The American Idol winner nobody would want to be? Is the name, Taylor Hicks, destined to wind up as the moniker meaning loser even though he won season five of that karaoke reality show? Is that all that "Taylor Hicks" will bring to mind when the time passes and this reality show karaoke contest rolls on, the guy who won yet really lost in the long haul?
Article after article concerning the show reflect a negative view of the guy. The past few days has seen local Dallas entertainment writer, Preston Jones, throwing out Hicks' name adding yet more negative references. Friday, November 14, Jones wrote, as he talked up David Cook's new album, "Most other male contestants — Taylor Hicks, where have you gone? — have slipped almost completely out of the public consciousness.". Then again today, I read that Jones includes Hicks in yet another piece about the new David Cook album - certainly he must be a fan. Jones writes, "...forming an identity while being careful not to, well, end up like season five victor Hicks. It’s not for nothing Cook only name-checks the most visible Idol offspring." David Cook had made references to Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken.
Preston Jones is just one of the many writers in entertainment writing land who utilize Taylor Hicks' name as a scapegoat example of what not to shoot for should you land on Idol. Hicks' name being cited as synonymous with failure at your shot at fame and success. A large part of the articles that come across the internet seem to enjoy mentioning Taylor Hicks' name as the butt of a joke, a reference for being a 'flash in the pan' or plain old 'loser'.
Interesting that sales of a reported 800,000 are seen as being a bad thing. Considering the music industry pitfalls today, the change from plastic purchases in favor of on-line iPod, iTunes buys; include the internet savvy who find their way around actually purchasing any music and download illegally for free, it's not an embarrassing number.
I'm guessing since Taylor won with as much flair as he did, combined with as much support as he had, hell, he made David Hasselhoff cry like a little girl; sales less than double platinum equal failure in the eyes of many including reviewers and especially the show's Money Men. Too the CD Hicks released after his win did nothing to further the image he came to represent on the show. He came out as a Ray Charles/Joe Cocker kind of performer and issued a riddled with plastic Pop oriented CD. Most of the folks who loved that album were not all in it for the music, instead mainly fans of the show, then became fans of the man. Of course there are some exceptions to that statement.
Finally, after a two year span, Taylor Hicks released his compilation CD of his songs recorded prior to the show, called "Early Works". Since it had been so long since Hicks hit the Idol stage and so many articles have passed hailing him as that 'Winner who wound up Losing', "Early Works" sales were less than notable. Along with the release of that pre-Idol CD, Taylor has issued statements he's finally releasing "Whomp at the Warfield" filmed in the San Francisco theater, previously aired on HDNET and AOL television in October, 2007. Add to this news, he's readying a new CD, promised to be available early February, 2009.
Most artists with new albums due out start spinning a song or two from the offering well in advance of the record coming out, make one of those promotional little music videos. Hicks never made a video for his eponymous Idol release, the folks with the show obviously were just not that into marketing the record or the man. Doubtful he'll make a video for this new body of work either.
That said, it may be unnecessary since Hicks has worked out a marketing plan that loosely resembles a national video campaign; instead of filming the single, he's performing it live. Hicks as his followers know, had a role as the Teen Angel in the Broadway production of "Grease" this past Summer. The guy enjoyed positive press and made a favorable impression on the show's producers. He's been asked to resume that role in a national touring production of the show. Mr. Hicks has planned with the touring production management to perform a single from this upcoming CD following the show. Details on how this will unfold are not public yet, likely won't be known until that first show debuts December 02 in Providence, Rhode Island. Telling point in all of this, how marketing his music may work within this type of environment as well as how reviewers and writer's in the various local markets view and cover him and this novel approach.
Taylor Hicks is obviously not afraid to jump in with both feet as evidenced in 2005 when he first entered the Idol auditions. He broke show molds with his brazen difference from his hair color to his harmonica walk breaking the top 24, Hollywood Week.
The skeptics accused Hicks as purely acting a role, during the show and since - really to a degree, he was. Taylor worked to market himself as set apart from the usual show contestant which ultimately worked in his favor. Now again, Taylor Hicks is working to market himself in a different way, set himself apart. This is the first time a national theater touring production will feature their starring draw in a way not associated with the show itself. What should be noted is the man is still as open to the new, the novel approach, as he was when he went for it on that reality show. What will remain to be seen is if he will generate interest, draw in and affect any critics, reviewers or entertainment writers to see him as more than that Idol Winner who ultimately lost.
I'm not claiming any objective stance regarding Taylor Hicks, I've rooted for him in my way since he first caught my attention in January 2006, continue to do so. Here's hoping that this man, told by Simon Cowell in 2006 he'd never win the show, then did, now being written up by so many critics as that guy who should never have won, finds his way.