Taylor Hicks, Taylor Hicks
Daughtry, DAUGHTRY
Katharine McPhee, Katharine McPhee

Taylor Hicks, Taylor Hicks

“It’s a virtual jambalaya of musical sounds. From bluegrass to soul to Midwestern rock and roll, Hicks laces his tunes with his wide range influences. You can certainly hear the Ray Charles, Bob Seger and Joe Cocker in every word he sings…There is no doubt that the man can sing. He certainly puts his heart and soul into every word he belts out.” —BusRadio Teen Site

“Sometimes you want a buffet, and sometimes you just want the steak. We know Hicks is capable of the finest filet. His post-AI debut is mixed. There seems to be an obvious struggle for control here between making music for the sake of music, and making music for the sake of dollars. Neither side wins here, but neither side completely loses either. There’s something for everyone from the cookie-cutter pop hit The Runaround to the soulful Right Place, but because his musical identity fails to firmly establish itself, fans will go away fed, but still hungry for more.” —A Better AI

“Kudos to Clive Davis, Simon Fuller, or whoever let Taylor make the right CD for him. Maybe the “Idol” machine is finally figuring things out. If you’re a fan of Motown, Ray Charles or just Taylor himself, you’re going to love this one.” —Angela Thompson, Herald-Dispatch

“Frustratingly, Hicks’ speedily produced post-”Idol” debut doesn’t hew to his own budding myth. Instead, it’s a three-way split between pop templates by songwriting pros (Rob Thomas is grittiest among them), covers reinforcing the “Idol” team’s Black History Month conception of R&B, and a mere two originals. It’s no shock that Hicks sounds best on his own compositions; they’re actually hookier than the store-bought stuff, and exhibit a naughty charm that feels like Hicks’ own, not what he learned from the Ray Charles songbook. He also gives a fine, world-weary reading to Paul Pena’s neo-blues classic “Gotta Move,” though it’s nearly undermined by corny horns. Maroon 5 is doing blue-eyed soul better right now, but Hicks, who’s not as artistically mature as his back story suggests, could get there. He just needs some more real blues.” –Los Angeles Times

“The pride of Birmingham, Ala., means well with his juke-joint cliches and Memphis horns, but seriously dude: When you sample Ray’s What’d I Say and Marvin’s Ain’t That Peculiar IN THE SAME SONG, you’re begging to get slapped. This guy “borrows” from so many people, I swear I saw a picture of my wallet in the liner notes.” (Grade: C) –TampaBay.com

“The question is not whether Taylor Hicks can sing, but what he would sing on his anticipated major-label debut. Hicks, the grey-haired, fatherly looking winner of this year’s American Idol contest, has an impressive, expressive voice, but would the honchos behind this milquetoast franchise water down his talents as they did every other Idol-related release? Not this time; Hicks sticks to soul territory on what is one of the best AI releases to date. The Alabama native is one of the few contestants to pursue a rockier, blue-eyed soul direction, and unlike recent flops from Bo Bice and Chris Daughtry, Hicks’s Motown-lite is full of homespun heart. Hordes will write him off immediately, but open minds will be handsomely rewarded.” –Canada.com

“Calculated, but not without its charms. Unlike on TV, Taylor Hicks undercooks the ham here. Without his clunky “Idol” dance moves, you can concentrate on some of the skilled zigs and zags his gravelly voice takes.” (Grade: B) –The Boston Globe

“Part of the problem with “Taylor Hicks” is clearly the time crunch of finishing an album in less than six months while out on tour and maintaining an extremely busy public schedule. But the other part of the problem is that Hicks’ keepers seem to have been trying to mold him into something he’s not. The best songs on the album are the ones Hicks wrote himself – the retro, bar-band soul of “Soul Thing” and the Bonnie Raitt-ish blues of “The Deal” – from his pre-”Idol” albums, along with “The Right Place,” a soul ballad Bryan Adams co-wrote for the late Ray Charles. With those promising songs, it’s clear Hicks could rebound.” –Newsday

“Matchbox Twenty’s Rob Thomas is the only writer that attempts to bridge the gap between Taylor’s retro-soul and contemporary pop, and he does so very well with “Dream Myself Awake,” but the best stuff here are the songs that simply revive soulful sounds, whether it’s Bryan Adams’ surprisingly successful gospel-inflected closer “The Right Place,” the neo-duet “Give Me Tonight” or, most of all, the absolutely terrific opener “The Runaround,” a propulsive throwback to ’80s soul-pop that’s as good as any hit Michael McDonald had in that decade. As good as any of these professionally-written tunes are Taylor’s two originals — the funky “Soul Thing” and the closest thing to genuine old-fashioned Southern soul, the quite wonderful “The Deal” – revived and re-recorded from a pre-Idol independent album he made that show Hicks is a solid writer in addition to being an inspired deal. Their inclusion also shows that he, assisted by some smart pros, can make the songs of others fit his musical style, which makes this debut somewhat of a subversive success: he’s created an album that fits all of American Idol’s requirements – it’s big, clean, catchy and commercial – without losing his own identity, so he’s sneaked blue-eyed soul back into the mainstream. But he never would have gotten this chance if American Idol’s huge audience didn’t recognize that he had this talent and if they didn’t realize that he was making music that they forgotten to hear, and fortunately 19 Entertainment, in turn, realized this and let Taylor Hicks make an album that will surely satisfy anybody that loved to hear him on the show, and one that stands as one of the best Idol-related records yet made. ” (four out of five stars) –AllMusic.com

“If not for the show, Hicks might have landed an indie contract by now. He could be a modestly successful singer-songwriter eking out a living with what credibility he could muster from his mediocre songwriting talents and undeniable vocal charisma. Yet the Idol victory adds pressure on Hicks to be more than that, though to be fair, less has come to be expected of Idol contestants over the years. That’s good for the Alabama singer, because Taylor Hicks is paint-by-numbers neo-soul with a slightly more vivid palette than usual.” —The Rocky Mountain News

“Granted, he’s worked hard and done a very decent job with this 12-track debut, produced in a six-week flurry after the “Idol” tour concluded. It’s a highly professional CD, with enough of Hicks’ gritty personality to please fans and enough of a pop focus to satisfy the record company. But it’s as simple as this: You can’t see him. As his TV appearances prove, Hicks’ essential appeal has a strong visual component. Watching him sing makes the vocals really hit home. It adds to the pleasure. It makes “eh” turn to “ooh!” Any recording artist needs the right material ” Hicks’ disc scores in that regard about 50 percent of the time ” but the fact remains that he’s a highly physical performer. For maximum oomph, you need to use eyeballs as well as eardrums.” —Mary Colurso

“If there’s a significant drawback on Hicks’ first major-label outing, it’s that the album was clearly rushed to be written, recorded and mixed for a Christmas release. The resulting body of work plays like a vocal showcase delivered atop otherwise bland and often forgettable music; while the vocals are strong, Hicks’ star could shine brighter given a band to match his colorful inflections and refreshing throwback appeal…”Heaven Knows” swings with a sassy swagger and “Gonna Move” offers a dose of Otis Redding-flavored R&B, but it’s “Soul Thing” that truly stands out amongst the 12 tracks, offering an infectious dose of Hicks’ raspy, soulful savvy in a song that should prove an anchor in his catalog for years to come…Taylor Hicks’ post-”Idol” debut may not prove the most representative of his talents, but it does build a compelling foundation for things to come.” —LiveDaily.com

“The quality of this CD is superb, which enhances the overall richness of Hicks’s voice that has an unforced, naturally enjoyable timbre that comes from years of performing on the Birmingham club circuit. There are also many quirks, licks and signatures from musical legends Hicks has picked up over the years but unfortunately, adopting traits from performers who have done it right in the past can be frowned upon in the music industry.” —The National Ledger

“The gray wizard Taylor Hicks is unlike anything ‘American Idol’ has produced to date – in that he`s 30, authentically soulful and seems to know who Sam Cooke is – but fans will be hard pressed to find much here that reminds them of the guy they called in for…It`s hard not to feel bad for the talented Hicks, since the two best tracks here are “Soul Thing” and “The Deal,” which he wrote in his pre-”Idol” life. 63 million votes were cast for Old Taylor; the machine would be best served to let him run the show now.” —Monsters and Critics

“The Soul Patrol leader has voice to burn, but it’s hardly released in this collection of standard rhythms and redundant themes. The first track Dream Myself Awake has good licks not enough of Hicks. The song contains standard cookie cutter song writing…Heaven Knows is a great retro sound of the legendary Ray Charles. Hicks’ voice produces goose bumps on any listener right from the start, but unfortunately the song writing kicks back into another standard riff with the bridge…The Deal, more of the same, the listener will be confused and not sure who the song is trying to appeal to. (three out of five stars)” —Associated Content

“The album also ventures into territory that few current artists have dared visit. Taylor cut his musical teeth on the Motown sound and Ray Charles, and while the album could have more of it, this influence is clearly reflected in several tracks. Wisely, Matt and Taylor recognized that in order to achieve commercial success, a balance must be struck. Call that “paying the devil,” or whatever, but putting together a mix of songs on this album will ensure a bigger bottom line, which in turn will enable Taylor to “do his thing” on the next one.” —Foxes on Idol

“It’s not bad. But the moments where you seem to be hearing the unbridled, passionate, giddily in-your-face Taylor Hicks without the affected arrangements or stylistic borrowing are so great that it’s frustrating. After all, we spent an entire endless season watching him cover other people’s songs. Why, oh why, does his own album sound like he’s still doing that? I’m willing to lay much of the blame on producer Matt Serletic, who seems to know that he has a marvelous tool — that husky, dusky voice — but has no idea what to do with it.” (Grade: B-) —The Palm Beach Post

“While there are a couple of songs (including Rob Thomas’s “Dream Myself Awake”) that fall on the bland side of the affair, Taylor’s album holds up strongly throughout. Highlights include the Motown-esque lead track “The Runaround”, a smooth cover of Gaye’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat” (which compares favorably to the ‘80s version made by fellow blue-eyed soulster Paul Young), and the gospel-inflected closer “The Right Place” (which, astonishingly, was co-written by Bryan Adams). He even manages to handle the dance-inflected number “Give Me Tonight” with aplomb. Even when the songs aren’t up to standard, Taylor is well up to snuff vocally. He definitely knows how to make an emotional investment in a song without overdoing it.” —Popmatters.com

“Most impressive is how well Hicks’ self-penned “Soul Thing” and “The Deal” hold up alongside contributions by seasoned pros like Rob Thomas and Diane Warren. Credit Hicks’ solid debut to the artist sticking with self-determined stylistic choices rather than ones foisted on him by image makers.” —The Long Island Press

“Now that he’s off the Idol soundstage, his limited vocal range has never been more evident. Every time he reaches for his head voice, he sounds as if he needs to blow his nose. And though he’s surrounded by seasoned veterans like Rob Thomas (who penned the album’s best song, ”Dream Myself Awake”) and Bryan Adams, he’s decided to embrace Paula Abdul’s mantra: ”Make It Your Own.”” (Grade: C) –Henry Goldenblatt for Entertainment Weekly

“Those who championed his raspy, blues-flecked vocals and down-home approach will appreciate that those qualities were preserved on this polished collection of blue-eyed soul and pop…Give Me Tonight” is strained and obvious, and “Dream Myself Awake” doesn’t quite fit, but this debut is sure to keep Mr. Cowell impressed and Mr. Hicks’ devoted Soul Patrol shouting his praise.” (Grade: B) —Dallas Morning News

“…Naturally Mr. Hicks acknowledges influences like Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye (and implicitly Michael McDonald). But his stated predilection for old-school soul doesn’t find an outlet, except maybe on “Soul Thing,” one of two likeably lightweight originals repurposed from his last, self-released album. By contrast too much of the new stuff is competent and faceless; it might have been called radio-friendly in another time. But Mr. Hicks wields his best asset skillfully, even — or perhaps, especially — when he’s straining against broad, balladic anthems like “Just to Feel That Way.” And his decision to perform a tune called “Gonna Move” by Paul Pena carries the sly implication that Mr. Hicks knows he can do better.” —The New York Times

“”The Runaround” sounds like a vintage version of the Radiators. “Heaven Knows” cleverly grafts a Ray Charles riff onto a Marvin Gaye melody. And Hicks more than acquits himself on the oft-covered Motown ballad “Wherever I Lay My Hat.” Matt Serletic’s excellent production is spiced with deft use of brass (a rarity these days). And Hicks himself plays a pretty mean harp on “Gonna Move.” OK, there are some duds here, for instance the second half of the CD. But it’s a pleasant and accomplished virgin voyage. Of course, Hicks already knew how to sing. Let’s hope he gets some dance lessons.” (three stars) —The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Hicks, self-styled purveyor of blue-eyed soul, is more like a microwave oven. He presses the button for, say, “BALLAD.” As he proceeds to sing with unwavering efficiency, the tune is uniformly cooked. Then out pops the ballad – BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! – with all the sexiness of a heretofore frozen lasagna…Where’s the hunger? The passion? The soul, for crying out loud?” (Grade: C) –Cleveland.com

“Speaking of Taylor, his self-titled debut is goofy and dated, but the boy can sing. It’s stuffed with mid-tempo blues-pop tracks of the “Why won’t you respect me, girl, when I work both night and day?” variety, but somehow, it’s still good. It lacks one killer “I’ll Be”-style single, but you can’t have everything. And Taylor’s cover of “Wherever I Lay My Hat”? Goosebumps.” –The Washington Post

“Thankfully he’s been spared a Bo Bice-like makeover. As befits the prematurely gray Soul Patrol chief, his debut plays like a lost Michael McDonald album from the mid-’80s, stuffed with homages to Ray Charles, covers of Marvin Gaye and Paul Pena (Hicks makes “Gonna Move” a breezy winner), and horns straight outta Steve Winwood’s “Roll With It.” The abundance of sappy ballads tends to drag the disc down as it winds out, and there’s a Maroon 5-ish sheen in place that belies Hicks’ natural rawness. But few post-”Idol” starts have been so enjoyable.” (Grade: B) –The OC Register

“Hicks doesn’t have the soul to be as funky as he wants to be, nor does he have the voice to make the ballads that “Idol” fans would eat up. He’s a good singer — for a cover band somewhere. He’s not some great vocalist who is going to change music. He’s just some guy who got lucky and won a contest. If you’re looking for blue-eyed soul, look elsewhere…This is vanilla soul.” –The Fresno Bee

“Quite simply, this is music to chill to. It’s upbeat enough, but it’s the kind of music you’d sit and politely listen to in a smoky jazz club or in the comfort of your recliner. Once you’re in the proper context, the CD is relaxing and enjoyable…If I were a program director at a radio station or group of radio stations, I’d be at a loss to know what to do with Taylor or where to put him. Would I put him in the Adult Contemporary format? Heritage Rock? Pop? Soul? On the other hand, cross-genre appeal has worked for others before (hey there, Carrie Underwood!) so maybe this isn’t as much of a negative as I initially thought. But minor negatives aside, this is a good CD, fairly solid in terms of most Idol productions, and worth having.” –Musical Ramblings

“Without a strong vocal identity and tethered to a Top-40 producer (matchbox twenty’s Matt Serletic) who values badly dated ’80s-style synth sweetening over true Southern soul grit, the admittedly hard-working Hicks is being pulled apart in a wind of good intentions…The best of “Taylor Hicks” are the two numbers he wrote himself, produced correctly, for once, without a lot of studio treacle slathered on. Those songs are “Soul Thing,” a classic r&b workout with a nicely unexpected jazz section, and “The Deal,” the sort of brokenhearted grinder Hicks seems most comfortable putting across.” (two stars) –The LA Daily News

“Everyone knows “American Idol” winner Taylor Hicks idolizes ’60s soul. But the kind he offers on his self-titled major-label debut falls closer to the stuff hacked out in a far different decade: the ’80s. With its neutered horns, aerated production and anonymous backup vocals, Hicks’ CD unmistakably recalls the more cynical works of Joe Cocker, Steve Winwood and Hall & Oates from the Reagan era. That’s a long way from soul’s original surge, despite the fact that one track directly quotes Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” while another finds Hicks interpreting Marvin Gaye’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat” – and fairly well at that. Throughout the CD Hicks comes off better than his surroundings. His rasp retains its pluck and feeling, despite producer Matt Serletic’s repeated attempts to drown it in indifferent arrangements and sonic goo. Commercially, Serletic’s approach shouldn’t surprise: Real soul doesn’t have nearly the shot at current radio play that this kind of adult-contemporary, tempered take does. At least in concert, Hicks may get the chance to do these songs right.” –New York Daily News

“Taylor Hicks’ debut stands above the rest as far as Idol first timers go, but still suffers from some filler issues that keep it from really blowing the other contestants out of the water. I even give him extra points for managing to get Justin Timberlake’s panties in a bunch just by being good. Equally good is that Hicks still knows his audience, and as long as he sticks with what brought him to the dance in the first place, we’ll probably be watching him get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after a long and fruitful career.” —Cinema Blend

“In places where he could go over the top, like on the inevitable Diane Warren track, “Places I’ve Been,” or the Randy Newman-style closer “The Right Place,” he keeps his control and grit. Club singers like our beloved Price have been making records like this for years. All it took was an unlikely run by a silver-haired young Idol with two left feet to put it on a major label.” (three and a half stars)” —The Post-Gazette

“Taylor Hicks (RCA) doesn’t give him much of a chance to show off his strong voice or his soul-patrol personality. It’s choked with bland leftovers and ill-fitting covers that make it the latest in a line of disappointing debuts from “American Idol” alumni…The best songs on the album are the ones Hicks wrote — the retro, bar-band soul of “Soul Thing” and the Bonnie Raitt-ish blues of “The Deal” — from his pre-”Idol” albums, along with “The Right Place,” a soul ballad Bryan Adams co-wrote for the late Ray Charles. Part of the problem with “Taylor Hicks” is clearly the time crunch of finishing an album in less than six months while touring and maintaining an extremely busy public schedule. But the other part of the problem is that Hicks’ keepers seem to have been trying to mold him into something he’s not.” (two stars) —The News & Observer

Daughtry, Daughtry

“The debut from former American Idol semifinalist Chris Daughtry makes one thing clear: Homeboy loves to rock. Unfortunately, Daughtry shares a weakness for emotional overspill with his fellow Idol alums. He wields his gruff, hair-flailing voice like a spandex-clad star on mammoth arena fare like “There and Back Again” and sleazy near-metal songs such as “What I Want,” a rave-up featuring Slash on guitar. But Daughtry gives in to bombast on a series of giant, aching near-ballads, including “Over You” and “Gone,” a dark, Nickelback-worthy cut that includes lines like “The day you turned on me is the day I died.” Daughtry gets points for not courting soccer moms, but just because he can howl like a motherfucker doesn’t mean he’s not a cheeseball.” —Rolling Stone

“A menacing metal vibe runs through “There and Back Again” and “What I Want,” the latter featuring a cameo from Slash. But mostly the disc sounds like overproduced Nickelback, something we definitely don’t need. (Grade: C)” —The Boston Herald

“If the goal was to establish a niche within the narrower accessible hard-rock realm of Nickelback, Staind, Hinder, Seether, Fuel, Shinedown or 3 Doors Down, well, overall, he succeeded. But he still hasn’t come up with the distinctive, career-making Kryptonite or Broken or How You Remind Me that will stand out in the crowd. I’m surprised by how commercial he was apparently aiming to make the album sound; now let’s see if it actually is commercial.” —USA Today

“Daughtry’ falls in line with discs by 3 Doors Down and Nickelback, but with Daughtry’s strong vocals (especially on “Breakdown”), versatile guitar sounds and strong melodies, his group already surpasses the latter.” (Three stars)” —The Charlotte Observer

“My favorite track for no particular reason is “Home.” There are no weak songs on this CD and it is exactly what we would expect from Chris. And yes, that’s a good thing. He gave it to us on the show and he gives it to us in spades on his inaugural CD. People of the world unite. Rock ‘n roll is back and its name is Daughtry.” —Foxes on Idol

“There’s a kitchen-sink nobility to Daughtry’s singing that makes him believable in the good-husband role, and at least one song, “Breakdown,” sidesteps clichés to describe the kind of niggling fight most married people know all too well. As long as he keeps up this image, Daughtry doesn’t need to be musically inventive — he’s filling a niche for all those former partyers whose rocking is now limited to the glider in the baby room.” –Los Angeles Times

Review of the single “It’s Not Over”: “If there ever was a fitting title to a song, Chris Daughtry may have nailed it by naming the first single from his band Daughtry’s debut album “It’s Not Over.” If you recall—and to the dismay of hundreds of thousands of fans—voters discarded him in the closing stages of “American Idol” during season five. Well, guess who gets the last laugh? Tight, focused and ready to rock your face off, launch single “It’s Not Over” overflows with harmonies and axe leads that suck you in out of the box. If you’re not doing that neck-bobbing spastic reflex after one listen, check your pulse. Oh, and wait until you feast your eyes on this band’s live show. “Idol,” schmidol. The man and his band have scored a hit.” —Billboard

“Musically, [Chris’s] voice is as strong as ever; a sort of country-rock Nu-Metal bellow that works well with the lyrics (that’s good). But listening to the songs, what’s lacking is simply balls (that’s not so good).” —CinemaBlend

“But given that Daughtry’s songwriting is supposed to be his big drawing card, his reliance on cliche is embarrassing. Vocally, Daughtry comes on like a faux-grunge Michael Bolton…Come back, Clay, all is forgiven.” —The News & Observer

“This is music tailor-made for ill-conceived radio formatting, music for consumers whose taste has already been well-established if not preprogrammed. But Daughtry sure does sing his ass off.” —Billboard

“Daughtry’s debut couldn’t be more morbidly routine, aping any number of post-grunge Pearl Jam knockoffs from, well, Nickelback to Fuel to Hinder (whose producer co-wrote three of the songs).” —The New York Daily News

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the new Bo Bice.” —SFGate

Katharine McPhee, Katharine McPhee

(Review of the single “Over It”)
“Anyone expecting to hear the young woman who wooed audiences on American Idol will be sorely disappointed…Don’t get me wrong; Kat has a great, natural voice. It’s just that you can barely hear it. As for the song’s melody – well, there hardly is one. The song’s loud, thumping bass drum and tinny snare accents overwhelm any significant song structure or harmony…It is obvious this piece of crap song was painstakingly pieced together in the studio with Kat’s vocals seemingly added only as an afterthought.” —PhillyBurbs.com

“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.” —PopMatters

“McPhee’s self-titled disc is full of bad generic knockoffs inspired by established artists, including Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Gwen Stefani and even the Pussycat Dolls. It’s hard to catch McPheever when McPhee doesn’t even break a sweat. Instead, anyone with a smidgen of musical taste might have an allergic reaction listening to this disc… (two out of four stars)” —Worcester Telegram

“McPhee. McDonalds. What’s the difference? Well, Mickey D’s at least offers a value meal. Meaning, maybe a limp batch of 99-cent fries leaves you disgruntled, but you can always ask for some fresh ones. Or something else. With Katharine McPhee’s debut, though, we…are left with this nagging ripped-off feeling.” —PrideSource

“R&B tracks like “Open Toes” and “Everywhere I Go” showcase her personal vocal style, making up for the confusion caused by sad, Clarkson-esque attempts like “Over It” and “Better Off Alone.” “Dangerous” is one of the best pure pop songs on the album, with a great hook and killer vocals. The lyrics, unfortunately, land somewhere between corny and cringe-worthy… (two out of four stars)” —The Ithacan Online

“McPhee’s self-titled debut album is confusing and immature. The 22-year-old has a lot of growing up to do before she can become the next Kelly Clarkson. The album definitely shows she is struggling between being a fun and sassy college girl and an adult. Some tracks are mature ballads, while others are girlie-club hits. While an album should have variety, it should not sound like a homemade mix. ” —OSU Lantern

“Her voice has the soul of Kelly Clarkson, with a tone that could potentially rival the great Whitney Houston’s (another track from the album, “I Lost You”, was originally recorded for Whitney’s upcoming comeback album) with enough work, yet the emotion and phrasing of greats like Eva Cassidy and Barbra Streisand. She’s got lightyears to go as a live performer, and it’ll be interesting to see if she steps up the plate and really takes creative control on her next album with both a new direction and doing more of the writing herself. (three and a half out of five stars)” —Blogcritics.org

“To give McPhee her due credit, she is a very good singer. But she’s so unremarkable in every way, that she fails to put a stamp on any single track. Any song here could be sung by Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Jojo, Nelly Furtado, insert pop singer here – and with much more distinction. Brooke Hogan could breathe more life into these songs. Instead, McPhee sings them, they come, they go, and nothing much comes of it.” —SputnikMusic

“McPhee sings darker and lower than her singing heroines, which allows her some individuality despite the conformity that surrounds her. The multi-tracked McPhee stacks enough harmonies to be a one-woman Destiny’s Child. The instrumental arrangements around her contain the usual electronics that fill contemporary hip-hop and R&B music, but the overall production echoes Whitney Houston and Madonna in their ’80s dance-pop glory. There are a few nods to Gwen Stefani and soul classic Aretha Franklin, too. McPhee’s talent is best expressed, in fact, by the Franklin-like “Better Off Alone.” Otherwise, the marketplace rules.” —The Advocate

“You could imagine McPhee following Kelly Clarkson’s lead and doing big-ass pop that makes both Middle America and big-city types happy. But McPhee’s debut doesn’t render her halfway interesting. The album’s twenty-two songwriters mostly avoid schlock but can’t come up with an alternative, which makes ballads like “Better Off Alone” and tepid, McPhunky dance pop such as “Do What You Do” just bland. The upbeat “Love Story” and the decent ballad “Everywhere I Go” mix pop and R&B and provide some relief, but most of Katharine McPhee is politics as usual. (two and a half out of five stars)” —Rolling Stone

“Sure, it will blend seamlessly with the rest of the unsophisticated sound-alikes on Top 40 so some might call that success but someone with such a supple voice deserves better than this Kool-Aid. “Not Ur Girl” is the only track with a little meat behind it….But for the love of Simon Cowell, who allowed something as stupid, drippy and embarrassing as “Open Toes” on a record vying for respectability? (two stars)” —Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Mixing bits of pop melody, R&B bump and maudlin ballads, McPhee’s self-titled debut is a mixed bag of emphatic crooning and the most generic production and songwriting money can buy. Like “American Idol” itself, the album is mostly mediocre and cringe-inducing, but it’s sure to strike a chord with middle-aged Midwestern housewives, teens and music fans looking for a good chuckle.” —The Daily Egyptian

“[P]art of what makes her debut album work is its brashness. “This is sick,” she says, as the beat for a Gwen-Stefani-ish song called “Do What You Do” kicks in. Then she alternates between whispering and letting her big voice loose…A few moments are pretty silly, regardless. As you might have feared, “Open Toes” is indeed about shoes, and never has anyone sung those two words so vehemently. (Or, by song’s end, so incessantly.) But silliness is hardly fatal for an aspiring dance-pop star. And in any case, as “Idol” viewers already know, Ms. McPhee can deliver a show-stopping love song.” —The New York Times

“On her latest single, Katharine McPhee proclaims herself “so over it.” Funny, we feel the same way about pointless, unoriginal albums like this disappointing debut from American Idol’s fifth-season runnerup. Her tunes come in three cookie-cutter shapes: 1) Sassy, Beyonce-style hip-hop strutters; 2) Paper-thin pop-chart baubles; 3) Wrenching Christinafied ballads. Sadly, the latter dominates. And OK, she can sing them all. But like most Idol performers, she never makes the songs her own.” —The Winnipeg Sun

“Great voice — better than it sounded on American Idol — but wow, McPhee is working with some poor material. There’s the painful rapping on ”Open Toes,” which also has the dubious distinction of adding to the catalog of Idol Odes to Random Footwear (see Kellie Pickler’s ”Red High Heels”); the single ”Over It,” which sounds like a JoJo leftover; and some midtempo ballads that Mariah would’ve deemed too banal in 1991. Only on the Babyface-penned ”Everywhere I Go” does a snapshot of an intriguing Toni Braxton-esque pop star develop. (Grade: C+)” —Entertainment Weekly

“By allowing herself to be packaged to look like an escapee from the Victoria’s Secret catalog first and a singer second, McPhee could be naively setting herself up for a career of sitcom and county-fair cameos. This instantly dated set of cooing pop-r&b clich s, computer-edited to within an inch of its life, badly lacks the goofball charm that made Kat a household favorite last season on “American Idol.”” (two out of four stars) —LA Daily News

“On the CD cover, McPhee sits on a beige couch, legs akimbo in thigh-high black leather boots and a striped dress pulled down between her beckoning thighs…But the utter lack of personality on her debut album is enough to freeze any hot sex fantasies you might have entertained. When McPhee apes Paris Hilton on an insipid club track with such lines as ”All the boys in the club want me / All the girls in the club wanna be me” you have to wonder what happened to the virginal Idol belter who delivered such standards as Over the Rainbow.” (two out of four stars) —The Miami Herald

“She is over the rainbow — way over it. Fans of last year’s “American Idol” runner-up may be surprised at Kat ‘07: a sexed-up, urbanized siren…Home” and “Ordinary World” will remind listeners why they voted for her in the first place. Too bad the rest of the album doesn’t measure up. (Grade: C-)” —The Greensboro News-Record

“Lead single “Over It” exudes the same immaturity with its synthesized rhythms that latch onto McPhee’s every word, and her usage of the words “I’m so over it” demonstrate more cluelessness than Alicia Silverstone. Yet, in both songs, the the one constant is the intensity in McPhee’s vocals…Though she may be young and make mistakes, the potential McPhee has is astounding, and with Ordinary World, she confirms that she is anything but ordinary.” —The Chicago Maroon

“And then there’s Katharine McPhee, the latest runner-up, whose self-titled debut is likely to become the next pop radio darling. The opening song, “Love Story,” sounds as if it could’ve come off one of Beyonce’s albums, complete with horn bleats a la “Crazy in Love.” Later on in the album, “Open Toes” proves that it may well be the next girl-powered club anthem, with its snaky electronic beats and lighthearted ode to high-heeled footwear. Yet for every gem of a pop song, there are two or three filler songs that would make good elevator music. The slower songs feel especially clunky, filled with weepy violins and generic R&B anthems to love (see “Home”). Still, this is a surprisingly strong, above-average release in a genre that is currently glutted with female pop/R&B crooners who can belt it out.” —The Duke Chronicle

“Miss McPhee should be proud of herself and this mixed-bag first attempt, which will likely sell a lot of copies and get a bunch of radio play. The 22-year-old has a hot voice and enough sex appeal to transcend her to the pop elite, just so long as she plays her cards right. I would merely advise her to not travel down the same path of her personal idol, Whitney Houston; just lay off the rocks, sweetheart.” —CinemaBlend

“The CD, which was released today, is a mix of all things pop and R&B. The music — almost from start to finish — is the kind of stuff you can expect to hear while shopping at the mall. In other words, it’s the kind of music that easily can be forgotten.” —The 451 Press

“It’s factory safe for the girliest of girls. More attention seems to have been paid to the first half of the album than the second, which downshifts into a bog of ballads. But overall, McPhee has made one of the most pleasing, and commercially attuned, of the “Idol” CDs.” —New York Daily News

“An obligatory pair of big, blowsy Mariah Carey-style piano anthems should play to the core “Idol” audience , but they do nothing to illuminate who the 22-year-old California native is beyond a pretty girl with a pretty voice. A few ill-advised flirtations with the type of sister-friend soul associated with Mary J. Blige — impeccably produced by Hills — only manage to make McPhee seem squarer than she actually is, and a lite-reggae number is best not spoken of again. ” —The Boston Globe

“Her voice shows amazing strength and growth that really sets her apart from the numerous contestants that have come and gone, failing to make even a dent in the industry. Looking back on the album, you can’t help but be impressed.” —The Daily Texan Online

“Katharine McPhee says her self-titled album “really reflects me, a 22-year-old girl who knows what it’s like to fall in love and to have her heart broken, and also a girl who likes to have fun and enjoy life!” If the sum total of Katharine McPhee’s life experience is in fact represented on this CD, then she’s got a LOT of living to do. The truth of the matter is the album’s lyrics read as if they were swiped from the diary of an immature 14 year-old writing about puppy love.” —PhillyBurbs.com

“Her producers and handlers meticulously calculated everything on this disc to appeal to the widest possible range of listeners and broadcast formats, from hip-hop to pop to R&B to adult contemporary (I kept waiting for heavy metal and polka tracks to surface, just to cover every possible combination). Sometimes it works, like on the opening track, “Love Story”…And sometimes it doesn’t, like on “Open Toes,” a hip-hop ode to shoe shopping where she sounds quite out of her element.” —The Associated Press

“True, most of the slow ones here are little more than boilerplate ballads, but McPhee can’t breathe life into these songs so they just sit there inert, sounding impeccable but unmemorable. And that gets to the core problem with Katharine McPhee: as pretty as she is, as talented as she is, she has yet to develop a performing personality that is distinctively hers. (three out of five stars)” —AllMusic.com


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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. "

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