you are so right. Fame only gets you so far, to get people to hand over real money, it has to be good.

    ggw


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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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