Two weeks ago, Chris Daughtry stated that he wasn’t too familiar with Stevie Wonder’s catalogue. But when he saw it contained a song called “Higher Ground,” he remembered that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had done a version of the song and immediately decided to sing it. The judges praised Chris for being original and his performance was regarded as one of the best of the night (and it was).
The controversy came when message boards and blogs went a buzz about how it was unfair for Chris to be able to simply sing the Chili Peppers’ arrangement of the song (which was obviously a more rock arrangement — different from Stevie’s original soul/R&B arrangement) and get praised. Not just praised for a great performance — but for being original. This wasn’t that big a deal however, considering that Chris mentioned the fact that he was singing the Chili Peppers’ version in his pre-performance interview, so it was no surprise that they sounded quite similar.
So last week, when the contestants heard the theme was music from the 50s, sexy alterna-rocker Chris picked Johnny Cash’s hit song “I Walk The Line.” It’s a pretty prominent song in the country community, but most of us know the song because of the Academy Award nominated hit film of a similar name. This is why it was so great to hear Chris sing the song — it didn’t sound anything like the original. And it was great.
The judges, including the most important and influential Simon Cowell, once again praised Chris for his originality and for being uncompromising. But after hearing Chris’ performance, many music savvy viewers thought to themselves, “That sounded kind of familiar.” And in a way they were right. The band Live (notable but not terribly popular) had recorded a cover of “I Walk The Line” about two years ago and Chris’ arrangement was pretty much the same. The difference was, Chris sang it five times better.
One important mystery is whether the anger over this incident will show in the votes come Tuesday night, and whether Ryan, the judges, or Chris himself will address this issue on air in the same way they did for Katharine McPhee’s pregnancy rumors.
I’m a bit confused, actually, because I don’t understand why there has been such a negative backlash against poor Chris because of this. Especially since it’s not really the fact that he sang Live’s arrangement of “I Walk The Line,” but the fact that he was so widely praised for his “originality” which, if you think about it, is not Chris’ fault, it’s the judges’.
Secondly, Chris’ version was better than Live’s, so why exactly does it matter? Which brings me to another point.
In the first season of American Idol, you might remember a fiery contestant with golden pipes named Tamyra Gray. During Burt Bacharach week, she chose to sing “A House Is Not A Home,” but the problem was that she was only familiar with the Luther Vandross version. Burt insisted she sing the song as he originally wrote it. So Tamyra re-learned the song, and she nailed it. It was incredible. All the judges loved it, and it was probably one of the best performances in American Idol history. Simon Cowell called it the best performance he’d ever seen on television. But my question to you is, would Tamyra have been considered a “copycat” had she sang Luther’s arrangement of the song and still did so well? And if so, why? Another question is, if she would have been called a copycat, why is she not a copycat for singing Burt’s version? What is the difference?
The reality is contestants on American Idol are not singing their own material. They are all singing other people’s songs. And there are lots of songs sung on Idol that have been covered so many times, most of us don’t even know who the original artists are.
So why, then, is Chris Daughtry being punished by bloggers, magazines, and newspapers for simply picking a version of the song that best fit his style of singing, doing it damn well, and, in my opinion, better than the original artist (Live, not Cash)? Especially when the biggest question surrounding the controversy is whether Chris credited Live in his pre-performance interview. For all we know, during a however long interview that was edited to be 15 seconds, he may have. Considering the fact that he mentioned the Chili Peppers the week before, odds are he did.
And as sexily devilish as he looks in that picture at the top of the page, I highly doubt family man Chris Daughtry maliciously intended to “steal” anyone’s creativity and claim it as his own. So why, you ask, has it turned into such a hot topic? The conclusion I’ve come to is that he’s the frontrunner on the hottest show on television and probably in history and there wasn’t much else to write about. Jessica Simpson wasn’t seen leaving a coffee shop with any strange men and Brad and Angelina weren’t spotted in any airports. My response? Grow up, America. Grow up.Powered by Sidelines