Sharing thoughts about Taylor Hicks and concert travels and other musical musings!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Good-bye American Idol (the TV Show, Not Taylor Hicks)

As I’m sitting here watching the finale of American Idol Season 6, I don’t know whether to forget watching it, gnash my teeth, say a few impolite words, or write a blog entry. I’ll write a blog entry.

I must confess I didn’t watch much of this season’s show. Why, your probably want to know. Well, how do I feel about American Idol, let me count the ways.

First, the majority of the top 10 from Season 5 earned recording contracts. While that’s not a bad thing (really a great deal for the contestants), most put out their debut albums before Taylor Hicks, the season winner. Only Katherine McPhee released her debut album after Taylor Hicks! And if I’m not mistaken, every album was self-titled. Well, maybe Chris Daughtry only used his last name (OK, the name of his band), but it’s still self-titled.

Second, all publicity seemed to be geared towards selling Chris Daughtry, a rock singer. Keep in mind that he made it to the final four before being voted off. And remember that rock seems to be the genre of music that sells. My observation tells me that Chris was promoted to everyone, not just his supporting fan boards, but everywhere. Taylor Hicks’ publicity seemed to be directed toward the Soul Patrol that frequented the fan boards. We were already hooked and devoted, but what about the Season 5 viewers that loved and voted for Taylor that had no idea he had released an album or been on tour all spring?

Third, when reading any sort of press release about album sales or live performances, it seems Chris was touted as the leader, constantly out selling Taylor Hicks. Critics seemed to prefer Chris to Taylor. Had the critics seen both performers live, or heard their CDs, for that matter? Were they basing their write ups on material released by Arista/J Records? I don’t know the answer but I do have my opinions.

Fourth, quotes flying around the internet gave the impression that American Idol producers expected Chris, not Taylor, to win. Chris seemed to be the golden boy with their support, rather than Taylor Hicks, who actually won the show. Please, I’m not bashing Chris – he deserves his chance for a break too – but should he have been promoted to the detriment of the actual winner? That’s what it seemed to me the producers were trying to do.

Fifth, when American Idol Season 6 was doing the American Idol Gives Back shows, Taylor was seen in a video talking about giving back. That was great. But what about an introduction besides putting his name under his face? Weren’t other guests introduced first before they spoke? Did I miss something?

And now for the finale. Last year, the prior year winner, Carrie Underwood, opened the show. This year, Season One winner Kelly Clarkson sang the first song. Huh? Where was Taylor? Right after the commercial starting the last 30 minutes of the finale. Again no introduction. Alright, Ryan Seacrest said his name after Taylor exited the stage. Were people watching wondering who the heck was singing? Did they remember that Taylor Hicks was last year’s winner and that he was passing the torch to Jordin Sparks or Blake Lewis? The audience at the Kodak Theatre seemed to know given the cheers and applause they heaped on Taylor during his performance. At least Kelly Clarkson was kind enough to introduce Taylor during the Beatles’ St. Pepper medley!

And then there was Clive Davis’ summation of Idol success. Taylor might pull out success with his newest single, “Heaven Knows” from his debut album, “Taylor Hicks”. Chris Daughtry was the highest selling new singer for the year. OK, I wonder why that happened. Any responses? After all, who picked “Just to Feel That Way” to be the original single after “The Runaround” was performed on television before the Christmas holidays? The same person who was saying Taylor might be able to pull out his sales to push his album? Platinum now, or if “Heaven Knows” is successful?

As I watched Taylor Hicks perform “Heaven Knows”, I thought about all the live performances I’ve seen over the past several months. While a great version of the song (Taylor always nails this song, no matter where he performs it), it lacked some of the showmanship that you get when you see it live. I think that was due in part to using the American Idol orchestra/band rather than having Taylor Hicks’ band back him up. Also, the back up vocals had more voices than you generally heard during the spring tour. Now the harmonica tonight was killer, not that it usually isn’t. At least Taylor got to move about the stage which has become his signature style, going from the stage to the platform behind the judges. This was the real Taylor – the one I have spent my daughter’s inheritance to see many times this spring. The Taylor I enjoy watching perform!

But the song Taylor sang as part of the Beatles’ medley seemed at times, to be to in a key too high for his voice. Was this deliberate on the part of the show’s producers? I hope not. Taylor did a great job, but when he performing his style of music, he gives a dynamite performance! And the song didn’t provide much of a format for Taylor to dance. It’s fine, Randy, if you decide to say it was a bit pitchy, and not the right choice for Taylor. I would have to agree. But it was fun to see Taylor on the stage in that silver satin shirt giving it his best!

What about a brief interview before the end of the show to see how Taylor as done this year? A mention about the spring tour just completed and the summer tour about to start? How about a chance to plug Taylor’s book, “Heart Full of Soul” coming out in July? Even the outgoing Miss America gets that much! And didn’t Carrie Underwood get that as well? She got to thank American Idol for spring-boarding her to success during Clive Davis’ speech.

Well, now that Taylor has passed the gauntlet to Jordin Sparks, I can retire the DVR and remote. No more watching American Idol’s future seasons. No more watching auditions. No more snide remarks from Simon Cowell. No more coddling by Paula Abdul. No more wondering whether someone’s in the “dawg pound” or not. No more cheesey Ford commercials. Should perchance Taylor Hicks perform in the future I reserve the right to reconsider my position.

But what I’m impressed with most of all is how Taylor Hicks, the American Idol Season 5 winner has conducted himself. He has always been the consumate professional. He has said repeatedly that he is grateful to American Idol for the chance he has had to further his musical career. Whenever the stats are compared for Chris and Taylor, Taylor has always taken the position that the numbers aren’t all that important to him, that he and Chris are different types of performers in different genres of music, and that Chris is talented in his own right. Every time something negative happened, Taylor Hicks took the high road. If it seemed that American Idol stuck their nose up at his, Taylor held his head high and kept on going, kept on saying positive things about the show.

Maybe there are things we don’t know that has caused this rift. Maybe this is just the way it is. Maybe Taylor’s head-strong approach to his career was more than the producers could handle. Who knows, who cares (besides the die-hard fans). Taylor was always a gentleman, and that’s what is most important. At least to me.

So good-bye American Idol, the TV show. I won’t be back, unless you happen to have Taylor Hicks on to perform. My Tuesday and Wednesday nights are now free. Maybe I can now get caught up with scrapbooking about my adventures this spring seeing all the Taylor Hicks 2007 Whomp Tour shows. Maybe I can read a few more books. Maybe I’ll go to a few more Taylor Hicks concerts.

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