Archive for the 'reviews' Category

One for the road.

From Mary Colurso:

Hicks’ voice hasn’t changed much — it’s the same whiskey tenor– nor has his way of delivering a song. A playful slide here, a showy growl there. Maybe a hint of Southern sandpaper. The instrumentation and production values are decent, as well. Notable, however, is the way Hicks’ celebrity has given a sheen to these songs they didn’t possess before. That’s a famous voice singing “Son of a Carpenter,” “The Fall,” “My Friend” and “West Texas Sky.” Those aren’t the best-known tunes in his songbook, nor are they the best written. But Hicks has a highly recognizable style, acquits himself nicely, and therefore gives them luster. Even if “In Your Time” and “Under the Radar” were embarrassing for Hicks — which they are not — the tracks they contain would be worth something as rarities.


Reviews, reviews, everywhere reviews.

Mary Colurso blames the difference between the Huntsville concert and last night’s Birmingham concert on poor sound mixing at the former:

[Taylor] Hicks’ singing came through strong, warm and clear, blending with a band that sounded tight and muscular, yet nicely balanced…Part soul, part blues, part pop, part swampy rock, [“modern whomp”] fits Hicks as neatly as his natty suit jackets. Also, Hicks has devised a clever trick for his tour, tacking vignettes from R&B classics onto the end of newer tunes. “The Maze,” for example, morphed into Honey Cone’s “Want Ads” and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.” That really worked…To make the maximum impact, the Gray Haired Guy’s gotta dance, and Hicks usually exhibits enough energy to light up a theater marquee. That’s his magic, as “Idol” judge Paula Abdul would say.


Mary Colurso, a well-known champion of the “no one is interested in listening to Taylor Hicks if they can’t see him, too” theory, did a little write-up of Hicks’ recent Huntsville concert:

Charismatic body language is partly why Hicks, 30, won on “American Idol” last year, spazz-dancing and soul-dipping his way to the TV crown and a contract with Arista Records. Even when the sound mix lacked subtlety — as it often did — or his voice lacked oomph, Hicks compensated by relying on the other gifts at his disposal. They are many: they are visual; they are emotional. They prompted adrenaline-fueled applause from ticketholders in the sold-out house of about 2,150 people. Frankly, this wasn’t the best singing Hicks has done in recent memory, although he obviously gave it his all. With a rasp and a wink, Hicks covered Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks.” Here and there, he engaged in mini-medleys, blending his own material with blues-funk-soul classics. “Wherever I Lay My Hat,” for example, morphed into snippets of “Night Shift” and “Chain Gang.” “The Maze” was combined with “Let’s Get it On.”

Well, I certainly hope Taylor’s taking care of his voice, but at the same time, Colurso has always been a bit (unfairly, in my opinion) dismissive of Hicks’ vocal talents. She and I are on opposite sides of the spectrum — I love seeing Taylor live, but I get the most joy out of listening to his salty-sugary vocals on songs like “Somehow” and “The Right Place,” and I wish he’d do more vocally-intensive songs. Colurso, on the other hand, needs her monkey to dance. Nothing wrong with that, as I believe that Colurso represents the majority, but it’s a shame that Taylor is so often typecast as a visual performer when he really does have the vocal chops to back it up.

In other Taylor news, the silver fox will be using his weekend Alabama concerts for a good cause. Hicks is partnering with the Red Cross to raise money to benefit Enterprise, Alabama, which was struck by a powerful tornado that struck the city on March 2.

Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Post carried another “why isn’t Taylor selling more albums” article, albeit with a more positive outlook than the AP piece that circulated last week. The Post lays most of the blame for Taylor’s slow sales on the album’s throwback sound, but it isn’t painted as a negative here. The Post also interviewed yet another radio programmer, who had this to say regarding the album:

“I don’t know if any song on the record makes sense for us,” said Brian Douglas, music director at Cincinnati’s WKRQ (Q102), a top 40/adult contemporary hybrid format. “I love the guy. I love the CD. I don’t know if he’s got the sound for any radio station.”

Responds Hicks:

When Hicks is asked if his sound is out of the “Idol” and pop mainstream, he simply says, “There’s all kinds of different genres of music. My style happens to be soul. I think pop is just what’s popular and I don’t think that pigeon holes a style.”

Quite the diplomatic response, and true. Pop is R&B-lite, synthed-out backing tracks, and formulaic rock these days. Eight year ago, it was bubblegum boybands. Before that, it was grunge. Trends change.

Last but not least, check out this article/interview with Hicks by The City Paper Online (skip the comments section; just immature fanbase squabbling there):

Part of Hicks’ desire not to fall into the trap of making generic material is reflected in his choice of “Whenever I Lay My Hat” on the disc, a Marvin Gaye tune Gaye co-wrote with Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield that’s not heard anywhere as often as “Ain’t That Peculiar” or “How Sweet It Is” or for that matter, “What’s Going On” or “Sexual Healing.” “I sure didn’t want to just do the same old thing or any of the Marvin Gaye tunes that are familiar,” Hicks said. Another sign of his deep roots in the blues can be heard on “Gonna Move,” an animated tune that includes a slashing Hicks’ harmonica solo and a mournful, declarative attack that echoes Hinton at his best…”American Idol is a great show and I owe it everything in terms of my control. If there’s any negative thing I would say about it that would be the hurry up and wait part that comes as you move up the line[,” says Hicks. “]But in terms of establishing an identity, helping you reach an audience, getting started, it has been the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”

Taylor also puts to bed any suspiction that he and Simon have a personal, ongoing feud. Remember, kids — this is a TV show, and Simon plays a character.

Like extra candy in your stocking.

From Nashville Scene:

Oh, Taylor Hicks—the unlikely hero, the gray-haired warrior, the man who brought Ray LaMontagne’s soulful love tune “Trouble” to the masses (albeit in watered-down form)—I’ve decided to love you, goofy dance moves and all. Because in a strange way, there’s nothing more American than this Alabama boy’s journey from the barren barroom to the American Idol stage to the historic Ryman Auditorium. He wasn’t the best singer in the field—not even close—but up against porcelain prima donna Katherine McPhee, you couldn’t help but root for him. Hicks’ self-titled debut is a sprawling, big-budget, easy-listening interpretation of soul, but it doesn’t matter, because just like he did every Tuesday night in front of millions, Hicks is singing his guts out with a refreshing and entertaining lack of self-awareness.

Huntsville review.

From The Huntsville Times:

[Taylor] Hicks took the stage in a sports jacket and jeans to a loud standing ovation and many in the crowd – including everything from 10-year-olds wearing “Chicks for Hicks” T-shirts to old ladies with walkers – never sat down. Hicks sang, danced, played a little guitar, blew on his harmonica and never stopped moving during his nearly 90-minute soul/blues/R&B/rock set. He was a little James Brown, Joe Cocker and Taylor Hicks all thrown into one – often goofy-looking-but-still-entertaining – singing, dancing machine…[but] he threw it into another gear – and might have thrown out his hips in the process – when he launched into “Compared to What” and went into full “Idol” mode. It was the classic Taylor we all know and loved from the show, the dancing fool that irritated Simon Cowell and won over the hearts of all us dance-challenged folks.

Settin’ fires in Knoxville.

From the Knoxville Times:

Performing for a sellout crowd of 1,631 at the Tennessee Theatre, Hicks was like a bluesy gyro, constantly in motion as he belted out most of the tracks from his major-label debut, “Taylor Hicks,” along with a few novel mash-ups. His fans, ranging from 6 to well into the 60s, stayed on their feet along with him…Hicks, backed by a tight six-piece band and one singer, used his years of stage experience and the polish he got from “Idol” to craft a nearly flawless show…While “Taylor Hicks” boasts an uneven selection of songs that often fall short of the singer’s abilities, onstage Hicks elevated even the most inane of them and turned the better cuts into fantastic showpieces…Hicks has a gift of being able to crawl inside a lyric and deconstruct it while making it grander, and he really showed off on this [“Just to Feel That Way”].

The author, Betsey Pickle, also wrote about Taylor in her blog:

In a nutshell, Taylor was terrific. I actually expected that, based on his “Idol” performances. The only thing that had me worried was that he was going to be doing songs from his new album, and I don’t think it’s an amazing collection of songs. But Taylor came through. He worked his tail off, and his voice was in good form. And if I liked the show even with reservations about the CD, imagine how much the fans who love the album enjoyed the concert!…He got out his harmonica and revved up the crowd. Taylor gave “Wherever I Lay My Hat” a groovy vibe that became even cooler when he quieted the crowd and went into a falsetto, which he then used on a few lines of “Rocky Top” before melting into the Commodores’ “Nightshift” and then back into “Hat.” I won’t say it was genius, but it was pretty dang close.

It’s amazing — Taylor has yet to net a negative concert review. Oh, sure, it’s early in the season, and some newspaper is inevitably going to send the resident staff crone who couldn’t stand the guy to suffer through one of his shows, all the while yearning for a pretty singer with a pretty smile. But we’re all beginning to see what’s going on here, aren’t we? There’s something special about seeing Taylor, something you can’t get off that damn CD. You’ve got to see him, you’ve got to feel the electricity that he creates when he performs. In my view, the next time he records, he’d do well enough to not even try to bottle that energy, and to stick with bluesier, acoustic numbers that he can later jazz up and intersperse with peppier stuff at a concert. Let the voice speak for itself on the record; let the energy explode at the concerts.

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.

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. "