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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Taylor Hicks vs Puppet Regime?

Taylor Hicks, my favorite media punching bag once again getting pummeled. The man keeps on getting back up and swinging, refusing to go down.

Seems this week in what can only be compared to near VFTW style he was photographed holding a Jonas Brother's poster among crying and screaming fans as the guys arrived to do Regis and Kelly. I'd think that VFTW would have seriously loved what he was doing, but perhaps since they did not have the video up Della Terza missed the punchline. Mr. Hicks did as many a 'Worster' minded funbot might; he encouraged the JB fans and had a great time doing it. Reason Mr. Hicks was even present? He was there to get prepped for his appearance scheduled the following day.

Bigger topic than the blasting of Mr. Hicks holding a Tweenband poster, hanging with screaming and Ashley Furl-esque fans, his Broadway endeavor as Teen Angel in "Grease". It seems many in the Hicks' fanbase like to and want to hold on to what their initial impression was of the man during his run on that reality show that seems so long ago to me.

You see, during that facet of Mr. Hicks' career, and I mean 'facet' because this man is capable of so much more than what so many of the folks who found him on Idol imagine he has to offer. Most fans following him on Idol began assuming they knew him in so far as to what type of artist he really was and how his career would unfold. Taylor Hicks was pegged as the next "Elvis", the next "Joe Cocker".

It's a curious phenomenon watching how fans of someone can create what image feels right to them, regardless of what the individual object of their interest may have actually in their heart and soul. I'll elaborate, I've located some excellent examples this morning.

In a step back to Memory Lane, most who began following Taylor Hicks while he was on Idol became avid devotees to the now defunct Gray Charles site. "Gray" as he became called presented himself as a music - make that "real" music aficionado. He blogged about more than Mr. Hicks, offering introductions to bands and artists outside mainstream that he enjoyed and so garnering his own base of fans. Gray strove to cultivate an aura of elitism, of a more intellectually guided music front. Followers of Gray's consistently wrote how Gray educated them, taught them about music. He was mentor, teacher, leader to many in the Hicks Movement on the show. I've known many folks like Gray. I got it.

For a short time, Taylor became a part of the Gray Charles site as interview subject, commentator and visitor. Gray had been a pivotal blogger that built up a devoted voting block for Mr. Hicks. Taylor was depicted as this quirky and unique undiscovered bar room struggling musician with the heart of an old school bluesman. That image is what many wanted to see in Mr. Hicks, what many wanted to hear. Many want to think he's this solemn, deep, anguished soul reaching out through his music. They want to box him up and keep him this way - forever. To travel to those intimate venues and sit in smoke filled rooms like you'd find back decades ago and watch him bring back the Howling Wolf era, White Boy, Blue-Eyed Soul style.
"Smoke Stack Lightning" LYRICS

video c/o blackcat57

That's fine and dandy and a nice imagery, but man, what about The Man? Perhaps he could do that, but in his heart and soul that may be not all he wants. I'm seeing a light and a sparkle in Mr. Hicks that belies the solemnity, the whole living the Blues deal. I see a man who wants out in the sun to shine and share more than one side of himself. Taylor Hicks is a guy possessing a wacky sense of humor and perhaps that's disconcerting to some. I read how some fans question his business sense, call him nothing more than a salesman. Man, if you don't sell yourself nobody else will. That's the very trait that got Gray's attention about the guy and mine.

Besides Taylor Hicks ability to work the medium of the reality show, he indicates some serious talent as evidenced in this offering from The Rehearsals, this what was expected from Mr. Hicks rather than that post-Idol offering.

Hollywood Nights-Taylor Hicks from Strawgirl on Vimeo.
vimeo c/o strawgirl
(Hollywood Nights Sendspacefile)

Speaking of Taylor's 'salesmen' attributes, someone on MJ's wrote, "...I’m wondering when people will start realizing that he’s a lot more talk than he is action. He’s a salesman, point blank. “Sure” he’s recording his album in NYC, “sure” the DVD is coming out…(I think that was due like 1 year ago, right?). He’s a good talker. But fails to deliver on promises, time and time again.

The bottom line is, Hicks didn’t deliver. Now he’s on Broadway. Whoopee. I’m sure he’ll be getting a Grammy because of it. Ya think? Um, I don’t."

Thing is, that theory of thought and conception, whether or not you might agree with it, continues among the Taylor Hicks fanbase. Many cleave to the Gray Charles train of thought about what is real music and what's garbage. They don't want a salesman selling "used cars" and telling tall tales, they want the Truth. That's their right, hell they know what they like. I'm seeing many fans frustrated with the lack of perceived follow through with release dates and material. Honestly, Mr. Hicks has been talking about that DVD for a long time now and still nothing on the market. Time is important, too much goes by and the folks who wanted the material will have completely lost interest.

Word to the Wise, Time is Money. Your word should be your Bond. One plausible and possible theory I have; perhaps Mr. Hicks is waiting to release that DVD to coincide with his Fall CD. A double whammy marketing ploy in which each item feeds from the other. One idea, bundle the CD and DVD together, a sort of Taylor Hicks compilation of sound and video.

What hits me when reading some of the Taylor Hicks fan sites, blogs is what some of the past "Gray" members write. Things like, "Well call me selfish and narcissistic cause I dont (sic) really care if he is happy. I have supported him through thick and thin, I (meaning one of his many fans) have weathered constant ridicule and have remained steadfast in my opinion that he is talented as hell and has a large reserve of yet untapped talent. I have done my part and then some and now its time for him to do his.

If he doesnt (sic) have Idol standing in his path or Clive or any other of those obstacles then I expect him to deliver the real Taylor Hicks without excuses on the new CD.

I will not tolerate anything less. I’ll cross him off my Easter list faster than you can say carrot."

Now that's clever and funny, Easter carrots and all, but it's that mentality which challenges my way of thinking. What I'm reading is simply another version of the, "If you don't do what I want, I won't love you anymore!" ruse - add humor. All I can say is don't let the door...

Further commentary found on the Broadway topic, "I was kind of surprised that Taylor took the “Grease” gig. I had this whole other scenario in my head for him when he seemed to drop completely off the radar and was only doing charity golf tournaments. I imagined that he was deliberately staying out of the public eye and avoiding the cheap “Idol has-been’ gigs... working on a new album of all original material... departure from his “modern womp” album, something raw, bluesy, and with very minimal production. I imagined ... after he had laid low for a sufficient period of time, he would give a long, in depth interview to a writer for the New York Times or Rolling Stone... reveal the real story of how he went from adored Idol to punchline and whipping boy for 19E. There would be a groundswell of sympathy for him and he would parlay his anti-idol status by playing small, hip venues.".

This simply reinstates desire for a more traditional folk hero, like portrayed from Gray's and off Idol, perhaps deviating from the life Mr. Hicks may desire for himself. Prime example of the "This is My Dream Taylor" Fan. key word in that statement, "imagined", although I am in agreement regarding the minimalist production aspect for the next CD.

There are some Taylor Hicks hangers on who are sympathetic to his new Teen Angel venture, "...Well, what we expected was one thing; what he expected was another. Reality is something else again. I think the man is doing what he needs/wants to do for himself at this point. Does he still want to be a successful musician? Of course. When Regis asked what he wanted, Taylor said to be a musician before he said anything else."

Then there are the usual detractors who compared Mr. Hicks taking this role on Broadway to selling burgers through a drive-through window to get his name in the spotlight again. I know, ridiculous. Thing is to anyone watching to see what Taylor Hicks may be up to next, this is one Mission Accomplished. Word is out, Mr. Hicks' name is in lights - BIG ones and his images are out - in forty foot - check that, perhaps 80 foot tall glory.

You know what? I say, Groove on Soulman.

pics c/o skeeter226)


  1. Anonymous5:42 PM

    I agree that Taylor has not delivered, because he hasn't. He has promised a lot of things, made a lot of strong remarks "we're going to change music" et. He gets people amped up and then they wait and wait and wait. He made a lot of promises he did not follow through with, these were not things that people made up, these were words from his mouth and people believed him. Time is of essence and the guy is running out of time and fans are running out of patience. It feels a little bit like stringing people along, but there's no ending or result.

    Was he all that he said he was? And all that he claimed to be? Was he really the guy he wrote about in his book? I don't think so. I think he just says what he thinks he's supposed to say and then doesn't know how to live it. I don't believe when he says things, so I don't understand why people actually believe anything he has to say - he hasn't shown himself to be a "man of his word" in any way. I'm not into making excuses. I see things for as they are.

    There's a common theme of feeling "let down". I don't blame anyone who feels that way. Wishing he was a "stand up guy" is different than wanting him to be a puppet.

  2. You know, we ought to market one of those blow-up punching bags in the likeness of Taylor Hicks. It might be just the outlet for all the ex-fans who say they have walked away but keep posting their disdain for him on Taylor's fans' sites. Just an idea.

    As for me, I'm just enjoying being a part of his journey. I see a talented multi-faceted entertainer and musician too and so far, I love all the sides he's shown so far.

    As for that DVD, I have heard that he's waiting for clearance because of all the tags and covers he used at the Warfield. Don't know if it's true, but I do wonder how many of the clearances might need to come from his old label.

  3. Sunny, do you think that Gray was into serious music more than Taylor was (is)? I'm not challenging you, I'm really curious because that's an interesting theory. I'm not even sure if that's what you meant, but let me think this through:

    Gray creates a blog that's got up-to-date info about Taylor Hicks, plus an education in serious music. That makes the fans think of Taylor as an educator (by association).

    So when this serious music educator (Taylor) takes a gig on Broadway some of the fans feel betrayed-"Hey! That's not what you're about!" When maybe performing anywhere in anything is what he's been about all along.

    Seriously, I'm not being argumentive. I think you may be on to something.

  4. Trixi6:56 AM

    I have no pre-conceived image of Taylor. He continues to surprise me. I believe Taylor is a smart man and will continue to do what is best for him.

    As far as the DVD, Cd's etc. Since un-signing with 19E I'm sure the are a lot of legal loopholes to work through.

    Sign me a patient fan.

  5. I totally agree with everything you said. Great blog!

  6. caryl, that's it in a nutshell. Gray was very influential in creating a certain image and vibe that bled onto Taylor. You said, "When maybe performing anywhere in anything is what he's been about all along." That's about it right there.

    He admitted it on Regis actually and has in other interviews. Obviously Taylor views this gig with "Grease" as a learning experience - he said as much. What did he say was his goal, what he was trying to learn? To be a better 'entertainer'. That's what he lives to do.

  7. Anonymous wrote, "There's a common theme of feeling "let down". I don't blame anyone who feels that way. Wishing he was a "stand up guy" is different than wanting him to be a puppet."

    You have a point there regarding wanting a 'stand up guy' and a making Hicks your Puppet. That's one of my thought processes.

    'Your word should be your bond' is quickly becoming so antiquated a phrase nobody really uses it anymore. One thing I have said in the past, Mr.Hicks falls short regarding communicating with his fans.

    (Mr. Hicks might take a look at what Jason Castro is doing - that down home flavor approach. Young Jason has some heart felt and brilliant ideas and they're working to cement his expanding fan base. Jason is proving to be an apt communicator.)

    Initially when Taylor was being featured on Gray's blog I thought that was the beginnings of a potentially brilliant marketing program. Gray had his following and had projected such positives regarding image and sound for Taylor. The information was there to listen to - Hicks was more accessible. Even then, though Mr. Hicks sometimes seemed elusive. Now, he's often MIA when it comes to delivering information and that is a major frustration among a large group of Hicks' fans. It's a big turn-off for them.

    Regarding the DVD, one common theory of thought and its been lightly touched on by Taylor/handlers a while back - the clearance of 'tags' utilized during the performances in the production.

    Thing is, if that is a factor slowing the release of the DVD, it may never see the sales shelves. Artists can be very touchy about their music and its employment.

    I'm not a lawyer so have nothing to go on with this concept, but if that's the case, what would help Mr. Hicks more than anything is to bring any trouble issues to his fan's attention. That indirectly would create some pressure on anyone from blocking incorporation of these 'tags' into the songs.

    That certainly might alleviate speculation, make the fans feel a part of things, like back in the Idol and "Gray" days. The lack of information after a certain point loses its magic and mystery. lol

    lola, I'm with you for the most part - this venture of his on Broadway simply fascinates me. He's like this big ol' adventurer - one that sings.

  8. Anonymous9:30 AM

    "One thing I have said in the past, Mr.Hicks falls short regarding communicating with his fans."

    That's the under statement of you year.

    Great blog Sunny!!

  9. Anonymous9:09 PM

    I often wonder if winning AI went straight to this man's head. He did get 63 million votes or something like that. Maybe he thought a built-in Idol audience meant he didn't have to work as hard and maybe he even thought he could promise things and not deliver, but that his fans would still be understanding enough to overlook it. Wrong about that - people get tired of waiting, lose interest and leave. According to his fansites, he does have some fans still sticking with him, but no where near what is used to be like.

    I hate to say this, but I wonder if all the rumors about him are true about him being difficult to work with. I would imagine there is a certain amount of kissing up you have do with record label people. You are dealing with huge egos here and I would not be surprised if they decided to put Taylor in his place. Kind of like no where to be found, except Broadway where Idol failures usually end up.

  10. Anonymous9:15 PM

    As far as the DVD we really don't know why it hasn't been released. It could have something to do with the fact that it was not going to be released in BlueRay which became the chosen format shortly after they filmed this.That could have put a clog in the whole production.
    I do agree that some of Taylor's fans are much too hard on him. They expected after back to back tours he would record his CD in a few months and go right back out on the road. Come one what artist does that? They are not super human. He needed to chill. All his change in label and management also may have had something to do with when he could release new material without having to pay percentages to former managers, agents etc. There are any number of reasons. However, I don't think Taylor should be expected to spell out his business arrangements and contracts to his fans for them to mull over. I think he has done quite a lot since he has been off tour. I check in everyday on one or two of his fan sites and there always seems to be some news of new things he is doing, much more than some other artists I follow. It's the fans that want what they want and want it done yesterday that cause angst amoungst the fan base. My word to them is Chill and just enjoy the ride. If they quit trying to drive they might enjoy the ride more. LOL.


  11. henry89:52 PM

    posted earlier, for some reason things weren't working right.
    Won't try to recreate it, just want to say, good blog, I agree with the most of it.
    I will say this, I think there is just way to much hand wringing over Taylor. The mans gonna do what hes gonna do and he will be fine in his way. I have no idea what he thought, I don't pretend to read his mind, but I never had any notion that he would change the music world. He didn't have the power to do that, no matter what he might have said (and I think he was misunderstood) I don't know why anyone would think that he could.

  12. Sunny, you've hit on some salient points. Talking about the blues...that blues/soul injected audition (I even heard bluegrass) drew us all in. He was able to successfully use this foundation into everything he did on Idol. So, I have no reason to expect that he won't do the same on the forthcoming album. If it takes a country bent, his style will work well. Would love to hear some Hank Jr-esque stuff. We'll see.

    Btw, I faved your blog a lonnnng time ago, even before finding Gray Charles. Ah, those were the days.

  13. Hi iheartjimi, thanks for that regarding the blog. Man, would be too cool to have some Hank mix wouldn't it? Hicks has a song I really like on a pre-Idol Cd, "West Texas Sky" - it's never mentioned anyplace, but it certainly carries a nice flavor. He almost could qualify as an honorary Texan with that tune. He captures the Texas "feel". lol

    henry8 and Dee, y'all are singing the same song. I know, leave the guy alone...it is his career, blah blah blah. Where's the fun in that? Besides, he might gain insight from the meager mind meanderings of others... We know he reads. ;)

    He need not spell out his business ends to fans, but there's a difference in communication and spilling the legal mumbo jumbo of his musical endeavors. Fansites certainly get information here and there but often it is based on speculation and doesn't pan out.

    later -

  14. Anonymous3:40 PM

    If you want to keep fans interested, you need to communicate with them. If you want any kind of "relationship" to work (business or personal) communication is what it's all about. Taylor sucks at communication and therefore fans lose interest. Gray Charles (and believe me I did not love that site by any means) did a good job at keeping fans connected to the artist. Once that went away, Taylor lost momentum and has continued to do so.

  15. I visited Gray's for updates but sometimes it just got a little 'much' for me. My fave site was WOOO Radio.

    Gray did a good job regarding the fan connection for Taylor but so much for that I guess.

  16. Anonymous9:42 PM

    Great blog. I just don't understand this "Taylor doesn't communicate with the fans." I must have 2 hundred CD's sitting here and not one of those artists have ever communicated anything to me. When I hear that one of my favs has a new album, I buy it if I like it. I have no clue what they do in the interim and frankly, I don't really care.

  17. "If they quit trying to drive they might enjoy the ride more."

    I agree with you 100 percent. In my opinion, that's it in a nutshell. Sit back, relax, enjoy.

  18. Anonymous2:27 PM

    Taylor Hicks is one of a kind. I want him to be happy, do what the H### he wants to do. I say more power to him. I truely believe he is a very talented, multi-task person and throughly enjoy listening to his music and waiting to see what surprises he has instore for himself. You go SoulMan!! A devoted fan for life! TRuff