Archive for the 'katharine mcphee' Category

Clean sweep.

Despite my long and comfy hibernation, I felt compelled to author a post after the recent spate of Idols parting ways with the Sony/BMG behemoth. Unless you’ve been hibernating right along with me (and if you have, I tend to kick when I’m dreaming, so I’m sorry about that), you know that Ruben Studdard, Taylor Hicks, and Katharine McPhee are no longer footsoldiers in the Dark Lord Clive Davis’s empire.

The Studdard news is hardly new; he and J Records haven’t been working together since May of 2007. The Hicks and McPhee news comes as more of a…well, not necessarily a shock, but at least it’s fresher. To date, Hicks has sold 699,000 copies of his self-titled work, while McPhee has moved 366,000 copies of her also-eponymous debut.

While the media reports regarding Hicks’s and McPhee’s statuses differ in their headlines, billing their departure from J Records as a mutual split, a parting of the ways, or a one-sided kick to the curb, here is what the actual suits have to say. Regarding Studdard:

The exec noted that Studdard put out three albums, “but there comes a time when we have to recognize the market for adult-oriented albums is tough. We allowed him to be a free agent, to make the record he wanted to make.

And with regard to Hicks:

“The same thing with Taylor Hicks (above, left). We didn’t want to shove any songs down his throat. We wanted to make an album in the style he was comfortable with. We mutually agreed that he’d work on an album [on his own], we’d listen, and we’d see where we go from there. There’s no acrimony.”

It sounds like at least Hicks, and possibly Studdard, still has some kind of deal with Sony, wherein Hicks will be recording his next CD on his own (and likely without any financial support from the label), but if J likes what they hear, they’ll have an opportunity (probably the right of first refusal) to distribute the album. Depending on where you fall on the coin of Hicks, this is either good news or terrible news. If all you care about is Taylor putting out a good album (perhaps something more along the lines of his earlier indie releases), then you’re probably raising a glass of champagne and toasting this recent news. If, on the other hand, your dream for Hicks was for him to obtain million-mark sales and the fawning approval of the blogosphere, start rending your garments: Unless a new Hicks album spawns Daughtry-like sales, he’ll likely remain a popular punching bag.

Perhaps more interesting is the exec’s commentary regarding McPhee:

We put millions behind Katharine. Many of us at the label still love her songs. But we’re in the major leagues. We didn’t think she could break into the mainstream. We would rather be honest. (McPhee is talking with another label and is due to star in the movie “I Know What Boys Like.”)

I’m a little confused by this — why would a record label spend millions on an artist that they never thought could have top sales in the first place? — but it’s interesting to note that there is no mention of McPhee having the same right of first refusal deal that it looks like Taylor got. Whether this was simply an oversight in the interview I don’t know, but I will have to say that even though I am not a fan of Ms. McPhee, her record label is extraordinarily stupid if they don’t have a similar arrangement with her. The girl does have a small spate of movies coming out (even if her oft-hyped “starring role” in the abovementioned Anna Faris comedy is reportedly only a small part with minimal speaking and her other “starring role” was handed to her by her boyfriend/fiancee, who also happens to be the film’s producer). On the off-chance (or on-chance, if she really can act) that McPhee becomes a box office darling, why in the world would RCA want to cut its ties with her? Wouldn’t they want to keep her contractually bound? Then again, it’s possible that RCA could always rerelease Katharine McPhee if her movies pick up steam and see if the album gains similar momentum.

It’s also worth noting that some of McPhee’s fans grumble that RCA never invested anything into her album and that she was never truly given a chance to take the market by storm. I don’t know who was pumping the money into McPhee’s coffers, but given that she did have a hit single (“Over It”), two videos (one of which did very well on rotation), a major endorsement deal (Big Sexy Hair), an almost endless stream of obnoxiously open-mouthed magazine covers (including Lucky and Shape), several fashion spreads (including Cosmopolitan, OK!, and In Style magazines), a weeklong hosting gig on TRL, and very in-demand producers like Ryan Leslie and Danjahands (who don’t come cheap) behind her, I’m hard-pressed to say that her album sales (which, really, weren’t all that terrible for a first-timer) were the result of lack of promotion. Again, whether she was financed and pushed by RCA or her management company, I don’t know, but it’s not as though you had to look hard to find her face.

I’m curious to see what the future holds for these three, though. Katharine, who I still maintain makes a better Madelaine Peyroux knockoff than a Fergie knockoff, probably has the best shot to keep her fifteen minutes going just on her looks alone. If she can add a truly good musical or acting performance to her physical appearance, she might have some legs in the industry. Hicks, in my opinion, might want to consider collaborating with the artists who have always supported him (and who still played with him despite him bearing the nasty Idol stigma) — Keb’Mo’, Buddy Guy, Earth Wind & Fire, Warren Haynes, and Widespread Panic, just to name a few. While I’m a fan of Hicks, I think his songwriting needs to be polished, so collaborations can probably only help him. And Studdard seems to be taking different career roads already. Wherever they wind up, whatever levels of commercial success they obtain, and however they are labeled by the Internet, I wish them all — and their fans — good luck.


Leslie Hunt is awesome; Simon, not so much.

Leslie Hunt (and fellow bootees AJ Tabaldo, Alaina Alexander and Nick Pedro are up for thier requisite Entertainment Weekly interview. Apparently, Leslie had never even watched Idol before (she says she’s not a bit TV watcher at all), but tried out for it because “You know how the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? I was doing the same thing over and over and I thought maybe this was a long shot but I’d try something new.” Some other exerpts:

EW: Where do you think you went wrong?
Hunt: It’s really hard to say what exactly happened. I know I’m kind of quirky…Maybe it was just that everyone else is so friggin’ awesome.
EW: Not everyone. You can’t think you were the worst singer up there!
Hunt: I don’t. (Ed. note — ha!) I hope that doesn’t get me into a sticky situation. I don’t think I was one of the better ones, though, as far as pure talent and vocal abilities.

This is a wacky competition this year, in which any woman who doesn’t have that powerful, belting-type voice is made to feel like they’re less talented, and I just don’t think that’s right. Having a loud, booming voice is one particular kind of talent; so is having the type of melted-butter vocals that made me want to listen to Leslie for hours on end. Maybe Leslie wasn’t right for Idol (they rarely reward non-glory-noters; even Taylor Hicks had to hit the occasional falsetto note), but I still want to hear more from her. Anyway, Leslie also reveals that she thought her miniskirt-and-leggings combo was a “damn cute outfit” and that she and contestant Gina Glocksen became very close.

Alaina Alexander has no qualms about picking a Dixie Chicks song, because she felt like she really connected with it. She also reveals that she is not only a singer, songwriter, and guitar player. You know, Alaina might not have had the strongest voice on Idol, but somewhere in there was a nice tone (she just had problems finding it). If she’s going to pursue her musical career, I submit that she’d do much better as the folksy type, where her songwriting, not her singing, will be the true art form. AJ Tabaldo admits that he was “shocked” at being voted off, but feels that Sanjaya Malakar (who got to stay) was tough competition. And says AJ of the judges: “[t]hey told me they felt like I was one of the stronger ones vocally and I need to keep going and hopefully there will be something in the works with one of them.” Hmmm, really? Interesting. Nick Pedro says “there’s no shame in me going home,” noting that even the person with the lowest total raked in a few million votes.

Leslie Hunt talked a llittle more about her Idol run with the Chicago Sun-Times:

I would have liked to have had the chance to rock out a bit more…Watching myself perform ‘Feeling Good,’ I realized, man, I am totally white.”


As for why she was eliminated, she could only speculate. “I’m not really mainstream, and I chose songs that aren’t on the top of the charts,” she said. “It was a risk I felt I should take. I feel better and more in my element when doing things that are true to me. I guess I don’t know America that well.” (Ed. note — America wants instant gratification. They will vote for the flashiest performer and then not buy their album.)

Simon Cowell continues hating on playing a character who hates and Taylor Hicks. He bitches and moans that he couldn’t stand Taylor and that he was right because Chris Daughtry is selling more records. Well, that prove that Daughtry is more marketable, but not more talented (frankly, I think they’re both very talented young men). Also, the great thing about this is that Taylor Hicks most certainly does not give a rat’s ass what Simon Cowell thinks of him, or at least says about him publicly. You reap what you sow, Cowell. You don’t want quirky folks like Hicks running away with your precious Idol crown? Don’t put them through to the Top 24. But equating sales with talent is certainly no surprise coming from Mr. Teletubbies himself (thanks, Chris Sligh; your timing may have been off, but your accuracy wasn’t).

Have another Katharine McPhee album review from Pop Matters:

The music is….slick and seductive and plastic in exactly the way that makes so much of the exploitation in today’s mass media seem not actually exploitive or sexy at all. It says: She’s hot but she’s wholesome but she’s sooo hot but she’s sooooo unreachable but she’s the girl-next-door but her cha-cha is right there behind that striped dress. Oh, and she can sing…[b]ut no matter how many times the Idol judges say “You’ve got to stand out from the crowd”, the end-product of all that competing is to sound like this: wonderfully anonymous, soulfully generic, deeply and utterly secondary to the forgettable songs, which are themselves mere vessels for the delivery of tricked out production—beats and blips and strings and schmaltzy piano where appropriate. It is product, expertly delivered. You can buy it if you please. Like a pizza or a Big Mac…Mechanical and efficient, this album does its job with minimal soul. Simon Cowell smiles and buys a new black t-shirt, and Clive Davis rubs his hands together greasily. Katharine McPhee, on cue, sings and smiles for the camera. America yawns.


That’s right, America. My girl Leslie Hunt, she of smoky voice and warm maple tone, was unjustly given the old heave-ho over far less talented and/or unique singers like Antonella Barba and Haley Scarnato. Was it the scatting, as poor Leslie lamented in her awesome sing-out? Was it America’s distaste for jazz, as evidenced by the addition of AJ Tabaldo’s premature ouster? Le sigh. We shall never know. Bah. I realy wanted to see her makeover, too. I think she’s just as pretty as Miss Barba, she just doesn’t play it up that much.

But do know this — I’m certainly no longer invested in this season. Oh, sure, I have a favorite or two, and there are plenty of contestants left in the game I don’t care for, but I won’t be voting for any of them. Unless, of course, the final two somehow comes down to, like, Melinda and Antonella. In which case I will be paying people to vote against Antonella.

Anyway, I’ll be following Leslie as best I can. Be sure to check out Leslie and her band, Mark Twang. (I’m hearing that the band actually broke up in December, but still, check them out anyway.) Their music is great, and Leslie’s actually a wonderful songwriter. Hopefully, she and her remaining bandmates will be able to put the buzz she’s generated to good use. Bigger gigs? A Mark Twang CD sold online? Here’s hoping.

All right, I’ve got to empty out this links folder. It’s getting bloated. Here’s what I’ve got:

Of course there’s the ubiquitous “Is Taylor Hicks a fluke?” article that’s been circulating around. I don’t think the article’s that bad in and of itself; a couple of outlets have chosen to replace the word “fluke” with “flop,” giving the piece a seemingly more negative spin than it actually has. (Actually, Taylor’s tour, and the fact that he’s playing to packed houses, is quite emphasized.) The article interviews several people, many of whom blame the album’s slow sales on it’s “old” feeling. But this quote, from the program director of a large radio station, is perhaps the most telling:

[Program director Barry] James said he HAS an image, “but it’s not one with broad appeal. Is he sweet? The bad boy? The sexy chick magnet? The whacked out artist? The ‘dark’ one? The answer is none of the above.”

So because Taylor can’t be stereotyped into one of five or six preconceived packages (unlike Chris Daughtry and Katharine McPhee, who quite easily became the angsty pop-rawker and the sultry pop vixen, respectively), he won’t sell. (And that duet with Snoop didn’t help his case any, I’m sure; it just confused the hell out of people who couldn’t see it for anything more than worth a snarky comment on somebody’s blog, let alone see it as, well, music.) Let me tell you, if that’s the reason for his sluggish sales, it’s okay with me. I shudder to think that the record-buying public is that brainless that they purchase albums not on how much they like the music, but on how easily identifiable the artist’s image is. But I wouldn’t be surprised.

Taylor’s got some pretty positive press, too — he’s featured on CNN’s People You Should Know. It links back to the same article, but the context is more positive. There’s also another Taylor interview here; seems Taylor’s moving away from his “this album is 100% me” statements and is now emphasizing the compromises he had to make on the album. In fact, he told the audience at his Tampa show that he didn’t want to do “Just to Feel That Way,” but Clive told him he needed to and he responded “yes, boss.” Ahh, see, this is the Taylor I know and love.

Katharine McPhee says that smoking makes her feel sexy. Yeah, nothing says “that’s hot” like adenocarcinoma (not to mention ashtray breath). Idiot.

Chris Daughtry wants to write a song for a movie. He probably hopes it’ll get picked up for some dark, gothic picture, so I will try not to giggle too hard when it winds up as the main theme in Reese Witherspoon’s latest romantic comedy. Actually, if you want to hear something really good, check out Daughtry’s acoustic version of “Rocket Man.” It’s…really good. Boy can sing, and I like him much better when he’s not screaming at me.

Shoes and ships and sealing wax.

I didn’t want to address this, but looking at my blog stats, I feel like I have to. Unless American Idol takes some sort of official action, I won’t be addressing the Antonella Barba scandal. You won’t find pictures (or links to the pictures) of her here, nor will you find long, drawn-out analyses of her behavior. If you want that, go to TWoP.

Check out the Taylor Hicks with Taylor comments on the ongoing “who’s the real Idol” debate:

In an interview, Hicks said that to measure him against, say, Daughtry or Underwood is a case of apples and oranges. “You know, it’s funny: People want to try and compare us, and that’s hard to do because I’m not singing rock and I’m not singing country,” he said. “So to compare us — I find that interesting because we’re in different genres.” Hicks said “interesting” with a droll air that suggested what he meant was “inappropriate” or “misinformed.” “If I was a rocker, I could see that [comparison],” he said. “But I’m a blue-eyed soul performer.”

Hee. This was also an interesting tidbit:

Whatever the size of the audience for his brand of contemporary blue-eyed soul, Hicks called the album “definitely a step in the right direction,” adding, “I worked very closely with that producer to capture who I am as an artist and who I was as an American Idol.”

A “step in the right direction,” not, note, “the embodiment of who I am musically and professionally.”

Entertainment Weekly continues it’s tradition of scoring the first round of Idol post-bootee interviews. This week, Shirley Halperin spoke to Paul Kim, Rudy Cardenas, Amy Krebs and Nicole Tranquillo about their short runs on the show. Paul Kim insists that he’s been singing barefooted for five years and that it wasn’t a “gimmick,” just him being him. (Note to Paul — longevity does not a personality trait make; a gimmick’s a gimmick). Kim also reveals that “Careless Whisper” was only his sixth song choice, the first being a Donny Hathawy number (the first five wouldn’t clear), and that he was sick with bronchitis before the performance. Despite his illness, Kim says that at the end of the day, he just didn’t sing as well as he needed to, and that’s why he got booted off. (Hee. Refreshing to see an Idol take personal responsibility for a sucky performance, isn’t it?) Rudy Cardenas is keeping his chin up — he says his performance was “a little much,” but at the same time, he completely embraces the cheesiness that is American Idol. Aww. I kind of like him now.

Amy Krebs wishes Paula had stuck up for her a little bit more (um… you weren’t entitled to it, sweetie), but seems to have taken the judges’ criticisms to heart, noting that she’s always struggled with feeling comfortable in her own skin. Oh, and if she were a scented candle, she’d be cinnamon. And Nicole Tranquillo stands by her song choice, regardless of Randy’s “too urban” criticism. I kind of like that attitude — upon replay, her performance wasn’t that bad, certainly no worse than certain people who should have gone home in her place, and it’s just too damn bad that she didn’t fit into the little pre-packaged box the judges had already picked out for her.

Please to enjoy Katharine McPhee’s new video for “Over It.” I guess the plot revolves around her filming a little video (video within a video — how very meta!) about how — you guessed it — “over it” she is, and then giving it to some guy who dissed her. The video in and of itself is done fairly well, although the plot is asinine, as any woman worth her salt knows that giving a dude a DVD of you moping around on a couch over him is just going to make him all the more glad that he got the hell away from you as quickly as he did. But whatever, it’s TRL. Anyway, the weird thing about this video is that Katharine’s face is kind of blank throughout. She does okay as an actress during the plot scenes, when she’s laughing in a car with her friends, then seems a little deflated when she sees the offending dude at a party. But during the narration, she’s like a zombie. Is she wistful and over it? Is she angry and over it? Does she want the guy to know that she wants nothing to do with him again, or does she hope that the DVD of her rolling around on the carpet in a backless dress, hiking her skirt up to mid-thigh, will entice Cheaty McCheatser to come back to her? I don’t get it, and it’s not really Katharine’s fault as much as it is the director’s. I had the same problem with Daughtry’s video. But then again, videos (or songs, for that matter) don’t serve to tell stories these days so much as they serve as a miniature photo shoot for the singer. Meh.


So much to do later today…recap Taylor Hicks’ concert last night, watch and comment on Katharine McPhee’s new video, and just report the general buzz in Idol land. Watch this space for updates later today.

Concert recap time!

The set list: “Taking It to the Streets,” getting the crowd good and energized; “Heaven Knows,” interspersed with cooing, teasing vocals; “The Maze,” funkified with a punched-up, semi-Latin flavor that works so much better than the recorded version (and if this is the next single, I hope they remix it); “Dream Myself Awake,” which still sucks; “Call Me The Breeze;” “Hold Onto Your Love” tagged with “Chain Gang”; “Can’t Trust Your Neighbor,” a fabulous blues-rock numer where Taylor’s acrobatic, nuanced,honeyed-gravel vocals really shine; an even funkier “Hell of a Day;” a tour-de-force “Just To Feel That Way,” one of his best performances of the song I’ve ever heard; “Heart and Soul;” “Wherever I Lay My Hat,” which was somewhat less cheesy but still not one of my favorites; “Young Turks,” dedicated to the kids in the audience; the most gorgeous version of “The Right Place;” “The Runaround” as closer; and as an encore at the behest of the crowd, Eric Clapton’s “Badge.”

The crowd: Sure, the Glitter Division of the Soul Patrol was representin’; there were women decked out in Taylor Hicks T-shirts (some purchased, some homemade — and very well made; no Bedazzling or Puffy Paint as far as I could see), blinking guitar pins, and official-looking badges, but for the most part, the crowd was comprised of families with young or teenaged children, groups of women in their mid-20s, and yes, some middle-aged women. Interestingly, the crowd was about forty percent men, the vast majority of whom looked like they actually wanted to be there, and were dancing, clapping, and generally having a great time. In fact, to my write was a gaggled of — GASP! — teenaged boys, swaying back and forth, tapping their feet, and snapping lots of pictures. My younger brother came to the show with me, and though he still maintains that he’d never voluntarily listen to a Taylor Hicks album, he had a great time, and had nothing but kind words for Taylor’s performing style.

The band: The band rocks. They’ve taken some of the cheesiest songs on the album and turned them into funkier, bluesier numbers. They are “doin’ these songs right,” so to speak. The band operates like a well-oiled machine, and what strikes me is how much damn fun they all seem to be having. The biggest surprise of the night was backup singer Melanie Nyema’s solo — what a beautiful, earthy voice on that girl. Maybe we’ll see her as the next Melinda Doolittle…I wouldn’t be surprised.

Taylor himself: Whoo-ee, that boy sure is sweaty! For real, though, I can’t say I’ve ever seen someone having more fun doing what it is they do than Taylor has up on that stage. He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere — which is why some of my pictures are so blurry. He spins, jumps, shakes, wails, coos, rocks and twirls. He’s also silly, at one point (after my camera died, of course) taking the various Mardi Gras items that were thrown onto the stage and dressing his guitarist in a purple pimp hat, and himself donning a purple, green and gold feather boa (which, I have to say, looked rather smashing on him, even if it did clash with the silver blazer and slate-blue shirt he had going on).

Quotes of the evening:

“Taylor, I want to…kiss your forehead!” –a couple of drunk ladies behind me

“DAMMIT! I’m at the wrong concert!” –an older gentleman in front of me, after Taylor introduced himself to the crowd

“Stay the fuck still, Taylor! I’m trying to take your picture!” –me

“I did not need to know what kind of underwear Taylor prefers.” –my brother, after Taylor’s spinning-wheel act revealed an apparent preference for tighty whities

Jibs and jabs.

Taylor Hicks will perform at the Kentucky Speedway on July 14. Peter Frampton will be playing earlier in the summer. Taylor is apparently a NASCAR fan (hee!). Oh, those good ol’ Southern boys and their NASCAR. I tried watching it once; I found it strangely hypnotic, but not particularly enthralling. Oh well.

Tyra Banks had Katharine McPhee on her show, where she proceeded to squeeze Ms. McPhee’s breasts like a couple of overripe melons at the fruit stand. I say, you’re not a real star until Isaac Mizrahi’s groped your funbags on the red carpet. I like Katharine’s sweater, though. Might have to pick one of those up for myself.

Pitter patter.

Spoilers? Spoilers? Yoo-hoo, spoilers? No, I haven’t heard anything regarding what the Top 24 men will be singing tonight…but if I do, I shall post it here forthwith. (You know what? I don’t even know what ‘forthwith’ means.) Watch this space.

Phil Stacey: “I Couldn’t Ask for More” by Edwin McCain
Alaina Alexander: “Brass in Pocket” by The Pretenders (unconfirmed)
Nicole Tranquillo: something by Aretha Franklin (unconfirmed)
Chris Richardson: “Do I Do” by Stevie Wonder
Rudy Cardenas: a “70s rock song”

Jared “J.L.” Cotter wants to be the first New Yawk Idol. Timberlake wannabe Chris Richardson gave up his career…managing a Hooters…to try out for Idol. Hey, I knew there was a reason I didn’t like him (aside from the Timberlake thing, of course). And here’s a little interview with Leslie Hunt’s family.

Katharine McPhee got another review, this time from Monsters and Critics (her second review from the site):

‘The Simpsons’ once featured a Chuck E. Cheese-style kids` restaurant with the slogan ‘We cram fun down your throat,’ which is more or less the ‘American Idol’ machine`s plan for Katharine McPhee on this debut record. The season five runner-up, a big-voiced Broadway wannabe on the show, is awkwardly painted as Gwen Stefani/Fergie by a surge of producers and writers on this anonymous-sounding pop album…McPhee is appealing, but lyrics like “From the first time I saw you/Well I thought that we`d be cool” don`t do much to reveal her true personality.”

June 2019
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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. "