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Monday, July 31, 2006

Will Smith's Marketing Hicks' "Falls" into Court

"American Idol Taylor Hicks to Court to Block Will Smith" in an article by National Ledger writer, Lynda Johnson, she discusses the court order blocking Mr. Smith from releasing "The Fall" a song written and recorded by Taylor Hicks a decade previously. When I first heard that Mr. Smith was releasing the demo CD he cut for Taylor Hicks in an attempt to promote Taylor I viewed his putting out the demo a favor to Hicks' fans. I also thought it an excellent promotion for Taylor, getting out material from his early days, so to speak, thus allowing current fans a taste of where he has come from, compared to the man who won this season's American Idol.

Perhaps it's 19E and American Idol putting the brakes on the release because of their current proprietary rights to Taylor; perhaps it is Taylor Hicks not wanting Mr. Smith releasing and making money off of his name without prior consent. Regardless, it looks like Mr. Smith will have to fight a battle to sell this CD disappointing the Soul Patrol who looked forward to recieving more music by Taylor.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Taylor Hicks Visits with Terminally ill Soul Patroller

This story link touched me greatly when I read it this morning. It concerns a Soul Patroller's wish granted by American Idol through the Dream Foundation. Mary Anne Hanley, the recipient, is terminally ill with liver cancer; doctor's predicted her demise by last March, but she is still fighting with her twin sister, Joanne, caring for her.

Taylor Hicks demonstrated his big heart with prayers and tears, touched by her devotion to him as a Soul Patroller. American Idol was gracious to provide a limousine for the sisters and V.I.P. treatment. There is a video clip provided by 13WHAM-TV, Rochester, that plays Taylor's song, "Hell of a Day", while he and the other Idols meet with Mary Anne. Certainly this is an inspiring example of the good in being a celebrity and what it can bring and do for others. Mary Anne got her picture taken with the Idols and autographs all around.

It must have been one hell of a day for Mary Anne and her sister, Joanne. God bless them both.

Groove on Soulman.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Taylor Hicks; Idol News

Presidential Seal of Approval? Next week President George W. Bush will host the American Idols as they tour the White House. I find this interesting in that Tony Blair will be in town to meet with Bush to discuss the war in the Middle East that same day. I can envision Blair and Bush along with Laura and the dogs hopping and buzzing around the Idols. Blair and his buddy, Dubya, swaying and bobbing, apeing The Soulman's signature moves, shouting WOOOO! and high fiving. Dubya snickering in the way only he can....to be a fly on the wall. You can bet that part of the visit won't appear on camera; but it will happen. ;) White House excitement at its Idol Best. Leave it to Taylor Hicks' to continue making history. This is the First Idol invitation to the Oval Office, previous Idols including last year's runner-up, Bo Bice just didn't make the cut. Of course, one other factor to consider, Taylor Hicks drew more votes from the public, with Fox reporting 63 million cast, compared to Bush's 59 million in 2004 (to be fair, a record just the same, set for any U.S. presidential election). During a time when Bush's ratings with the public are crawling at a low point, he may be hoping to capture some of that Soulman Mojo. (Taylor, keep an eye out for anyone trying to nab any locks of hair...) Bush can thank Laura's press secretary, Susan Whitson, she was Hick's 9th grade English teacher in B'Ham. It's a small world after all.

Taylor Hicks "carries himself with dignity", so it says in an article written in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle by Jeff Spevak. This is a quality of Taylor's that so many folks missed during the Idol run - instead many perceived him as just a goofy, Southern boy from Birmingham, Alabama, big on ernest talent and low on intellect. My first impression of Taylor Hicks was one of a man with fire and drive, okay with playing the fool, but not a fool. Just one look into his eyes, I knew this is not a guy to ever underestimate. You cannot escape his internal fire.

Speaking of internal fire, about a week or so ago I was reading through the Idol boards (I have a few favorite posters that I like to read when I can find them -"friends" of sorts from the days during the competition), when a thread started by Will Smith popped up. I'm thinking Will Smith like in "Independence Day"? Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Curious, I read the post. It seems this Will Smith recognized what Taylor had in the way of talent and potential before Clive Davis had nightmares of any contestant with gray hair winning Idol. Smith saw that fire within Taylor and cut a demo CD containing three songs, "The Fall", one of Taylor's favorite songs, as well as "In Your Time" and "Son of a Carpenter". You can find this demo CD at Tyler Music Group. Mr. Smith is selling them for $5.99. Mr. Smith presented the demo to 15 major labels but was repeatedly turned down. Comments regarding Hicks' hair ranged from 'Who's the guy with the Phil Donohue haircut', to simply not interested in trying to market a singer in their 20's with gray hair. I can imagine the 'suits' that turned Hicks down now kicking themselves in their pinstriped rear-ends.

This demo CD should provide Mr. Smith a little financial windfall, he was one of the first to see the "IT" in Hicks. Speaking of windfall, Mr. Smith even introduced "The Fall" to windbag Clive Davis, as a better song than "Do I Make You Proud?" and of course, Davis turned it down. I thank Mr. Smith for coming forward with this and sharing it with the fans and wish him much success.

Following another favorite of mine from AI5, Elliot Yamin, he's loving livin' la vida loca as does his Momma. Apparently sans now ex-girlfriend, Amanda. Amanda had been a huge promoter of E. within the forums community in the earlier days of the Season 5 contest, then seemed to disappear. Perhaps Elliot's too busy now to settle down, or Amanda grew weary of sharing E. and success with Mom in tow, but we have to consider, he's city hopping on a concert tour, and cutting a new album due out soon after the first of the year. Read more details about Elliot in this article from The Washington Post.

That's a wrap for me this Sunday morning. I've another article in progress about "The One (making a Music Star) and Why It'll Soon Be The Done" or something like that... I did say it's a work in progress. I plan to have it out after I watch the second week's show. That darn Libra voice within has to give it one more watch.

The One good thing, Hicks or Elliot didn't try out for what is looking like One truely Train-Wreck of a reality show.

Groove on Soulman. (Say "Hey!" to Dubya for me.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Blogcritics Review of Hicks' Ford Commercial

I have to say it is a First for me to see a commercial reviewed on blogcritics.org. The Taylor Hicks Ford commercial as reviewed by writer Tom Johnson must have made some sort of blogcritics history. Like Ford used Taylor Hicks' name to advertise its products, Mr. Johnson uses Taylor Hicks name to advertise his abilities to put words together in a clever way. Mr. Johnson most likely also made Eric Olsen (it's his site) quite pleased by using the Taylor Hicks name to draw hits and responses to the b/c site. Win-Win all the way around; with the exception of the man, Taylor Hicks, whose name was used to forward all these causes and aims. I just hope that Hicks' has at least seen the benefit of a fattening bank account balance.

Using Taylor Hicks' name to sell Ford, to sell Mr. Johnson, to sell blogcritics.org, to employ one of Mr. Johnson's favorite words, brilliant. This article racked up 147 hits in a mere 2 to 3 days, take into account all the folks outside of the commentators, it must have been a huge rating boost for the site.

SoulPatrollers turned out in earnest to stand up for Taylor, but word to the wise - blogcritics.org bloggers can be savage verbal beasts. ;) LOL

I say publicity of any kind can be used for positive. One thing apparent reading through the posts, Taylor is Much Loved and adored by his fans.

Groove on Soulman. (Water off a duck's back, baby.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Albany: No Sympathy for the Soulman

Taylor Hicks and the Idol Gang were put through another concert night, and are suffering through yet another negative review. Steve Barnes, a writer with Albany's timesunion.com, an on-line news source attended the concert at Pepsi Arena. The review, titled American Idols Fill Pepsi Arena with Fans praises Chris Daughtry, shines a little love on Yamin but discounts all the rest of the performances.

Mr Barnes does make several valid points; why do the A.I. producers comprise a show that has the Idols delivering songs that are really outside most of their individual genres? The contest is over, the competition for the season decided and completed, but yet the performers are apparently still being challenged to perform tunes not a fit for their talents. At this point the public knows Bucky Covington is more suited for Lynyrd Skynyrd type rock, or even more country themed tunes, yet he's still singing "Superstitious", the Stevie Wonder song he sang in the show. Paris Bennet would be more suited for power ballads, not trying to be Beyonce', Kellie Pickler should be performing the Patsy Cline tune, "Walking After Midnight". She did a great job on that one during the show, why on tour is she glam rocking out? "Bohemian Rhapsody" has been on her song list in several venues, although not in this one. Instead she sang Melissa Etheridge's "I'm the Only One" and Raitt's "Let's Give Them Something to Talk About".

In Mr. Barnes article he writes this about Taylor Hicks:

    "The problem, then, is one of distinctive personality, of uniqueness, and that's in woeful sort supply in "America Idols Live."

    Hicks is the star example. He's got a measure of talent, a seasoned voice and good enough personality to be the best wedding singer you've ever seen. But he sped through "Jailhouse Rock," glopped faux emotion onto Bob Seger's "Hollywood Nights" and ruined the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down" with a slinky George Benson jazz version.

Contrast those comments with:
    "Daughtry, in contrast, roared magnificently on Styx's "Renegade" and Bon Jovi's "Dead or Alive." He and Yamin provided the best duet of the night with a Nickelback tune (a group that, coincidentally, had preceded the Idols into the Pepsi a night earlier).

Mr. Barnes ends with pleading for airtime for Daughtry, and begs Tay to never do another "Do I Make You Proud".

Well I guess that's a notch above Ace Young being assigned toothpaste commercials by Barnes.

If I ever fell down the fortunate rabbit hole that would magically deliver Hicks to speak with me in an interview I'd ask him what, if any, impact does the costumed human sized Pop-tart prancing about prior to your performance bear? Does that tooth-achingly sweet giant confection lend any negative vibes to your soul groove? OK I'm kidding...(I hate the frosted ones, in fact the only Pop-Tart I could ever even think of eating was the brown sugar cinnamon sans frosting. Haven't seen those in stores in years. There the A.D.D. kicked in - let me return to topic...)

I'd also ask him his perceptions regarding reviews that he's "distant" from his audience in several venues. Perhaps fatigue, perhaps simply reviewers' interpretations.

I'd aks him how his success so far is weighing on his psyche. Are the muses being allowed in, or is life right now in this time rushing too fast to allow their voices to be heard?

I'd ask the trite inquiry whether he has had any time to get into the studio to begin recording his CD; I doubt that he has, the tour schedule is brutal.

I'd ask about life on the Idol tour bus - inquiring minds want to know...

I'd ask if he had any thoughts with cutting any music with any of the other Season 5 performers.

I'd ask where the inspiration came from regarding his selection of the Beatles' "Don't Let Me Down", infusing a jazz touch.

I'd ask him, "So Taylor, how well is 'the Devil' dancing so far?" I'd admonish him, to lead, not follow.

Regarding negative reviews, I'd tell the man, "Hold your head up Taylor Hicks, it's like 'water off a duck's back', man."

Groove on Soulman.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Summertime Heating Up for Hicks

Taylor Hicks is currently on tour with the American Idol sprung concert series and I have read a lot of fun reviews from fortunate fans that have attended concerts in the venues near them. MJ has some posted on her BigBlog where I came across this one, by 'folkgirl', it's one of my favorites - due to her writing style. To get the full blog click on BigBlog, and scroll down, here's one of my favorite excerpts and pertinent to my blog:

    And then TAYLOR!!!! So Taylor did not come from the back of the arena and down my aisle...the ass....no he came from the side 100 section and sang Jailhouse Rock coming down into the floor area. The crowd went...well CRAZY. There is no other way to describe it. It was crazy. INSANITY IN THE DCU!!!

    Then he did the Seger song ["Hollywood Nights"]....

    Oh btw, I need to mention cause I was on the aisle...cutest thing ever was the little five yr old girls dancing swing in the aisle to MMFY by Elliot...

    All the over 25 crowd was loving Seger....pretty much the crowd went crazy anytime Tay danced...his guitar playing rocked and the band is in fact awesome. Then he did the old time songs and Marvin Gaye...good times throughout the crowd. Lets just say....Taylor is NOT spastic, but as soon as he does move a bit, the crowed would spontaneously erupt into nuttiness. And Taylor is beyond hot. It is ridiculous. Crazy hot.

One thing I am questioning regarding the American Idol concert series is why, each year, the stage and backdrops are so scantily designed with inferior props. This is sadly pointed out by several concert attendees in their recaps - apparently the 19E folks and Pop Tarts have assembled a conglomeration of "cardboard and tinfoil that serves as backdrop". Hopefully there are more than one set of stage props or towards the end of this season's concert run, backdrops may resemble the tattered and torn Pop-Tart packaging my daughter leaves on the kitchen counter...

Truly, I wouldn't think 19E should be happy to see the 'Products' they are marketing to be reflected in low-budget, amateurish productions. I'd think, 19E would want their money-making cash-cows looking good....at least for 19E's sake. The sponsor, "Pop-Tarts", apparently declines to do much more than send in Pop-Tart clad clowns, and are satisfied displaying the Idols on stage with low-rent accoutrements. Witnessing 19E pass through some positive adjustments this past season, I hope that perhaps Season 6 will see an improvement on that season's following concert tour. (By the way - auditions begin in August and include a stop in B'Ham.) Funds should be available to deck out the stage deck in style; tickets are priced on the high end side, with the Idols performing many shows on the calendar. Add to that, one cannot discount the in-your-face fact the TV show season's intake of million$ in positive revenue, combined with the sales of the contestant's CDs and the equation should equal quality backgrounds, quality staging. Oh wait, I did forget one thing - they have to pay $imon Cowell. $O let's see, TV$ + CD$ + Concert$ - $imon Cowell = cheap stage sets. There, I worked that one out.

While reviews like the ones you'll read on MJ's BigBlog circumvate fun and positive vibes, on the other side of the news (I can't squelch my Libra voice - I try, I really do, but I gotta be me), lurk dank caustic jabs.

This scathing review by snark reporter extraordinaire, Thomas Kinter, (Special to the Courant), in These `Idol' Finalists Instantly Forgettable, broils the Idols with a fire ignited by crazy hot PopStar hate.

    "The youngest contestant, 16-year-old Lisa Tucker, worked "Your Song" with soul-style elongation, but wound up with a flat celebration of her own voice that didn't capture the song's character."
    and, "Paris Bennett took similar liberties during her assault on a Gladys Knight standard that came complete with prerecorded Pips, as she overpowered "Midnight Train to Georgia." "

    Kinter recalls Daughtry as 'barking' through "Wanted Dead or Alive", and assigned his performance as attributed to "more slick sheen than raw energy" while mentioning Daughtry's hairless pate. Kinter spared no one from his gawd-how-I-hate-Idol wrath setting Hicks ablaze with, "Hicks had more load to carry, and he proved too much of a one-note act to do so.

    Hicks stomped his feet as quickly as he could, but he's devoid of magnetism, nuance or style. He bludgeoned six tunes, from Bob Seger's "Hollywood Nights" to his signature ballad "Do I Make You Proud," then came back for a finesse-free encore of "Taking It to the Streets." "

I have read comments, even on MJs Big Blog, regarding Taylor not interacting with the audience like he did on American Idol, that he reins in his act. Reactions have been that although he emits energy and maintains the 'in the zone' concentration, he does not make eye contact or connect with the audience, even when charging onto the stage for "Jailhouse Rock". I am surprised to read these comments, it's pretty imperative for Tay that he maintains that reaching out vibe he has created.

Jim Roberts heats up hype Daughtry vs. Hicks with his article from The National Ledger, or as I like to think of it, The National Alledger. in a choppy piece he expounds his theory of Chris Daughtry dominance - as if the American Idol contest continues. (In a word to Jim, "Darling, it's over. Taylor DID win and Chris did NOT.) Mr. Roberts carries on how Daughtry will finally prove once and for all to be "the superstar of American idol's 2006 finalists". Point evading Mr. Roberts, Hicks is a blazingly hot talent, AND will not allow his art compromised. Regarding this, Mr. Roberts writes, "The 'Soul Patrol' is loyal and vocal and will back Hicks no matter what type of music he puts out. But Hicks has a problem, he will only soar if he is allowed to out his own stamp on his music. If he is "neatly packaged" and pigeonholed as some sort of 'pop star' he will suffer."

"A Few Facts Rant"

Fact; any artist in Taylor's shoes would suffer - it's all about remaining true to what your audience fell in love with, Fact I doubt anyone needs to educate Taylor about that Fact. The Fact that Roberts misses the Fact that Hicks' would not get that Fact is point of Fact why his article fails in creating credibility for any real Fact. Then there is the Fact that Daughtry has signed with Clive Davis. (*Playing eery muzac* Clive... did Bo Bice's first CD.) The Fact stands that collaboration caused Bice strife. Mr. Roberts states "Chris is a rock star already and a songwriter with skills". Fact is Chris indeed has talent, but he is not yet a bonafide rockstar...Mr. Roberts concedes, "Hicks is a songwriter as well and extremely talented, but I fear he may lose the chance to "Taylorize' his career and his unique sound. Hicks starts with a bigger base and an idol win, but Daughtry has a tremendous opportunity to grow his fan base as fans of rock and roll that never watched American Idol hear him for the first time with his own tracks." Fact is Taylor is no more in danger of not being able to "Taylorize" his career than Daughtry is in danger of not being able to "Chris" his. Huh!?!...Fact, once on Idol, always on Idol, just ask Kelly Clarkson; you can run but you cannot hide, the devil is there, just in disguise...

Speaking of crazy hot, Summertime is melting Big D, feels hot as Hell, we're sweating to the beat of 100 + degrees, melded with a drippy humidity squeeze; two minutes outdoors, your liquidated to a pool of sweat, unless, I guess you've a swimming pool to quench your cool.

Speaking of pool, time is late enough for me to go take a dip.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Taylor Hicks Provo, Utah Stadium of Fire Video

Video from Tara27 Stadium of Fire in Provo Utah, Taylor performs with his harmonica and acoustic guitar one of his own tunes, "The Deal", from his CD "Under the Radar".
The Deseret News had a review posted from the Fourth of July Spectacular, with a nice review on Taylor Hicks stealing the show, It was gray-haired "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks, who stole the show with his growling harmonica and soulful singing.
This Event is broadcast to the troops via Pentagon Channel.mil for our troops to watch. The crowd was asked to show their support for American troops around the world by text messaging a special number. According to the listing on the website, this concert will be rerun at 2100 hrs (today, 9:00 p.m.ET)- Stadium of Fire: Coverage of America's Freedom Festival featuring performances by Taylor Hicks, Lee Ann Womack and Keni Thomas. (2 hrs) Encore presentation Tuesday at 1400 hrs(2:00 p.m.).