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Taylor Hicks and Surviving in the American Idol Hamster Wheel

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Unique to Season Five, we saw five contestants score record deals. A brilliant move for the show's marketing team, and a godsend for the new recording artists, a win-win for all concerned, you might think. Flipping the other side of this shiny coin, while as a viewer you may revel in the success stories of these fortunate few, it dampens the effect and glamour of winning this show.

Compile this factor with the focus on Simon Cowell and his obvious delight in fostering the feel of continued competition, aspiring contestants should think long and hard about the personal costs. Now six years into the show, it feels like American Idol is much more Survivor or Big Brother than Star Search.

Of course the music industry is rife with competition, top of the charts is where it's at – the common conceptual image of prestige and success. That said, the pressure and emphasis levied on the American Idol success stories seem amplified, magnified, and a more oppressive force than found for artists who find their way to stardom outside the show.

The contestants on American Idol are locked into a perpetuating cycle revolving around comparisons against one another. Is American Idol on its way to shooting itself in the foot by the very concept it is founded upon – competition? It looks, as the seasons pass, that the contestants are contracted into an infinite circling competition, thrust into a rivalrous miasma trapping them inside that pulsing blue virtual hamster wheel of contention against their fellow contestants. Profiteers to this situation include the producers, 19E and of course, Simon Cowell.

In this recent article from People Magazine titled, "Simon Trashes Jennifer Hudson and Taylor Hicks", Simon says, "As for Taylor Hicks, who won season 5's competition, they (Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson) loved him. I couldn't stand him. I didn't get it," Cowell snapped, adding that "at the end of the day you have to find a bona fide recording artist. Just because you win the show doesn't mean you will sell a lot of records. Chris (Daughtry) is the one who sold the albums, not Taylor."

This man digs his barbs into the meat of the most profitable area of Idol. Controversy. By Mr. Cowell's very contentious nature he creates buzz for the show and that creates viewers. He is an intelligent, savvy man who innately knows how to butter his bread. Commentary about Taylor Hicks, whether positive or negative, gains immense attention which is Mr. Cowell's main role on the show.

Hudson, who may have only finished 6th in 2002 on the show recently has won an Oscar for her acting debut in the movie Dreamgirls. Cowell's commentary in this recent article, attributes Idol for her success. While the show may have served to assist her in gaining attention, credit should be placed on her shoulders for the advancements she has made for herself.

This People Magazine article emphasizes a continuing prime news making example, Mr. Cowell continues to link Chris Daughtry and Taylor Hicks, and in this piece, in the same sentence. Apt commentary regarding Chris Daughtry's sales and success, would be more in-line to compare his CD, Daughtry and how it is selling against Nickelback's All the Right Reasons. (Daughtry is currently at number 2 on the top 200, All the Right Reasons at number 15.) By meshing and comparing apples with oranges, Simon keeps the in-house competition alive, and the American Idol wheel turning.

So Bice and Taylor Hicks certainly played their part in opening up the Idol cage to a wider field of aspiring artists, gaining acceptability outside the tried and true Pop Star image originally in the show's prospectus. This season I'm seeing several of these new contestants monkeying Idols that have come before. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but too much of 'seen that, heard that,' becomes a bore.

One example I'm talking about is this season's popular contestant, Chris Sligh. He entered the show bringing attention to his curly afro, and in his own blog had said his fan base should be named the 'Fro Patro' (no that is not a typo). He mentioned in his first audition to the judges that his goal was to "make Hasselhoff cry." Hasselhoff, apparently touched, shed tears on camera from the audience as Taylor Hicks was crowned the winner last year. The second week of competition, Mr. Sligh performed one of the songs that was a stand out hit for Taylor Hicks, Ray LaMontagne's "Trouble." He's being obvious in his attempts to travel ground already trodden, to jump the Hicks' train to attract viewers. His saving grace is the guy's got a great sense of humor.

Watching Simon Cowell I can tell he already has a sweet spot for at least one of the contestants. He also seems a little more acid tongued this year, as do Randy and Paula. That may lie in wake of the really limited standout performances we've seen so far from this year's crop of Idol Wanna-Be's. Might this shed any light on the condition we are seeing with this season? More attention is being garnered by one of the girls in the show becoming a household name by racy on-line pictures being submitted by past pals, and a disgruntled former boyfriend over some of the girls with superior singing skills like Melinda Doolittle. One of the guys in the competition, through no real action of his, has gained notoriety for being supported by Vote For the Worst, a site that proclaims they are dedicated to revealing the truth as they see it behind Idol.

My point, the singing this season is being eclipsed by the behind the scenes machinations and negotiations. Yes, truly this show is looking increasingly like Big Brother or Survivor with on-line participants 'virtually' included in the show (VFTW). Last year at this time we were reeling from the singing performances, this year the show is becoming steeped in manipulations and alliances.

Last season's fourth place finisher, Chris Daughtry is discovering first-hand it's not as easy to shed the Idol chain as it is to switch his wallet chain. In an interesting article written by Michael Endelman of EW.com, he interviewed Daughtry while the singer visited Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian. Shockingly Mr. Endelman wrote that Chris Daughtry canceled the Question and Answer session that had been planned, then proceeded to critique a collage of snapshots from American Idol designated for the hospital scrapbook. He wound up signing it, commenting, "How did they get all these cheesy photos?" (Nice commentary.) According to Mr. Endelman, following an introduction by the hospital administrator as "Chris Daughtry from American Idol,"

    the tightly wound singer snaps. He turns discreetly to a member of his entourage and whispers, 'Are they even going to mention the album? Are they even going to talk about the band? It's just Idol,' saying the last word with special disdain.

Considering that the show is using his song, "Home" off of the CD, Chris Daughtry is going to find that wheel's gonna keep on turning.

Simon Cowell's jabs at Hicks being outsold by Daughtry have legs only when spoken within the Top 40 Nickelback rock boundaries. Chris Daughtry's sound is in a more popular genre. What Taylor Hicks proved successfully last season (along with his fans), is that the coercion techniques that Simon Cowell, the King (apparent) of Opinions That Matter can be defeated. The Idol cage could be infiltrated by one other than the 'chosen' or should I say, ideal contestant. His obvious manipulations to influence the show's outcome can be overturned. Simon Cowell with his ego will never forget that.

What has also been seen and proven in the media, and in the marketing of the Idols is win or lose, American Idol runs somewhat like in The Wizard of OZ, the contestants and viewers are are subject to the 'man behind the curtain.' Should viewers get too wise to the man behind the curtain, this juggernaut hit could be on its unwitting way to creating a self-consuming monster.

Regarding The Soulman's CD, referring to units sold, those numbers don't carry an accurate assessment of the fan base Taylor Hicks has developed. I prefer Taylor Hicks in his natural state; no I'm not referring to him in the buff, I'm talking about him being sans the overproduction trappings cast into his CD by the producers, i.e. Matt Serletic. Hicks carries naturally that throwback vibe, he is not Pop mainstream, nor does he want to be.

Regarding his fan base; I don't think it is a matter of it diminishing, I do think that many who became fans enjoyed Taylor Hicks the natural musician. The man thought to have distinctive choices in music. The man possessed of a growly, raw vocal sound. The man who delivered Ray Charles' "Georgia" heard on-line last year, in a manner that would have made Ray proud. By Serletic selling Hicks on the concept of broadening his fanbase, it weakened the potential of the product. One thing Taylor Hicks needs to remember: that Idol wheel may keep on spinning, but sometimes the hamster has to jump off. Bo Bice has picked up on that and eventually so will The Soulman. Now if we can just get the keys away from that man behind the curtain.

Groove on.

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  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Nice article….

    The components of Idol politics seems somewhat interesting but to say that any of those contestants had a shot outside of the show, to me, seems alittle ridiculous. We all know that record sales equals a trend and isn’t necessarily a benchmark of talent or self accomplishment.

    It’s not like the winner of that show always goes on to be the best choice. What happened to Taylor also happened to Ruben Studdard.

    Oh well, that’s just my opinion… But, if you really wanna hear some real talent outside that Cookie Cutter then check out:Von Lee Smith

  • robertsmyth

    Thank you for your insigtful comments. Finally somebody who isn’t afraid to tell it like it is!

  • http://www.taylorhicksblues.blogspot.com Jewels

    Thanks Brian, for the link to Von Lee Smith. Talk about some blue-eyed soul, wow! BIG, BIG, BIG voice. Interesting young man to be sure.

    True, there’s many options regarding finding good new musicians and music, but A.I. sucked me in that first year. It’s intriguing to watch how the show is morphing and changing from its beginning.

    Regarding Ruben, I really liked the Big Man that year, mistake made that first year out of Idol was to trust folks who didn’t deserve it.

  • musicworld

    You raise good points. Sadly for Hicks, if his fans are indeed boycotting his record in favor of ‘the natural musician’ they are doing him a lot of harm. Constant media reports of Taylor’s rapidly diminishing sales are harming his potential career terribly – and so much negatvie press might ultmately ruin his concert career.
    I would advise his fans to purchase the CD, or several as in the case of the fans of a certain rocking idol. Why not support Taylor in the best way that we can now, thereby keeping him afloat – and ensuring that he will be around for us to support and enjoy in the years to come?

  • Josie

    Jewell…Very well written!
    I saw this on tv, I have been searching to see if I could find a video; much ado was made about Hasselhoff crying, I think Chris might need to do a little more researching. That statement alone turned me off to even wanting to hear Sligh(he is not as sly as he thinks he is/ nor funny) I cannot remember exactly which late night show, but David told what brought him to tears was a statement by the guy who was with him. I want go into more details for I cannot remember the exact words. Heaven Knows more incorrect information needs to be spread over the internet.

  • julie

    If Simon had been at Taylor’s concert in Knoxville last night, he would have had $$ signs in his eyeballs. Chris has nothing on Taylor Hicks and his band. Taylor knows how to connect with the fans and his band knows how to rock. As for Chris..when he sings does he have any eyeballs???

  • Shelly Baby

    Nice article, but the only reason Taylor Hicks won is because Bear Bryant died. For many years people from Alabama had only the Crimson Tide to be proud of. Now that those days are gone forever, you have a state that rabidly needs something, anything, to be proud of and lay claim to.

    It was a huge factor in Reuben’s win and possible the biggest factor in Taylor’s win.

    Reuben however could sing.

    All those people that will pick up the phone and dial in for the homeboy do not translate into people who will go out and buy the album. Hence the low sales for Taylor and Reuben.

  • Carol

    Excellent article. Much of what I have been thinking but could never have put into words. I don’t know enough about the music business to even begin. Taylors shows are fantastic and hes going to be just fine, his way in his time. Chris I’m not so sure about, I don’t think he is as grounded as Taylor, but time will tell.

  • Betty

    Thank you for telling the real story. Apples and oranges indeed!

    Taylor’s talent and charisma will carry him forward for a long, long time. Taylor is going to be just fine.

    Chris is going to lose his voice sooner rather than later. And he needs to learn how to smile. And maybe do away with those chains.

  • stephenj

    Who on earth is Bear Bryant? I’d like to think that people all over America voted for Taylor, and not just from Alabama…. I don’t think one state could sway the votes that much.

    And Taylor has a fine voice.

  • Connie in Alabama

    Nice article, but the only reason Taylor Hicks won is because Bear Bryant died. For many years people from Alabama had only the Crimson Tide to be proud of. Now that those days are gone forever, you have a state that rabidly needs something, anything, to be proud of and lay claim to.

    Wow, I didn’t know that a state as small as Alabama was so powerful. Especially since it was almost impossible to vote from Alabama because the lines were so jammed.

    Taylor has fans all over the world. He was given a shirt from those fans which represented over 30 countries. His CD is awesome and his fans are not letting him down. His concerts are sold out and most of us have bought more than one copy of his CD.

    If he had had one of his songs on the finale of a popular TV show like 24 just like Chris and was given some radio time he would be showing different numbers. But gold and platninum for a first CD is nothing to complain about.

  • Sugar&Spice

    Say, are those Kellie Pickler’s Red High Heels in the upper right hand corner of this blog? Oh, my bad, they are Dorothy’s ruby, red slippers.

  • MJC

    #4….

    Believe me, Taylor’s fans are NOT boycotting his CD, that almost makes me laugh. IF there is negative press, it’s coming from AI, Clive Davis. Simon Fuller and Simon Cowal, whose at his worst when Taylor is at his best. They are behind the negative, if there is any, because they can’t control Taylor, fine by me.

    We have bought Taylor’s CD. The fact of the matter IS TPTB, they are with us, they are the very dark side, not getting their way makes them trouble to deal with.

    Taylor’s concert tour, which I call THE TOUR is very successful, the reviews and interviews on TV, Newspapers and online have been sterling and positive. While THE TOUR has just begin, I’ve not seen anything that says his fans are not out in force and also those who’ve not experienced seeing Taylor on a stage, live and in person.

    At the tour, I have seen the reaction of the crowd. Nothing could be better than this and Taylor gives a fantastic, moving performance. This will be a long sold out tour, with much to be gained.

    The radio stations whose lines are fired up by requests from Taylor’s fans, myself included, are difficult. I mention the evidence of play lists which are highly suspect, force feeding the public to hear crap from people like Chris Daughtry, the wonder boy lacky of Clive Davis. Oh that was rich, Davis description of HOME, the exit song for AI, HA. Davis said that he loved the song, because you see, no other IDOL had EVER written his own music TILL DAUGHTRY???? That was surely a JOKE! Totally NOT true. Taylor has been writing music for years and wrote four of his songs for the CD. This sabotage is the type of thing we as Taylor Hicks fans have to put up with and so does Taylor.

    I personally am sick of all the comparisons, there is NONE. There was ONLY ONE winner of American Idol, TAYLOR HICKS. He deserves respect and we give it to him, TPTB do not. Their loss and our gain.

    No, there is nothing negative coming from the SP, if anything we are more than excited and passionate about these concerts. They will be a very postive part of Taylor’s career and he has no intention of stopping now.

  • http://www.taylorhicksblues.blogspot.com Jewels

    Manipulate Much? Davis said that he loved the song, because you see, no other IDOL had EVER written his own music TILL DAUGHTRY???? Clive puts out this false statement to simply push his guy, Chris Daughtry, into a more favored light.

    That said, what about this year’s show winner? Included on Taylor Hicks’ post-Idol CD, “Soul Thing”, “The Deal” and on the special disc, “Hell of a Day”. Just pure false spin coming out of Davis’ mouth.

    Let’s look too at how this man treated Bo Bice; Bo had written some of his own music too, music more well received on the dual disc than the tunes pushed on him by Davis. Speaking of Bo, he is in the process currently of doing some touring in intimate venues to present his latest songs he’s written in collaboration with Gary Nichols and Chris Tomkins, they are really good. Check out the Bonafide Bice for complete info and videos. I have a few on my site at A Bo Bice Story for more if you are interested.

    Regarding the CD, I don’t think the Soul Patrol is boycotting it by any means nor do I think this is the case. Really with the CD on its way to Platinum, it is not the failure being painted. The SP is only so big though, and to reach outside listeners, the product needs to be marketed. Too, no matter how Taylor enjoyed working with Serletic, many of the tunes have an over produced feel to them. Plus the type of songs are verging on mainstream Classic Rock compositions which only will translate so far in the current music marketplace.

    The folks “behind the curtain” have not made much effort to promote him, look at the release of the single – taking so long to get it out – look at how now, on this year’s show, nobody mentions his name except in a negative way. He wasn’t their choice but he was the voter’s choice. He made some A.I. history with that win.

    Encouraging too, the sold out concerts on his tour schedule. Of course, no one associated with Idol is mentioning this achievement for Taylor either.

    Regarding the Crimson Tide references and Alabama that’s a load of crock, but made me laugh. Speaking of which, my daughter attends the University of Alabama although we live in Texas. She’s a pre-med student and the University has been providing her a great college experience.

    So… ROLL TIDE!

  • Pedro

    So let me see the SP’s are tired of the comparison between Daughtry and Hicks, but they can’t resist the temptation of mentioning Daughtry in anything they say. Get over it! You can’t pull the wool over everybody’s eyes. Nobody is forcing anyone to listen to Daughtry, his CD speaks for itself and it’s a darn good one. Now stop making comparisons and try to help Hicks sell his CD without disparaging Chris Daughtry. This is pathetic.

  • MaryS-NJ

    I think this is a really great op ed.

    At the end of the day, American Idol is a reality TV show that makes millions in advertising revenue. It does that extremely well. But the pursuit of the almighty Dollar trumps art and distorts what matters in music, IMO.

    Last season I got sucked into the American Idol vortex seredipitously because I heard some guy was singing “Change is Gonna Come” on the TV in another room and liked his voice enough to go see who it was. There was this shaggy, gray haired guy who looked nothing like what I imagined was the standard American Idol contestant, having never really watched the show before. When he busted loose with some Ray Charles, I could see a musician who knew how to connect emotionally with a song and was pleased and pleasantly surprised that he got a chance to move on to Hollywood.

    I was curious enough about this Taylor Hicks fellow to Google his name and music. From there I found an NPR station website that had three of his songs streaming. I liked them as they showed a lot of potential as a songwriter as well as a good voice, bought the CD “Under the Radar” and became a fan of Taylor Hicks before he put through to the Top 24. Had it ended for Taylor in that chair, that would probably have been the end of my interest in American Idol. Whatever the reality in terms of record sales, Taylor Hicks was a big part of what made last season so engaging and they chose him well, even if they didn’t get exactly the reaction they expected.

    As it turned out, Taylor was not the only engaging and talented person that season. Chris Daughtry, Elliott Yamin and Bucky Covington along with Taylor, offered a great variety of voices and talents different from one another but all good. That Taylor won made me extemely happy for him and he earned it, but the success of all those talented guys (and gals) makes me happy for them as well. The competition should be over at this point, shouldn’t it?

    The downside to all of this does seem to be that the competition never seems to end. To compare blue-eyed soul/classic rock to angst rock to country to r&b is indeed like comparing apples and oranges and bananas and kiwis. There seems to be one Idol “formula” with a one-size-fits-all approach to making records.

    I know at the end of the day its all about the UNITS to the Powers that Be, which I think is a cynical way to view something as personal as musical preferences, but it seems that art and music have become commodities – like pork bellies.

    Simon’s latest comments about Taylor really emphasize that he measures talent in terms of who he thinks would be a “viable recording artist” as in selling multi millions of cds. Silly me, I thought American Idol was about picking the performer who I liked the best. I didn’t vote on the basis of who would line 19’s pockets.

    The truth is, there are many great musicians who never get Top 40 play, never sell 500k Units but manage to inspire and touch people through their music and have sustaining careers making music even if they don’t get written about in People Magazine.

    I wonder – if Ashlee Simpson sells more albums that Corinne Bailey Rae does that mean Ashlee is more worthy of respect from Simon as an artist?

    I’d personally rather listen to Keb’ Mo’ than Justin Timberlake, I’d rather listen to Susan Tedeschi than Gwen Stefani, and I rather listen to Taylor Hicks than Daughtry. But that’s just me.

    American Idol has lost it’s luster for me, and while I love Melinda and some of the others this season are growing on me, I have no desire to vote. I’m blissfully uninvested. It won’t matter if I vote anyway, because they already know who they want and who they don’t want.

  • cbcinvestigations

    The sh*t is about to hit the fan once again regarding CD and illegal wrongdoings. For those of you who aren’t aware, D has long been known for his slimy work ethics.
    After a government investigation of the record industry, he was at one time fired as president of CBS Records amid charges of financial irregularities and using company expenses for personal use. Amid government investigations of financial irregularities in the record industry, CBS, nervous about losing its licenses, fired D and his Director of Artist Relations, David Wynshaw, amid charges that they had used company money for personal expenses. In 1976 he was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced the maximum fine of $10,000. The government dropped five other counts against him.

    Last year this came to light: a two-year-long payola investigation by the New York attorney general turned to the nation’s nine largest radio conglomerates.

    New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said evidence he has gathered clearly shows some of the radio conglomeates have participated in the illegal practice of accepting payments from record companies and middlemen for guaranteed airplay for certain songs.

    “The behavior has been unethical, improper, illegal and a sanction of some severity clearly should be imposed,” Spitzer said.

    Spitzer and music industry officials told ABC’s Primetime that millions of dollars in payments, gifts and trips are exchanged each year to get music stations to add songs to their weekly playlists.

    Spitzer said record company documents obtained in the investigation of Sony BMG and Warner, both of which have settled with the attorney general, revealed payments for songs that became major hits.
    Artists whose songs are named in the documents Spitzer has obtained include Jessica Simpson, Celine Dion, Maroon 5, Good Charlotte, Franz Ferdinand, Switchfoot, Michelle Branch and R.E.M.

    Maroon 5 is under the umbrella of Davis and his cronies. CD will stop at nothing to do business ‘his way’.

    Recently it has come to our attention through industry radio connections that huge paybacks and manipulation are being used to promote certain artists represented by D. There is also a distinct possibility of inflated Soundscan numbers. I’m not at liberty to go into more detail, but suffice it to say that charges will be laid and heads will roll.
    I have a lot more that I could say here, but I won’t. Suffice it to say that Mr Hicks is aware of the wrongdoings and has wisely distanced himself from the situation. Unfortunately, these wrongdoings have and will continue to affect his career – at least on the short term.
    Unfortunately, the ultimate loser in this case might wind up being the artist whose career is being wrongfully manipulated.

  • http://www.taylorhicksblues.blogspot.com Jewels

    CD will stop at nothing to do business ‘his way’. That is a given. Great input and information, to share with those who have not read about his past and current dealings.

    Found this today about Mr. Hicks on Grey Eagle Review, apparently performing a big sold out show isn’t enough, he’s got to get out and moonlight for free. THAT is a show I’d have loved to see. Hicks gave an semi-acoustic 45 minute set after his show last night for free in this small venue.

  • Kath

    Taylor Hicks is unique and a very gifted musician and singer. I was so glad he won, just to be able to rub it in Simon’s face.

    Simon’s cracks about Taylor this year have been rude and uncalled for. He’s just upset that someone he thought didn’t have “it” actually went on to win. Funny….he did the same thing to Clay Aiken in Season 2.

    Taylor is one of those singers that you need to see live, because CD’s just don’t capture the true essence of the performer. Fantasia is that way too. I wasn’t too thrilled with her CD, but her live performances are mesmerizing. You cannot take your eyes off of her – she is a natural talent.

    Same with Taylor. Personally, I love his CD but it wasn’t as good as it could have been. I wish I could see Taylor in concert when he comes to San Francisco, but it’s 2.5 hours away from me and 2 days before my daughter’s college graduation. Darn!

    Bo Bice is a great talent too, but I think he was ripped off by Clive Davis. Davis shoved him into a “pop-rock” genre with his CD and it was not the true Bo Bice. And forcing him to record “Inside Your Heaven” was criminal. That song was not his style and he never sings it live. I think his health problems have hurt his career but I think he will jump back with another CD that is more country/rock. I love Bo Bice!!!

    And Chris Daughtry? He should be thanking his lucky stars that “Idol” gave him the exposure he needed to get his career going. Shame on him for dissing it. Never forget your roots and where you came from. It was millions of fans texting and voting each week that kept him on AI. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.

    Taylor’s CD will be back in the top 10 once his tour is in full swing. It will go platinum and you watch – he will go far. So far all his concert gigs are sold out. You can’t beat that!!!

    SOUL PATROL!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.taylorhicksblues.blogspot.com Jewels

    Kath is completely right in her assessments of Taylor and Fantasia. Regarding the CD’s not capturing the essence of the performers no need look further than the man who put them behind the recording machine.

    Bo Bice’s biggest fault and one that Tay is doing his best to sidestep is allowing C. Davis to run his career. Man, Bo is just one of the easiest going and sweetest men to walk the planet, and to keep it real, he and Tay are not the same type of guys.

    Taylor has been making the Idol franchise uncomfortable for a while with his wandering to local watering holes and getting down and performing at these impromptu performances. He did it on the Idol tour and he continues. I love this trait of his, he’s like this renegade Mustang and can’t be tamed. I picked up on this about him from the beginning last season; made it the the main reason I picked up the phone and dialed for him last year. Simon told Pickler she was ‘ballsy’ one night during the season 5 contest, when in truth, Hicks always held the real definition of ‘ballsy’.

  • Shelly Baby

    All of you Hicks lemmings need to explain why his performance on Dr. Phil was so very bad.

  • bocrazy

    I love this blog and all the comments on here about how CD and the manipulation that goes on with AI and the recording industry. I love Bo Bice, too, and agree that he did what they asked him to do because he trusted them – he was seriously conflicted over it, and did his best to make what they gave him work. He recorded 34 songs in 45 days for Clive Davis only 6 weeks after major intestinal surgery. That’s asking a lot of someone, in my opinion. They must have told him he “had” to do it that way…but look at all the late releases this season…I think they’ve learned a lot from the way they treated Bo…and yet, I love The Real Thing, even though it isn’t Bo Bice as I know him and as the rest of the world will know him very soon!! Be on the lookout for him and a new song entitled “American Blood” and you will find out how Bo’s is The Real Thing…Good for Taylor – I hope he fights them all the way down this road…More power to the real musical talents! We have a “pet” name for Daughtry – The Bald Ego!

  • http://www.mondoirlando.com Duke De Mondo

    Excellent article Jewels. Whilst it is fair enough to assume that Mr Cowell et al are all too concerned about ensuring the winner of idol is someone marketable and especially radio-friendly (i dare say he learned plenty from Michelle McManus’ winning of Pop Idol a few years back in the UK, and the swift demise of her singing career shortly afterwards. Who the viewers love on the show is not neccesarily the person they’ll be most likely to support in the old CD buying game) but really, whoever wins, Simon and co stil stand to win, since even if the “winner” doesn’t do so well, at least SOME of the finalists will. it’s probably better for the folks involved NOT to win the damn thing, since they’re still pretty much guaranteed a record deal of some sort once they hit the final 12, and there’s a lot more chance of gaining some sort of “credibility” the sooner you leave the show, since the public tend to forget very quickly who the hell was there in the first place, bar the winner. It’s very like Big Brother in that regard. make your mark and get the hell out whilst you still have SOME credibility, but for god’s sakes don’t WIN the damn thing.

  • Jewely

    Taylor does NOT have “low sales”. Considering the genre, he’s done very well. Taylor’s fans also tend to like music, period. They bought albums across the board.

    As for Hasselhof, I thought he was Kat’s neighbor and crying because she DIDN’T win??? Yes, I thought Chris Sligh was stinkin’ hilarious when he said that. Smart kid who learned from Taylor. Released his album just after the show started. Thinks the pop genre is “crap music”. You gotta like him.

  • http://www.taylorhicksblues.blogspot.com Jewels

    “Jewely”… Duane is that you? … Chris Sligh strikes me as in his for top five exposure and record deal, not to actually win this musical game show, but hey, I don’t know him personally.

  • Ann

    cbcinvestigations:

    What shall we then say to these things? All I can say is: in the interest of all “fairness”, “honesty”, and “all things that are just”, there must be a God somewhere, because I think he is about to answer someone’s fervent prayers. This whole vengeful, and self-serving “sabotage/career asassination of Taylor Hicks” fiasco, is about to bounce back and bite American Idol and TPTB right in the a**.

    Now…by no means, am I so saintly and righteous as to be worthy of casting stones at others, but I FIRMLY believe in the old adage that states: “you reap what you sow” (meaning: if American Idol can dish out an orchestrated, organized, thought out, and well-planned SCAM that promotes
    the fourth-place finisher( their ‘chosen one’) through illegal means, while at the same time they are “sticking-it-to-Taylor”(the actual real ‘WINNER’) by starting vicious, unfounded rumors, lies and innuendos via the media; by giving him minimal (if any) backing and support, then they sure as heck better be prepared for the inevitable INVESTIGATION that will surely follow).

    I know, for a fact, that there were some very well-known music/radio industry people, (die-hard Daughtry fans with a LOT OF CLOUT and TIES to the industry), that interacted, conversed, and informed the Daughtry fans on the AI boards, about how they were privy to Clive’s “plans” for Chris;(remember, there is always someone who can’t keep their mouth shut…a blabber-mouth as it were) and as I followed the leads, and did my research, I believe these same characters are key players in this whole god-forbidden saga, that I trust will come to the forefront, and be totally uncovered; hopefully sooner rather than later.

    I have been watching this unfold for months, and the pieces that support this puzzle, are continously falling into place; many fans have chosen to bury their heads in the sand, many choose to ignore it, some just overlook it and say they will “focus on the positive”, some flat out deny it, and some are irrate over the mention of it, but in spite of that, I would venture to say that with every “unexplained”, “unusual”, “abnormal” development surrounding Taylor’s career, most ALL fans have shaken their heads and wondered “what’s going on…why no video?…why no radio play? Why this and why that? The other week, on another blog, it was posted what I feel is the explanation(answer) to the things that make you go…hmmmmm; I will post it here as well.

  • DaMama

    Taylor Hicks is awesome. If he was so bad, why did Simon say on last year’s finale after he performed “Do I Make You Proud”, “Taylor, I think you’ve just won American Idol”.

    Simon can be spot on at times, and other times he’s just a jack @ss. Just because he doesn’t like someone doesn’t mean they aren’t good. And just because he does like someone doesn’t mean they are good!

    Case and point – Kellie Pickler & Katharine McPhee. Oh my God Pickler CANNOT sing. She is cute and had a sob story. But she was also a hypocrite. She was a beauty pageant contestant and gave a speech about rising above your circumstances. Yet she played that ” dumb southern blonde” card to the hilt just to get farther in the competition. Her CD is horrendous and her single is terrible.

    Katharine McPhee went to the finale because Simon liked her looks. She was offkey and oversang just about every song she sang while in the top 10. The Queen night she was so offkey it was horrendous to listen to, yet Simon heaped praises upon her. Her CD has been digitally remastered to cover up her lack of talent. Even reviewers have said she sounds like a digitalized JoJo. NOT good.

    Simon pimped through Carrie Underwood too. When she was on AI, she had -0- stage presence, and was often flat and offkey. She had an OK voice and was cute as a button, but when it came to true talent, Bo Bice had her beat hands down. Since winning AI, she’s had professional coaching with her voice and with her presentation on stage, and she has improved by leaps and bounds. But when she won AI, Bo Bice was clearly the more talented singer.

    This year, Simon is pimping through Chris Richardson. He’s not that talented, sounds like a poor version of Justin Timberlake, which isn’t saying much. Timberlake is one of the most overblown singers out there. Sure he can dance OK but he doesnt’ sing that well and his new CD is so digitally remixed you can’t tell which voice is Timberlakes or a computer redub. YUK.

    This year has the worst top 24. The only singers worth watching are Melinda (she better win!), LaKisha, Blake (the best guy) and Chris Sligh. Everyone else is really substandard.

    Simon can really be a jerk sometimes!!!!!

  • Ann

    It would seem a great deal of people are “coming in late”, or are “slow to catch on” to this VERY IMPORTANT topic of “CD Sales Inflation scheme”. I suspect, the real truth is, that most have entertained the thought, but choose to bury their heads in the sand, including some of those in powerful positions in the music/radio/television industry; (afterall, it’s politics with them, and it’s all about “who you know”)…everybody knows that familiar saying: “it’s hard to crack a nut”, because many of them work in cohoots.

    News of this nature is kept very hush-hush by the ties that bind, it could be a potential bombshell if uncovered, so they have “covered” all their bases (interpreted: meaning they have carefully orchestrated and planned a certain rocker Idol’s career from the very day that Taylor won the title of American Idol.) They never intended to give Taylor ANY real backing; in fact, their intent was the opposite, which was to pimp the Idol of their choice through:

    a. inflated/skewered CD sales (without being detected. )
    b. radio payola (airplay boost)
    c. VH1 Video
    d. Featured AI Swan Song (Home)

    It CAN, and I believe, WILL be uncovered. I believe that what is done in darkness, shall be brought to light. Read this article to see how a scam can be perpetrated.

    It’s TOTALLY UNFAIR to Taylor to let this whole saga be written off as “he just didn’t fit, or make the cut”, when in reality, it’s a set-up to make him appear unsuccessful as an artist, and to attempt to make themselves appear that they were right all along about who should have won. Whether they think he should have won, or not; or whether they think he’s the best singer, or not, the fact remains that he IS the people’s choice, and he deserves their ‘backing and support’ and respect.

    Some say, “the competition is over”; I say this has nothing to do with competition, because Taylor WON that competition/contest hands down; but it does have everything to do with “ego” and the flexing of the powerful industry muscle. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Daughtry fan, or a McPhee fan, or a Taylor fan; if only it were that simple. The issue at hand, I believe, goes deeper than that, much deeper. Simon Cowell has gone to the press and stated for the record that he “hates Taylor”. Folks, this is not only business, it’s also a personal attack. There are career’s at stake here, this is a serious matter; they are trying to make(Daughtry) and break(Taylor), that simply cannot, and should not be tolerated, and most certainly, should be investigated.

  • http://www.jinglesforpringles.com Franklin Richards

    There’s definitely always been a fine line on Idol. That line being is this a show where real talent come to compete for a chance to be a real recording artist, or if it’s just a cash flow machine where good, decent, and mediocre performers are thrown together for reality tv ratings. I think it borders on both. But I also firmly believe that Idol does legitimize itself by creating some big name artists. I think it almost doesn’t matter anymore who wins the contest in the end. I think everyone who is on the show are automatically winners, it just depends on how well they can translate their pre-fab fame into a-list zeppelins who churn out hits. [Edited. “Stu” already posted that advert, Franklin. You may even know “Stu” as you are sharing the same IP address. Comments Editor]

  • Sarah

    Thanks for this commentary and the excellent discussion. I believe these things must be brought to the surface and discussed openly by fans. Over the past 2 years, I’ve learned we can’t just “trust the powers that be” to make the right decisions for artists. Artists need to know their fan base is with them and standing by them making the decisions that their own wisdom, values and skills direct them toward, so they won’t feel totally at the mercy of the suits who try to remake them into something less than the real thing. No one is ever better by trying to be something that’s not who they are meant to be. They may still be good, but never as great as when their true talents are able to really shine through. There should be ample evidence of that in the developments posted here and in events coming up in the months to come.

  • guest

    “Thanks for this commentary and the excellent discussion. I believe these things must be brought to the surface and discussed openly by fans. Over the past 2 years, I’ve learned we can’t just “trust the powers that be” to make the right decisions for artists. Artists need to know their fan base is with them and standing by them making the decisions that their own wisdom, values and skills direct them toward, so they won’t feel totally at the mercy of the suits who try to remake them into something less than the real thing. No one is ever better by trying to be something that’s not who they are meant to be. They may still be good, but never as great as when their true talents are able to really shine through. There should be ample evidence of that in the developments posted here and in events coming up in the months to come.”

    That is what happened to his current CD.
    It’s not his best work. Take a listen to
    “Under The Radar” and “In Your Time”. You
    will hear some of Taylor Hicks best vocals.
    I’m sure they pushed him towards the Top 40 POP
    and Adult Comtemporary radio formats because
    that is were there are more listeners than
    your Rock or Classic Rock stations which also
    cover The Blues. But his past has been the
    Blues which definately show case his voice.

  • jan

    I live in Hoover, Al., Taylor’s hometown. I am laughing over the “Bear Bryant” comment. People voted for Taylor Hicks because they liked his music and performances on AI. Alabama football is our sports passion not our music passion. I went to Taylors concert last night at the Alabama Theatre. If anyone has any doubts that Taylor will be around for a long time, they only need to attend one of his concerts. He brings the house down and works his audiance into a frenzy. He is an unbelieveable entertainer. This is the case at all his concerts, not just Alabama. He closed down Universal Theater in Orlando with a 22,000 + audience. His concert reviews are great. Not everyone appreciates the same music. I like Chris, I like Elliott. I don’t know why it is necessary to compare and criticize. Taylor is having the time of his life. And get over it folks, Taylor did win American Idol. Lets move on.

  • Nashvilledeb

    Good Lord! When are people and the media going to let up on Taylor Hicks? Everyone’s dissecting him like he was a lab rat!
    And about Taylor’s so-called “slow” CD sales…The bottom line is that Taylor’s music is DIFFERENT from most of the crap that’s heard on the radio every day. You have to have some class to appreciate it. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s OK with that because he’s being true to who he is. He’s said that he’s not going to let anyone turn him into something he’s not. You GO, Taylor!
    On top of everything, he’s a Southern gentleman. Couldn’t we use more of his kind in the entertainment world?
    If you want to see what the hoopla about him is and experience the REAL Taylor, just attend one of his concerts on the tour. I’ll guarantee you’ll not only be floored with the music and the crowd reception, but you’ll have the time of your life!
    I went to his Ryman Auditorium concert here in Nashville Thursday night and I did.
    Everyone better get used to hearing him. He’s going to be around a long time.

  • Guest

    “#33 — March 12, 2007 @ 21:34PM — Nashvilledeb
    And about Taylor’s so-called “slow” CD sales…The bottom line is that Taylor’s music is DIFFERENT from most of the crap that’s heard on the radio every day.”

    That’s right and good thing! Can’t stand the AC and Top 40 POP crap radio stations.

    Unfortunately Hicks current label pushed him
    in that direction on his self titled CD.

    It’s just not as good as his independent CDs “Under The Radar” and “In Your Time”.

  • Mindy

    It’s laughable to say that Hick’s CD slumped because of some kind of conspiracy theory with payolas, skewered CD sales, etc. It’s sad to blame anything but the CD not capturing the attention of the public, resulting in healthy sales. Taylor’s CD didn’t sell well. End of subject. I only liked one song out of the whole album, so I bought the single but not the CD.

  • http://www.taylorhicksblues.blogspot.com Jewels

    Mindy, that apparently was the run of that train of thought with Sp’ers – they came out bought that first rush of 300,000 plus… CD’s and then the CD let me be PC; …. Slowed. But shit, in the music world is 300,000 plus fans something to scoff at? I dare say Not.

  • M.Phillips

    I am so happy that everyone realizes how Taylor’s being treated by AI and also the press. I have seen it over and over but no one would say anything. I have yet to hear AI say one good thing about Taylor. I’m real surprise that Randy or Paula has not said anything good about Taylor because they liked him. I guess all that matters is that his fans love him and know what a great person and performer he is. Keep you head HIGH Taylor and show them who the winner really is.

  • http://www.taylorhicksblues.blogspot.com Jewels

    It surprised me this week on the elimination show that Taylor Hick’s image on the Idol intro was flashed. I think it may be a first.

    Regarding alliances and controversy, now we have Vote for the Worst taking on an even more prominent role in the show, gaining the attention of Howard Stern (Sirius Shock Jock, not Anna Nicole Smith’s surviving ‘partner’ in the event anyone needs clarification) who is now also stepping in via his radio show to root for underdog Sanjaya Malakar. Stern’s running Malakar’s call in number, from what I’m understanding, on his website the night of performances plus he’s been talking about the boy daily. Granted Stern is Worsting on the boy, but beneath that craggy, shaggy exterior Stern likes a good fight for the Underdog. The kid’s one of the most interesting contestants on the show outside of the two prominent front-runners, Doolittle and LaKisha, primarily for the extreme polarization he’s seeing in fan forums and in the media. It is taking me back to last season and the brouhaha that surrounded Taylor Hicks. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I’m rooting for this boy. So call me crazy, it would not be new to me, but I have found interest in “The Little Engine That Could”, Sanjaya Malakar. Every week this boy goes out there and does his best, yet gets bashed down, returning like a slightly built Rocky Balboa to fight the Idol fight again. Young girls really like this kid, I know my daughter’s pals think he “rocks” and vote their little pink painted nails off for him weekly. I think he’d fit in with that bunch at Disney, the Hannah Montana crowd and Corbin Bleu (High School Musical). The fans of these shows are most likely a bulk of Malakar’s fan base. Look at it this way, Hannah Montana (in reality Miley Cyrus) had her CD at the top of BillBoard for many weeks last November, December. So to Sanjaya, “I think I can, I think I can.”

    Efforts struggle by the show promoters to make Chris Richardson (no relation) and Beat-Boxing Blake fascinating, when Chris R. is not much more than a Justin TimberFake. I imagine he practiced being J.T. long and hard before entering this competition, even has the hair shave down pat. Blake and beat boxing, ah, not for me. There is that guy chasing that Idol dream who decided to skip out on the birth of his child to attend the auditions. He’s sort of a bad-hat wearing Nosferatu look a like, and his name is Phil Stacey. He manages to sound pretty good when big notes are called for but you can miss the intros to the songs, he has problems every beginning.

    Initially the show was playing up large, no slam intended, Sundance Head, who became known more for his copious crying than anything else and chubby Chris Sligh who began the season as part last comic standing part ‘think of me as the New Taylor Hicks’, Fro Patro and all. Sundance has since departed the show and Sligh has been waning in popularity. The humor quotient, one of my favorite things about him, tossed aside. In fact he seemed to be trying to ‘glam it up’ last week and came onto the top 12 stage sans specks – I could barely pay attention to the song with the ramifications behind his “make-over”. Bad move dude.

    Regarding some of the others, Haley is Katherine McPhee 2.0 and Stephanie Edwards, Fantasia Jr. Both have their good qualities but hold little interest and both need remember their lyrics look what happened to Brandon.

  • Jeannie

    I just saw Taylor Hicks at the House of Blues in Chicago on March 29!!!! The House was packed and I mean packed. The audience was young, hip and there were even a few Goths in the crowd. When Taylor came on stage, I thought the freaking building was going to explode…yes he causes that kind of excitement!!! He sang several songs from his selftitled album but with a twist….hooking into old blues songs and this crowd was rocking. His encore was Sweet Home Chicago and EVERYONE jumped into the chorus.

    Taylor is DIFFERENT AND DIFFERENT IS GOOD AND COOL. TAYLOR is in a class of his own and has brought back GOOD MUSIC with words you can understand and no profanities or grabbing of his crotch.

    The man is a dynamite performer and brings so much enery to his music and so much fun. His voice is just wonderful plus he plays guitar, harmonica and a little keyboard. THIS IS WHAT IS CALLED ENTERTAINMENT. I hated for the concert to end and can hardly wait until Taylor returns to Joliet, Illinois on April 25th. I will be there.

    Taylor is selling out his concerts and to wonderful reviews. I am positive Taylor is in for a very long and satisfying career and I for one am very HAPPY!!!

  • http://www.taylorhicksblues.blogspot.com Jewels

    “Taylor is DIFFERENT AND DIFFERENT IS GOOD AND COOL.” Thank you Jeanie for your positive report on the Taylor Hicks concert you attended.

    And, yes, different is often very good, and very cool.

  • Bert

    I’m very sorry that Taylor’s CD and book has been a flop, but blaming it on Daughtry smacks of sour grapes. Daughtry did an album that crossed generations, those of us that love rock. Lyrics for the every day man, touching songs that are still selling. Right now it’s the highest selling CD, already triple platinum. So can we give this man, this artist his due? I guess not, at least not from the Soul Patrol who has used Daughtry as a scapegoat for the lousy sales of Hicks. Shame on you.

  • san diego soul

    Hey Bert – you use the word “flop” pretty arrogantly. Taylor has more talent in his little finger than Chris Daughtry will ever have. When Chris is respected by his peers like Taylor is by his, you let us know. To show Taylor’s credibility amongst serious musicians who have associated themselves with him are as follows (just to name a few): Willie Nelson, Keb Mo, Michael McDonald, Gladys Knight, Widespread Panic, John Mayer, The Allman Brothers, John Popper, Earth Wind and Fire, Dan Akroyd, Bryan Adams, and was the only outsider EVER to be invited to record in Ray Charles’ studio (by his people). This. Is. Credibility and Respect. The album has gone Platiunum, the single has gone Gold, he’s completed 2 successful headlining solo tours, and is a published author. These are huge success stories, my friend.

    I’d reconsider your “flop” adjective – it’s very dismissive. And remember – what goes around, comes around, especially in the music industry.

  • CM

    Bert,
    I have seen very few posts by actual Taylor fans blaming Chris. that usually comes from your side as a way to make your guy seem responsible anyone who has actually taken the time to hunt down some facts knows that there is a huge difference in the spending by the labels RCA spent a ton of money promoting Daughtry, Arista has spent almost nothing promoting Taylor’s album, not even letting hm release a single until over 2 months after his album dropped, that is pretty much unheard of but we’re just foolish to think Taylor has been sabotaged for standing up to AI and Clive also rock is going to sell better than blue-eyed soul in todays Pop market, no one argues that apples & oranges but whatever makes you folks feel better since triple platinum evidently hasn’t done it for you

  • Cathy

    Just remember folks, there was only ONE WINNER on Season 5 of American Idol and that ONE WINNER is Taylor Hicks.

    And no matter how hard fans of other AI contestants try to make their ‘person’ seem bigger and better, the fact remains the best person won and Taylor triumphed.

  • Elizabeth

    CM and Kathy,
    I agree with your last posts. However the saddest thing to me is that the deed has been done and nothing can change the fact that the media believe the hype that surrounds an artist who is heavily promoted. Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Carrie Underwood and now Daughtry are pushed endlessly at us in the media. Daughtry articles are constantly comparing cd sales by both artists.

    I recently read this on Splash which may explain a little further why it ‘appears’ that Taylor is a ‘failure’ since he ISN’T part of this clever ploy.

    you will find this post at Number 1177

    ” Let me get this straight after wading through the comments here, which seem like a poor attempt to divert the focus away from the issues here. This is a report saying Chris Daughtry is the best selling artist from 2007, right? Weeding out the idiots on here was easy but the information I got from those that could hold a conversation seems to be this. Please correct me if I’m wrong as I am only reporting on things I have deduced from here;

    1. Articles linked here have reported that Big Record Labels are supplying boxes of free cds to some Big Retailers
    In return the Big Retailers at some level scan the cd through several times to increase the cd sales numbers reported to Soundscan.

    2. This trick is used to gain or maintain high cd sales of a labels particular favored artists numbers in the charts each week.

    3. The Big Record Labels WIN because this maintains the image that their favored artist is more popular, seemingly tricking the general public into buying that persons cd because it ..” must be good, look at its high sales !”

    4. The Big Retailers WIN because they have boxes full of free cd’s to make a profit on and they also scan the cd again when it actually gets sold, I assume, again increasing the sales numbers.

    5. The Big Record Labels are part of Umbrella Music/Ent Companies who make up the biggest shareholders on the Board Of Directors of the RIAA.

    6. The RIAA are the people who give a cd its gold/platinum status.

    7. In effect the Big Record Labels have the major say then, in who gets the Gold /Platinum certification !! That is why it is in their best interests to find a way for their favored artists cd to ‘seemingly’ have the most sales.
    8. From another source it seems the same Big Record Labels or their Umbrella Music/Ent Companies have also been involved in Payola or Pay for Radio airtime and fined $12 million dollars.

    It has taken a while to co-relate this information but it certainly makes sense as to why many cds stay up in the charts for weeks if that is what is happening.

    Seems like this must be known but nobody speaks up because they are all making money from it!!

    I guess if it’s fixed don’t break it, ha,ha,ha !!!!!! John CA”


    You can find it here
    post 1177

  • Dwayne

    Thank you for your 1st rate article. I am puzzled by the fact that Taylor Hicks isn’t one of the biggest stars in the world. He’s just that good. Yes, it’s true, voters do not necessarily translate into buyers. Daughtry had a niche waiting for him which he had the talent to fill. Most of his fans are young males willing to buy the records he produces.

  • Taylor Hicks Fan

    Taylor Hicks “American Idol Winner” just released a new song titled: SOS (Save My Body, Save My Soul)available now on iTunes. Purpose of this song is to bring about worldwide awareness to the plight of millions of abandoned and orphaned Children. Please download this song from iTunes and help this important cause. Way to go Taylor!