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American Idol: Bo Bice and The Mystery of Credible Rock Radio

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My evil twin is attempting to get me to write about Paula Abdul and her tirade against nail salons, which I’m not saying was undeserved.

And, believe me, as you know by now, I am an individual well aware of the snark potential in that storyline (talk about low-hanging fruit just ripe for the pickin’).

Nevertheless, even I draw the line at articles that venture too close to discussions of, well, nail fungus and stuff.

I’ll leave that to, say, Bill Nye the Science Guy. Yeah.

No, what I think really needs to be said in relation to American Idol at this moment in time concerns Bo Bice and “Credible Rock Radio.”

Specifically, I’m keying on a felicitous—not—quote from a recent Rolling Stone, to wit the comment by a certain KROQ DJ Stryker, who opined:

“Credible rock radio won’t go near it” (by which I assume Stryker means American Idol and, therefore, Bo Bice’s music, since Bo Bice came up through American Idol).

(KROQ, Los Angeles, is the Credible Rock Radio station at the feet of which all other rock radio stations bow.)

And that morsel of insight was under a Rolling Stone headline that blared: No Dice for Bo Bice? “Idol” runner-up faces an uphill battle to win over rock fans.

Okay, let’s take this one pebble at a time.

First, let’s consider who has been knocking down Bo Bice’s dressing room door lately:

Lynard Skynard, with whom Bo performed before a rollicking crowd in Helena, Alabama.

The Ides of March, who fell all over themselves to praise Bo’s rendition of their hit, “Vehicle” (in stores now).

And Badlands, who—even before Bo blew up the AI house with his a cappella version of “In A Dream”—was pegging him as a rock frontman on their website.

Then there’s that little matter of Richie Sambora, one of the great rock guitarists of all time, who not only performed—and I do mean performed—on Bo’s studio take of “Vehicle,” but Richie also is swinging his axe live behind Bo when Bo does Leno (“The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”) on July 6th.

So my first point is that while Rolling Stone and the Kevin & Bean-ers at KROQ in L.A. appear—quite sincerely, I might add—to continue to foster the myth that there is credible and non-credible rock ‘n roll these days, actual Credible Rock Musicians are lining up and taking a number to “go near” Bo Bice’s music.

And that means . . .?

It means that it doesn’t matter what a person sings or how he sings it.

To The Establishment, including Credible Rock Radio (yes, Virginia, they becometh what they claim to abhoreth), your music is the least thing that matters in determining your “credibility.”

Frankly, what really matters is whether your star was created by—you guessed it—The Establishment (which includes Credible Rock Radio and which does not include American Idol, since AI deigns to allow the unwashed masses to vote).

Then and only then is your star as a frontman for rock—for [[cough, cough]] rebellion and anti-establishmentarianism and non-conformity and questioning authority and espousing power to the people—bona fide.

IOW, so sayeth The Establishment:

A rocker is “credible” only to the extent he or she was developed through establishment modes.

Huh?

And seriously, didn’t all this get started simply because Bo happened to have long hair?

I mean, really, if Bo Bice had had the exact same voice and stagecraft and musical tastes he does have, but he looked like Clay Aiken rather than a distant cousin of ZZ Top, do you think it would even have occurred to the American Idol TPTB, including Simon-Paula-Randy, to categorize Bo Bice as a “rocker”?

No, Simon-Paula-Randy would have said the same thing to Bo that they said to Mr. Aiken: “Wow! How does that big, rich, powerful voice come out of that skinny white body?” (or words to that effect).

Simon-Paula-Randy never would have told Bo Bice in a Clay Aiken body—regardless that he was still Bo Bice and sang like Bo Bice and performed like Bo Bice, “Wow! Finally, American Idol has a real rocker on board!”

Why not? Because it’s not about the music.

(Actually, try this at home, folks, under the influence of a good set of headphones: take the long hair and gnarly image away and Bo’s voice sounds remarkably similar to that lovable old crooner, the antithesis of rock, the anti-adolescent angst crooner, the ever-bon vivant Tom Jones.

And just what is Tom Jones up to these days? Well, if you want to hear him sing, but don’t want to pony up the big bucks, just tune in the Cartoon Network and check out the opening theme song on “Duck Dodgers.”

Oh, yes, it is too him!

I’m serious: don’t miss it.

And if you do want to pony up the big bucks, Tom is still out there croonin’ and the ladies are still swoonin.’

Which leads me to observe: I thought during that particular period in American history (a/k/a The Heyday of Tom Jones) women were burning bras. But, no! They were throwing bras! At Tom Jones! While he sang lyrics such as, “talking about the little lady, and the lady is mine /Oh-oh-oh-OH!

But I digress.)

Recently I spoofed on the very idea of attempting to classify a singer as a “rocker” and then to use that label as a standard against which to evaluate the singer’s “credibility.”

It’s one thing to say a person is a “rocker,” as in he likes rock music, which fundamentally is this:

music usually set to four-four time, with emphasis on the second and fourth beats, and with the major sound produced on guitars, bass and drums.

It’s quite another thing to attach a comprehensive, and more or less rigid, set of personal standards and industry biases (determined by . . . who?) to the term “rocker” and then to judge that person, and consequently his music, accordingly.

Of course, there are people—again, quite sincerely—who argue that rock basically is a religion, that it is—I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP— a “central and coherent ideology, as viable as any other ideology competing for primacy on the world intellectual stage,” and that it is (or must be) a “self-contained ‘movement’ that adherents choose to join.”

Okaay. (Acutally, David Townsend—relation to Peter?—you do an interesting analysis there, my man.)

But you know what?

This is the only way judging a singer’s “credibility” as a “rocker” can make sense: if rock is indeed a club with a Big Rule Book by which The Establishment (a/k/a Credible Rock Radio) judges just who is and who is not a club member in good standing.

And, may I remind that, in this scene the actual music is the least consequential factor in determining whether a person is “in” (i.e., “credible”) or “out” (i.e., not “credible”).

If this were not true, Bo Bice’s version of “Vehicle”—a wondrous, rollicking, head-thumping rendition of a “credible” rock hit by a “credible” rock band sung by a great rock singer backed by a great and “credible” rock guitarist loaded with “credible” hard rock riffs—would be all over Credible Rock Radio.

But it’s not.

The prob comes in because, like all Establishments, the people in The Establishment are the last to know that the gig is up.

They continue to think that they are the gatekeepers, the holders of the magic pixie dust, the Be All and End All. That it is impossible to breathe, much less flourish, without their bureaucratic imprimatur of “authenticity.”

Rubbish and quaint snobbery, I say!

Fact: there was a time in human history when rock, at least for many people, was a movement and a lifestyle (though, fortunately for the next generation, it was a somewhat vicarious lifestyle for most).

But that’s just not true today.

Rock today is not a movement, a club, a lifestyle, an ideology, or a statement. Individual songs, or even bands, may fulfill those functions or serve that purpose for some people, but rock itself is now one of many musical genres.

It is one of 1,929 music channels on America’s dish network.

Sirius sat radio, for example, lists seemingly endless rock categories. Early Classic Rock, Later Classic Rock, Deeper Classic Rock. Jam Bands. Classic Hard Rock, Pure Hard Rock, Alternative Rock, Classic Alternative Rock, Hair Bands.

And then there’s Kid Rock, who sometimes sings with Sheryl Crow, who is listed under Adult Album Rock.

Even the incredibly iconic Long Hair of Rock no longer rocks—certainly it doesn’t rock, i.e., shake up, the world in any way, shape or form.

You see a man with long hair today, you might think he’s an artiste or possibly that he makes coffee at Borders (or that he stars in a cable access show broadcast out of his basement and complains that his parents, with whom he still lives, forbid him from listening to his rock music at the “appropriate” volume).

But you don’t immediately flash to scenes of protest marches, campus sit-ins, “flower power” bumper stickers or experimental spoken word fusion discs about lizards (thanks, Jim Morrison).

Hello, this is not 1969. Long hair simply doesn’t stand for allegiance to rebellion. It doesn’t shout anti-establishmentarianism. It doesn’t register resistance to The Man.

It is just another personal fashion expression, a choice or a happenstance among an infinite array of personal expressions. It takes its meaning, if any, from the individual, not from a movement.

I mean, my plumber has long hair and he’s such a Star Trek freak, he never got the joke in Galaxy Quest. Figure.

Anyway, of course there will always be identity music, one of the attractions of which is the sheer idea of belonging to the club, complete with its own lingo and uniforms.

Emo, for example—and not to be confused with the big bird or its other brother, Big Bird—like Goth and Punk (also known as “bands with a gloom edge”) before it, has a dress code for members in good standing (naturally, however, it depends on whether you are going for the “indie emo look, the nerdy emo look or the dressy emo look”).

That’s fine. At least there is an honesty there that conformity to community standards of dress and style is part of the fun.

But to cling to the chorus that your music stands for rebellion and freedom and anti-establishmentarianism and “doing your own thang”—but then to dismiss a singer as “not credible” simply because he was discovered outside the mainstream of The Establishment (including Credible Rock Radio)—in fact, discovered mostly by the people—well, the mind boggles.

Fortunately, la de da, as Simon Cowell said, Bo Bice won’t need the self-appointed Credible Rock Radio to succeed. But then again, the time is coming when, who will?

*** idolhabit HOME ***

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  • SFC Ski

    What is this “credible rock radio” that you speak of? I haven’t been able to string those three words together for about 10 years now.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    A-fucking-men, Mr. Sticker. And don’t forget Carlos Santana and Trey Anastasio and Galactic and Willie Nelson.

    Then again, a little birdie tells me that ClearChannel is eschewing Bo’s version of “In Your Heaven” so as not to hurt Carrie Underwood’s — the logic reportedly behind the move is that Carrie won and deserves first dibs on airplay. Problem is, there is confusion over what is Bo’s “single” — “IYH” or the B-side, “Vehicle.” Obviously, this will affect Bo’s chart standings — his “IYH” ended up No. 1 on the Pop chart and No. 2 on the Hot 200 singles chart. Not bad at all. Still, may he have done even better if “Vehicle” had been the single outright? And what doofus at AI came up with the lamebrained notion of having Carrie and Bo release the same damn song?

    Them’s the breaks, I guess. In any case, Bo with Richie Sambora rocked Leno with “Vehicle” last night. We have Bo’s LP due in the fall and the promise of hearing him wail on Santana’s next offering (I spoke with someone involved in the now-completed recording and this person says it literally sizzles). It’s all good.

  • Becca

    In my opinion, Credible Rock Radio needs to shut up and actually listen to Bo before judging him. Sure, they can say all they want about how Bo was on a pop show, his image is stained from it, no one will touch him because he will forever be associated with American Idol, but here’s the fact: he didn’t win. He doesn’t officially have the title, so why are they on his case? It doesn’t matter how a person gets discovered, only that they’re here. Credible Rock Radio (or so they say) needs to strip away every sterotype that Bo has gotten and look at him as an artist and not a product of a talent show. Listen to his voice. I mean REALLY listen. Think back to the high you got when you were a kid from blasting Lynyrd Skynyrd in your room. Or from cranking up Aerosmith and The Allman Brothers. Just take it all in and then tell me that he doesn’t belong with Credible Rock Radio. If you still don’t agree, then maybe Credible Rock Radio should take a break and listen to the music. After all, isn’t that what the radio plays?

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Actually, so-called Credible Rock Radio, especially that branded with the ClearChannel or Infinity imprimatur, plays leadins to adverts. Sod ‘em… Bo hit No. 1 anyway — and hitting number one is not his raison d’etre anyway. Never forget, the best music rarely gets the awards and chart rankings anyway.

  • Kim

    TOM JONES? Hmm, I must have missed something when listening to the Biceman. But just sit back and enjoy. Mr. Bice will be around for a long time to come. I don’t even think he realizes how big and loyal his fan base is.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Becca —

    What you said, all the way!

    My point exactly: how ironic that it is those who pride themselves so much on exploding stereotypes and establishmentarians who impose those things most strongly on artists “they” didn’t help become popular.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Kim–

    Okay, I was goofing on ya a little with the bit about Tom Jones (although I stand by my observation that they both have big, lush baritones).

    The point in this context is that any good singer can take his voice in a variety of directions.

    Tom Jones didn’t become a true crooner until he found out that worked for him. Then he rode that into stardom that lasts even ’til today.

    I have every confidence that Bo is going to be huge, with or without the help of–ahem—Credible Rock Radio.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    SFC Ski —

    Yep, you’re right.

    And that’s the point: these guys call *themselves* “credible rock radio.”

    What a hoot!

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Natalie Davis–

    Bo’s pressers call his single “double-A sided,” meaning they are claiming to be pushing each side equally.

    Bo’s version of IYH smashes Carrie’s to smithereens. They truly don’t even seem like the same song!

    So the chuckleheads who decided to have Bo and Carrie release the same song actually just set up a direct comparison that Carrie could not win.

    Not saying Carrie won’t be bringing it and have a great career. She will. But Bo turned IYH into a rock ballad and that was quite an accomplishment.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    I know it was called “double-sided,” but my own copy (bought in a brick-and-mortar store, not a digital version) clearly lists “IYH” as the single and “Vehicle” as B-side. There is word of many confused fans who bought digital copies via Itunes or whatever and bought “Vehicle” alone, not realizing that it didn’t help Bo’s chart standings. In the first week, “IYH” — the officially accepted “single,” whatever the industry decided to label it — sold 106,000 copies, according to SoundScan. How many more would have sold without the confusion? We’ll never know.

    But yeah, Bo’s version was far superior to Carrie’s IMO; he absolutely made it his own. And you are so right about the chuckleheads…

    I, for one, though am tired of the Bo vs. Carrie thing. The show is over. Done. Bo and Carrie are pals — she even sang backup on “Vehicle.” For me, Carrie Underwood — nice kid and talented and all, but not my cuppa — is a nonissue. Wouldn’t it be cool if we didn’t have to deal with some stupid competition that doesn’t exist anymore? Won’t get that wish… Some Claymates are still resentful against Ruben Studdard, which baffles me. Perhaps if I were an AI fan it would be understandable to me, but I am not.

    Man, just reread my comment above: Can I say “anyway” some more?

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Or you could be like me and never re-read . . . lol

    Yeah, the competition will always fascinate some and it can’t help but be part of the pic for someone making observations on AI-related stuff.

    I always say the music universe is big enough for many stars.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Except I am an editor by trade. Damn, this is embarrassing, lol…

    Yeah, lots of stars. True talents, though, they are a rarity. Both Carrie and Bo have talent. Let’s hope it serves both of them — and listeners — well.

  • Laurie

    I wonder how “credible” rock musicians would do in a competition like AI. Most of them wouldn’t dare, and not just because they think it’s silly. I think it would be incredibly difficult to go out there on their own, outside the comfort zone of their own bands and perform like all AI contestants have to do. It might seem easy, but it’s grueling.

    Bo Bice introduced America to rock music in a completely fresh and new way. He improved old standards. He covered bands that had not gotten a great deal of attention lately. I for one had all but given up listening to it. The “credible” rock world should thank him for the extra attention (read $$) they’re getting!

    I can’t wait for his album to come out! In the meantime, reruns, downloads and his “Recipe for Flavor” CD will have to suffice! He’s great!

  • Vickie

    I have heard it said that some artists today admit they never could have gone through the constant critique that the Idol contestants have to go through.

    Becca:
    So much of what you say could apply to Clay. If people would stop tagging these people with the AI label, quit trying to pigeonhole them and just LISTEN, they might be pleasantly surprised.

    I am, first and foremost, a Claymate(and I am one of those that does NOT resent Ruben. IMO, I believe it turned out exactly the way God meant it to.) But, I love Bo. I was rooting for him, and I love his music and his style. I am proud that so many talented people are wanting to work with him. I believe he will do well.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Seriously. Personally, I find AI cheesy and most of the music hideous, but super props to Bo and Constantine for having the guts to try a different route and make it work for them. Heh, the real competition will be to see which *band* benefits more, Sugar Money or Pray for the Soul of Betty… (I suspect it will be the divine S$, but Betty ain’t bad at all.)

    Indeedy do on the $$$: It was interesting during the competition when artists Bo covered — Gavid DeGraw, Skynyrd, Los Lonely Boys, Ides of March, Edwin McCain — saw boosts in their own record sales after he sang their songs. And let’s not forget “Vehicle” songwriter Jim Peterik, who is enjoying royalties from the song he wrote more than 30 years ago.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Laurie,

    I have heard/seen several established, popular and mega-wealthy from their singing singers let it slip that they wouldn’t have lasted a week on AI.

    The one that really sticks in my mind is one of the guys in N*SYNC—the dude who was in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” I think.

    The wag around the business is that P. Diddy, for example, needs three weeks notice before he could go on stage and sing “Old MacDonald Had A Farm.”

    IOW, there’s a reason someone invented computerized tuners and lip-synching. Stuff you can’t get away with on AI proper.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    I think Sugar Money wins that round.

  • Laurie

    The funny thing is that when Bo got panned for doing “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin, that was what I thought was really brave! After that I went online to learn more about him. He just keeps getting more interesting! Really unique! I read that he just put his finger on the list and picked it randomly. I have a hard time believing that because the lyrics fit in with the other songs he picked, and plus he seems so meticulous about arranging his music. Randy was right, he can sing anything (in his own great way, of course!) Not many “stars” would be willing to put themselves on the line like that.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    And with such good humor and grace. “Corner of the Sky” was a perfect choice for him — Bo is an individual traveling to his own beat, whatever anyone has to say about it.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    And Bo has said that his debut disc is going to include some tracks he wrote–so that has potential to be even more interesting.

    I read he wrote a song for a friend who lost a young son. It sounded very poignant.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Bo’s a fine songwriter, which those who have heard Recipe for Flavor and/or his tune “Changing for the Better” already know. I really am looking forward to the disc’s release.

  • Soapyjeans

    Now you are finally catching on. TPTB are treating Bo Bice exactly the same way they treated Clay, and for the same reasons. They didn’t find him, he was on a TV show therefore he’s not credible. Balderdash!

    What really makes this interesting is that TPTB will probably still spout this rubbish as their stations fall by the wayside due to dare I say, fewer and fewer listeners? People have caught on to the establishments superficial stars, their pre-packaged fluffs that lip synch and they are showing their distaste for radios insistence to pick and choose who they deem to be the years “current flavor”. Look at your tour sales, why would I pay big bucks to watch someone lip synch from the balcony when I could watch them on my tv and at least see them dance, because frankly it’s all about their moves.

    The masses have discovered “real” entertainment, ie stars who can really sing at a drop of a hat and have a personality. If you’ve ever seen Clay Aiken in concert you’d immediately understand why once you’ve been entertained you can never go back to those lip synchers, phonies.

    Bo Bice is now in Clay Aikens Club, and I suspect like Clay the lack or airplay won’t affect his sales or career. Because people know what they want, they know radio is nothing but play for pay.

    Radio will soon see it’s demise because of their arrogance. Ipod, internet and satellite radio are gaining momentum. Radio dj’s and other so called “artists” who dispel Bo or Clay are just cutting their own throats.

    Radio, who needs it?

  • Laurie

    I think radio dj’s would gladly play what people request. Management picks the “approved” tunes nowadays. Rock radio is not as much about what people want to hear as it is about musical politics.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Well said, soapyjeans!

    I also believe that music radio is in for a radical overhaul over the next years.

    It will be going to more and more custom content via podcasting, sat radio, net stations etc.

    Not to mention peeps creating their own archives and never having to venture out of their iPods, only adding stuff to it as they come across music that does it for them.

    yes, Clay got this treatment also (I challenge anyone to come up with a clear—audible (as in based on the tracks)—reason why Aiken’s music didn’t fit Big Radio’s playlists.

    In fact, the same thing happened to Creed. Radio hated that band b/c it became huge WITHOUT RADIO. At one point, Creed was selling 5,000 discs a gig out of the back of their van. This took POWER away from Radio, and Radio didn’t like it.

    But I find it extra ironic when this occurs in the context of rock music, which supposedly is about music bubbling up from outside The Establishment. ha!

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Laurie—

    The lack of ability to influence air play was one of the major shocks suffered by a whole demographic of music lovers who, after being out of the game for a while, came back to music (and cd buying) because of American Idol.

    They thought it was the old days when fans could actually help launch a star.

    They organized and made serious efforts to get airplay. What happened? Nothing.

    Even Justin Guarini fans were highly committed to getting him airplay. Thousands and thousands of calls and emails later, nothing.

    And we don’t even need to mention the efforts of Clay fans to get their man on the air. Not only did most of their requests for play fall on deaf ears, these fans often were subjected to ridicule. And they are the radio “customer”!

    So the whole thing is quite a scene.

  • mtess

    i just wonder who are the people behind this so called The Establishment or say the KROQ station? Most specifically when were they born? I am sure if they were at least 40 yrs old, they will not give Bo’s music the snobbery it doesnt deserve. In fact, they would as they say lap it up?
    Funny thing is if Bo’s music is not appreciated by them and which is mostly the rock we heard in the 70’s and 80’s, then these people behind the Establishment must be taking rock stars of the latter kind, i.e., from the 90s to the present. Now how many of these are really really considered credible rock when credible rock to my understanding are those that came from the 70s and 80s? ARe these people being hypocrites or pretenders?

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Hypocrites, pretenders . . . the main thing is power.

    If a singer can become popular and a star without The Establishment, then The Establishment loses power.

    Also these people seem to forget that rock is a trans-generational genre. You are correct, mtess, to ask about the age group involved, because it is those over 40 who CREATED rock.

  • Cynical Bitch

    Credible Rock Radio? Hah! Every “rock” station by me plays 3 Doors Down and Matchbox Twenty, which are as corporate as they come. How can they play that stuff and call themselves credible?

    You’ve got me intrigued about this Bo dude. Anyone got a link where I can listen to some tunes?

  • http://blogcritics.org/author.php?author=Cerulean Cerulean

    I’ve only seen clips of him singing “Vehicle” and one Lynyrd Skynyrd song. He didn’t seem to reach the intensity of the originals, although he gets credit for song choices, especially as he was probably not even born when those songs came out. Well, he is a little like Tom Jones but he is a good singer. I guess all the American Idol singers seem a little manufactured. The songs aren’t coming from within. When you go through that process to get there, I guess that’s what you get. If I see him I’ll check him out some more to be fair. I could have missed something. I guess regular rock or “credible” rock radio might be wary of him having come from that star-making machine, but if he’s good, they should give him a chance. There should be more emphasis on talent whereever it comes from.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    GarageBand.com has some links of early ’90s Bo. You can find lots of links on fansites such as Bice Squad.com and SugarMoney.net (currently down for refurbishing, alas).

    Mr./Ms. Cerulean ( I don’t want to assume), I disagree on the “songs coming from within” thing when it comes to Bo Bice. When I hear him sing, it is obvious to me that he feels every word. Mileage varies on that perception, of course. But listen to Carrie Underwood’s and B o’s versions of “Inside Your Heaven” side by side (an in-store listening station is a good way) a nd compare. The differences between the two — particularly in terms of meaning and emotion — are stunning.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Cerulean — that’s my point, why isn’t the emphasis on talent? It doesn’t matter how someone was discovered.

    As for the reaching deep thing, I agree with Natalie Davis and urge you to listen to Bo’s version of “Inside Your Heaven” as well as “Vehicle.” It made a believer out of me!

  • Laurie

    The only similarities between Bo and Tom are they are both baritones and wear leather pants sometimes. I would be very disappointed if Bo is ever in Vegas singing for panties!

    I downloaded songs I liked from AI as it was being aired from http://www.overmused.com. As I listen the more I can hear the subtle touches he added to each performance, like I said before – very interesting – like a signature howl to end “Satisfaction” or the entire “In a Dream” for that matter! This guy’s truly a musician, not just an entertainer…his original stuff is excellent too, lots of layers…can’t say enough good about this guy!

  • ValE

    Sticker, my husband said the same thing about Bo sounding something like Tom Jones – 3 months ago! We are aging hippies in our 50’s. When I first heard Bo, I said,”Something like David Clayton-Thomas – and he’s great!” and my husband said, “Yeah, but more like Tom Jones,,,” This, from him, is high praise! I think we are typical of the many boomers in Bo’s fan base. He reminds us of the music we loved back in the day and adds his wonderful voice and great showmanship to produce something unique to Bo, who is not a copy of anybody but a really exciting new presence. “Legit” rock radio? We haven’t listened to it since the heyday of WNEW. It doesn’t exist any more, as far as we’re concerned.

  • Heather

    Sticker, enjoyed reading your perspective. But just don’t see the Tom Jones similiarity at all. Like ValE, the first person who came to my mind was David Clayton Thomas.
    There is no question that Bo has awakened a sleeping giant, (boomers with disposable incomes) those of us who gave up on listening to any radio stations except those that played 70-80’s music. He has tapped into a market that is ready, willing and able to support a musician that makes us remember what good music used to sound like. Music with passion and soul.
    When he sang for the love of money, I was floored, totally incredible as were all his performances. His original stuff on the Recipe for Flavor cd is outstanding! Anyone can listen to a short clip by accessing sugarmony.net The only thing down on that site is the message board.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    ValE —

    Also see my # 7! And, in terms of vocals, it is high praise from me, too.

    But my larger point (besides having a few grins) is that it’s dumb to try to pigeonhole singers, at least to the extent that happens with AI v. the Industry.

    A good singer can take his/her voice in any direction.

    And you’re exactly right: it’s the way Bo weaves in so many I-don-t-give-a-rip-about-The-Establishment influences that makes him so unique and compelling as a singer and performer (and, I think we will soon be able to add, as a songwriter).

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Heather–

    You are SO right about the Boomers with disposable income thing . . . and how they can be brought “back” to pop/rock music by a singer such as Bo.

    While I thought Constantine (for a variety of reasons, not all related to the music), there were several times my show critiques were about being blown away by Bo.

    It took him awhile (IMHO) to totally get in his groove on AI, and the venue was especially kind to him (by that I mean, his vocals did not come across nearly with the power and effect they will when he records and performs in a different setting), but WOW.

    He’s simply compelling, like you can’t take your ears off him.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    eta: #36 should read “Constantine . . . was the one to beat”

    sorry!

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Hi, all–

    Several of the comments on this article touch on a theme I wrote on a while ago about boomers, etc. and “whose music is it anyway?”

    You might enjoy reading this.

    If you have a comment, it’d might be good to leave it on both threads so this discussion can be woven together.

    This is a major point with me and this thing with “Credible Rock Radio” tells me that the suits still aren’t getting it!

  • Gail B.

    Never would have compared Bo to Tom Jones (I LOVE Tom Jones), however…I was listening to him sing “Vehicle” and his voices reminds me of the deep striking baritone of Neil Diamond. Bo is bringing his own fans along on his rise in the music world. He is setting a new precedent on how to get to the top. Say what you want about American Idol, but it allowed Bo to be seen and heard by millions and he gained fans all over the world. Cream always rises to the top and Bo will rise to the top of the music world, with or without the “establishment”. He is simply an amazing entertainer with an incredible voice. His charm and riveting appeal had me from the very first time I saw him sing “Drift Away” on Idol and I voted for him every week after that. Especially since “Whipping Post” the following week blew me away. Someone mentioned that the original artists of most all the songs Bo sang on Idol are enjoying renewed interest in their music because of it. I have never been a “rock” fan, never GOT most of it, but something in Bo’s dynamic, powerful outpourings just grabbed me from the git go…and now I am appreciating “rock” as a genre much more. I hope rock radio gives Bo a chance, but if not….I think he will do very well without it….

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Gail B. –

    “Bo’s dynamic, powerful outpourings” — yes!

  • Shiroz

    Credible Rock Radio has it’s head up it’s ass. What was once the mainstay of the 60’s and 70’s no longer exists. Why? Probably because it has labeled itself as “credible”. The supposed non-conformist 60’s spawned a new era of rock. Rock was judged on how it was perceived by the masses. Credible rock radio would have been a joke. Maybe it’s us old non-conformist baby boomers that recognize that we don’t need our music pre-digested by the mass market. I think Bo is just the catalyst behind a change many of us are looking for. Who gives a shit if he was on AI, it’s the music that matters. If Southern Rock is your thing, than he is the real deal. I personally believe that Bo could care less about being “credible”, and this “old time” rocker is in total agreement.

  • Linda

    I see that some people are wanting to see what Bo is about–great! If you want to see him, and I really recommend seeing in addtion to hearing, go to this link and download for free his Whipping Post performance.

    Go to the watchidol dot com site and click on videos and go to top 10 boys and you will find Bo’s Whipping Post performance.

    At the same site, you can look at other performances. Especially recommended are Vehicle, Freebird, In a Dream (a capella and FANTASTIC), For the Love of Money, and a lot of others.

    If you go to the black_label dot com site and click on tunes, and download “Promised Land” (free) you can hear Bo singing the intro.

    However, the best I have heard from him was at Bonnaroo with Galactic. Here there is a charge, but WORTH IT. It is $11.95 for all of the songs Galactic did. The two that Bo did with them were Whole Lotta Love and Saturday Night Special. Bo is one person who sounds better live than recorded with controls. Go to the bonnaroo site, click downloads, and find Galactic.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Shiroz — yes, even the self-label “credible” is a true hoot.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Linda — thanks for all the info!

  • Linda

    Sticker–you’re welcome! Bo is so good I want other people to find out also! Be sure to look at the short intros to the AI performances. Another reason Bo creeps into your heart is the person he is. He can give a raw, rough, exciting performance, and then you see that inside he is a humble, honest, funny, down-to-earth guy. I forgot to mention to look at the finale night when he did Sweet Home Alabama with Lynrd Skynyrd. Amazing!

  • Pam

    You hit the proverbial nail on it’s head!! Very thought provoking! None of the “greats” that performed with Bo would have done so if they didn’t see potential on the “Southern Rocker”!!! If he wasn’t good they wouldn’t have wanted to be associated with him! Let’s face it — He’s On His Way!!!

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Pam —

    Thank you! And, you know, that’s what’s so irritating about this: it would be one thing if “Radio” said (although I don’t agree), “Well, Bo isn’t very good, so we’re not going to play his music.”

    But to say he’s not “credible”? Because of HOW he was discovered? Puh-leeze.

    Make it an issue of whether THE MUSIC is good or bad—I can live with that.

    Anything else is just ridiculous.

  • Carolyn Vuurmans

    I just want to say Bo Bice is a breath of fresh air.This is the first year i ever even got into AI.I just happened to be flicking threw the tube one night and saw BO AND HEARD THAT WONDERFUL VOICE AND I WAS HOOKED!He is the real thing and I know by all of his websites(sugar$.net& bicesquad.com & bicesquad.net he already has a large fanbace) so put that in your pipe and smoke it.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Carolyn —

    Yep. And I hope his fanbase turns out for him big-time in the fall (when his cd comes out). That is THE way to a statement.

  • Eric Olsen

    great job Stick! Ultimately, some brave station PD will say “why not?” and then the othe rsheep will follow

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Yes, how they will tremble when they confront the fact that Bo Bice is singing with Santana.

  • Eric Olsen

    but they have to protect their reps, man, cause rock radio has such street cred and shit

  • ValE

    Sticker, thanks for referring us to the other article. I enjoyed it very much. Bo is another artist who appeals to a very diverse audience. I’m a huge Bo fan and I hang out on websites where Bo is loved, lusted after, and worshipped –
    by many middle – aged women like me!We ARE the people who cannot be considered a “niche audience.” There are more boomers than younger people anyway!
    Loved your description of today’s grandmother, BTW. I don’t have kids but otherwise you couldlbe talking about me.
    I think Idol is a cheesy show and possibly rigged, but I’m grateful it exists because it gave us Bo! How else was he going to get the exposure he needed? Idol brought him out of obscurity and into the hearts of the fans who are going to make him a huge star (I hope!) This is a guy who was going to quit the music business if he didn’t make it by the time he was thirty.A year ago, Bo was managing a guitar store in Hoover, AL. Then, he auditioned for Idol, and the rest is history – a history that is just beginning! GO BO BICE AND HIS FANS OF ALL AGES AND DEMOGRAPHICS!
    Also loved your suggestion that songs about gangstas and ho’s are REALLY the niche market.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    ValE–

    I thought you might enjoy that other article and I’m glad you did.

    I hope you also got the chance to read the comments. There were some there from 20-somethings who talked about swapping songs with their parents, about how kids and parents were tuned in to all kinds of rock and Sinatra . . . it really was great . . .

    Someday they’ll be playing Led Zepplin in nursing homes b/c that will be the residents’ music.

    I don’t care if AI is cheesy (although I like to poke at it as much as the other guy). I love precisely the fact that it bypasses the gatekeepers (to a large extent) and allows talent to bubble up from places the industry doesn’t even know exist.

  • Carolyn Vuurmans

    DIDO! VAL ANYONE CAN GO TO THE STORE AND BUY BO’S CD AND JUDGE FOR THEMSELFS!BO ROCKS HE HAS BROUGHT BACK REAL MUSIC WITH A STAGEPRESENCE I HAVE’NT SEEN IN YEARS!

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Watch Bo’s “Tonight” performance with Richie Sambora—with a bonus song and interview—here,

  • Jules

    The “credibility” issue slays me. If you are great, you’re great. If you inspire a diverse (by age/nationality/gender/what have you) group of fans to search for your original music, to download your performances on AI, to pre-order your single and to breathlessly wait for your full CD, while checking out groups they either never listened to before or forgot about (Skynard, Allman Bros. etc.) because they heard you sing their songs and were inspired, then, with respect to the so-called “credible” rock stations and “credible” rockers, you have credibility. Bo is more than a rocker. His music and performances are very soulful (and I agree with others who have said they prefer him live) and you can tell listening to his original music (and hearing him talk about his influences), that his music spans many genres. That is what makes him great. That and he seems to be true to himself and his music and he makes no apologies for going the AI route. He spent 15 years writing, recording, and performing and was not “discovered” despite his raw talent and stage presence. He paid his dues and AI gave him the opportunity to bring his talent and his music to those of us who otherwise would never have found him. He’s going to be huge one way or another.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Jules — you are spot on!

  • ataylor

    Sticker,
    LOVE your commentary on Bo Bice and the radio music scene! Your observations about “credible rock radio” are so on-target!

    The whole idea that some people or organizations think that they can judge the credibility and talent of performers by whether they belong to their club or not is so laughable. It’s time that we hit the radio “Establishment” where it hurts.

    The same egocentric viewpoint is expressed by other industry types in genres other than rock… in a slightly different way. In particular, pop music is ridiculed as being substandard and since it appeals to a lot of people, must be well, should I say it?….common. The viewpoint is “Since we are the only ones who can judge who is talented or authentic or worthwhile, then anyone or anything we don’t like must be worthless, and should be made fun of, criticized or shunned…just to prove how smart WE ARE.”

    Well, I have news for the music industry insiders…there are lots of consumers who like lots of different music and money still talks. I ignore the self-proclaimed “experts” and buy what I like.

    And one final thought…the most overused word in describing music or television today is “cheesy”. Can we get through a single day without it? I challenge everyone to try. Let’s use that thesaurus for something else than propping up your monitor and expand the readers’ vocabulary.

    Thanks again, Sticker.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Refrain from using “cheesy” to describe American Idol? How about “vapid”? “Superficial”? “Slight”? “Shallow”? “Brain-dead”? “Smarmy”? “Cheap”? “Plastic”? “Frivolous”? “Trivial”?

    I’ll give AI this: It introduced most of us to Bo Bice. And it had its fun moments.

    Speaking of which, has anyone caught CBS’ Rock Star: INXS? No calling it “cheesy”… :)

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    ataylor–

    Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed my article and added your thoughts on the subject.

    I think you’re exactly right that there are viewpoints which dismiss anything that is liked by a significant number of people as bourgeois.

    If a record sells a million, it must be fluff—because the “masses” are sheeple, not smart and sophisticated like “moi.”

    Of course, we all enjoy discovering something off the beaten track in music and joining with others on a similar beat. But that doesn’t make something enjoyed by lots of people *automatically* lacking in merit.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Point well taken. Each artist must be judged on her or his own merit. But Let’s be real: Many things that sell millions *are* fluff — not all, to be sure, but much of the stuff the masses embrace *is* crap. But yeah, one shouldn’t automatically hate someone’s music or label them a sellout just because it’s popular.

  • Margaret Loper

    Fabulous article sticker.I am so glad I found this sight. I have been trying to get Bo played in Mobile, Alabama for two weeks on any station that I could find a hint of a genre, they so love to adhere to, but to no avail. They all tell me how much they liked him and wanted him to win but they somehow just can’t fit it in. Like it is a conspiracy against “the Man”. I don’t get it. The local top 40 told me it wasn’t quite a party song. Funny they played Jessica Simpson’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking”. Is that a country song? No offense to Jessie, she is georgeous and seems real sweet but that song is pitiful. They always play the pretty sexy ladies songs. I noticed they did not play Clay’s songs. Okay, he may not be sexy but he had the record sales and alot of young girl fans. Which leads me to believe either the Disc Jockeys or the Program Managers are sexists or there is some kind of money, payola, ties from record producers to radio stations owners to help them keep control of the industry. I think we have the makings of an “Enron Scandal”. A true “Radio Killed the Rock Star”. Power to the “Girls of Rock” and any Rock guys who want to hear the music we are willing to pay for. Don’t make us burn these bra’s. It’s been a few years.
    Regards’
    Margaret Loper

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Mr. Sticker mentioned Bo Bice’s performance on the Leno show, which originally aired on 6 July. If anyone is up late, I heard word that it would be rerun tonight (early Thursday morning) on NBC All Night, which airs after Carson Daly’s show (about 2 AM Eastern). Check it out if you’re up and about in the wee hours.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Margaret Loper:

    Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed my musings.

    I’m going to be writing a lot more on radio.

    Believe me, it’s almost impossible these days for fans to influence radio play in a meaningful way.

    Playlists often are even created by computers, using programs that evaluate songs by their tempos, etc. and using parameters such as “only 4 female leads” per 30 minutes.

    The best thing fans can do to support an artist such as Bo is participate in the underground (internet) fanbase. Find a couple of sites that keep you up to date, watch Bo’s appearances on tv, buy his discs, go to his shows, participate in fan-initiated events that bubble up (cd release parties), etc.

    Radio is more or less marginalizing itself by not realizing the power fans have today to discover and support music all by themselves.

  • Margaret Loper

    Mr. Sticker,
    Thanks for the new leads as to how they come up with the playlists. I had no idea! But you just really relate many of my thoughts and a whole heck of alot that I wished I had thought of.
    This whole Bo experience reminds me of when I was in retail and the numbers of sales associates begain to be calculated by the “number crunchers”, accountants, meaning those who had never worked a sales floor before, CONTROLLED how much help we needed, as compared to a previous years sales totals, that may or may not be compared to same day as the year before….Duh? What the hell does that mean? They said people expected less help. What a farce.
    Is this the only place you will be blogging?
    Regards,
    Margaret

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Hello, Margaret.

    I publish here regularly, but my home is here and you can also click on the link to all my AI reviews for the season.

    If you want to leave comments, you can do so here on blogcritics by clicking on the “see all posts by Sticker” link at the top and scrolling down to the article you are interested in.

    Thank you and regards backatcha,
    Sticker

  • Carolyn Vuurmans

    BO CAN’T BE STOPPED,HE IS GOING TO BE A ROCK GOD, HE ALREADY IS TO ME AND MANY MANY OTHERS! RADIO WILL GIVE IN BECAUSE THERE’S SO MUCH OF A DEMAND!

  • linda

    I would think that with satelitte radio gearing up as competition, that regular radio would be more receptive to listeners in order to keep them. Any thoughts? I agree that Bo fans need to keep updated online. If any new fans have gone to sugarmoney.net and found the forum down, it should be up in about a week. They have had to reorganize it because of the huge amount of traffic that came upon it all of a sudden. The forum is an extremely positive one!

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    If radio gave in to demand, you would be hearing wall-to-wall Clay Aiken by now.

    Unfortunately, radio really doesn’t care much about demand. They have their ways of determining playlists and the fans can pound sand.

    Gone are the days when calls to radio stations could launch someone into the stratosphere.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Linda,

    I do think sat radio is going to provide some competition to Old Radio. So is internet radio as time goes on.

    I think the major trend is one of custom content. When you can store 5,000 songs on an iPod or some other device, and develop your own playlists and selection modes, and continually and easily add new music as you discover it, you will, in effect, have your own personal radio station.

    You are not limited to what you can find in stores, even internet stores.

    You can find a guy broadcasting on the net the complete—and I mean *obscure*—Sinatra out of his basement in Cleveland. You can listen to a net station playing world music from Indonesia.

    It’s true that these delivery systems don’t deliver one thing that radio does: a shared experience (i.e., songs that millions of people are listening to in the same time period). But I’m not sure how much people will miss that.

    A person will always have “his” music—the music that evokes certain times and memories in his life. And that will be shared with those who shared those times.

    But arenas full of people who know the words to the same 12 songs—that may not be as common as it is now when more and more customize their music playlists apart from Old Radio.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    And that is a *good* thing. The minute old radio moved away from playing quality music and moved toward exclusive corporate control (I am not talking about advertising, per se), consultants,and nationally created playlists, old radio became bad radio. I would rather get tips on great songs to hear and artists to investigate from trusted friends with taste than from some ClearChannel stooge.

  • Donna

    “Someday they’ll be playing Led Zepplin in nursing homes b/c that will be the residents’ music”.

    LMAO!! (I sure hope so)!

  • Laurie

    I’ve been listening to Dick Clark’s “America’s” Music Survey the last few weeks. They say these are the top 20 “favorite” songs of the week. On what do they base this research? On radio play? CD purchases? I’m thinking not on listener requests since none of these stations take requests. Sometimes when they play some of those songs I change the station because I’m so tired of hearing them. Why are they afraid of playing something new or taking requests to see where the “customers” will take them and really get a feel for what America wants? It’s so illogical…

  • Magpie

    Salut Yall,
    Did anyone take note that Congress is investigating “Radio Airplay”! I viewed it on CNN. The ruse appears to be that, someone in the biz is paying the D.J.’s to promote certain artists. Which explains that “Boots Are Made For Walking” spectical.
    Au Revoir in Alabama,

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    No surprise that payola is still the name of the game —

    Sony BMG Agrees To Pay $10M in Payola Investigation

  • http://blogcritics.org/author.php?author=Cerulean Cerulean

    I feel it’s like that in all media. Pretty much everything is coopted. Glad some of it came to light. God bless Eliot Spitzer. He’s the New York Attorney General who prosecuted this. It is wasn’t for him, there’d be almost no pressure on corporate America to behave at all. Sometimes I try to write reviews here to counteract the corporate maneuvers, as best I can discern them.

  • http://www.bobice-bolieve.blogspot.com Jewel

    Your article rocks (unlike KROQ, as in what a KROQ (crock)!. You ‘hit the nail on the …’ you know the rest. Anyway the Tom Jones part, crossed my mind once or twice too, but in a good way ha!ha! Just don’t hear a man sing like a man much these days. Hubba Hubba. Thanks for the creative insights.

  • http://www.idolhabit.blogspot.com Sticker

    Jewel—

    Thank you, especially because I love to rock!

    Yeah–good one: KROQ = CROCK! lol!!!

    And I also meant the Tom Jones part in a good way—Tom took his beauty of a voice, found what worked for him and what the market wanted, went for it and he’s still packing ‘em in 30 years later! Hubba hubba indeed!

  • Clay4Me

    Bo and Carrie well ummm these two can’t hold a note, music was to loud and these two should of been elimated alot sooner. If I could of voted it would of never been these two. However I can’t as I don’t live in America. Please do better next year. And don’t take what the judges say, it’s up to you people of America, not the judges.