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Posts from the ‘American Idol’ Category

Taylor Hicks: The Year in Photographs 2013:: Gallery and Giveaway!

by Holley Dey and Louise Uznanski                       ©2013 OnTapBlog All rights reserved

Regis Philbin had a question for Taylor Hicks following the American Idol winner’s 2008 Broadway debut.  “This is what you want then……to be an actor?”  Replied Hicks, “I want to be a musician, and I want to be an entertainer.”  In 2013 Taylor made good on that intention, enlarging his artist brand with ventures into scripted television and celebrity cooking, while maintaining a primary focus on live performance music.

He had his fingers in many pies, borrowing from one recipe to enhance another, blending fun, food and football with the occasional falsetto to create an entertainment potpourri that satisfied even the most finicky.  Here are a few facts and photos attached to a musician who grew and diversified his brand in 2013.  Look for the giveaway that follows the photos; this features one of Hicks’ new ventures! Read more

Who Dat American Idol Got that Funk? Taylor Hicks at Harrah’s New Orleans

by Louise Uznanski     ©2013 OnTapBlog All rights reserved

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Football fanatic and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks is in The Big Easy this weekend with just enough time, and more than enough energy, to rock a few tunes before Sunday’s showdown between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers. Read more

American Idol Aftermath: A Historical Perspective

Before American Idol captivated audiences nationwide, another talent show enjoyed a long run on syndicated television.  From 1983 to 1995,  Star Search declared competition winners in male, female, group, and junior vocalist categories.  Many years later it’s interesting, and possibly instructive, to take another look at Star Search.  It’s particularly interesting to examine the contestants’ careers after the cameras stopped rolling, and to consider parallels with the American Idol graduates.

Not all of the Star Search contestants achieved highly visible careers in entertainment after the show ended.  Some of the runner-ups became more famous than the show winners.  Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Britney Spears were all contestants on Star Search. 

None of them won.  Aguilera, Timberlake, and Spears were all recruited by Disney after the contest and benefited from consistent exposure to a national television audience through the Mickey Mouse Club, and from the continued support of the Disney company.

Season 1 male vocalist champion Sam Harris produced two early, well received albums following his Star Search win as well as several follow-up albums, and has worked continuously.  Perhaps best recognized for his contributions to theater, Harris was nominated for a Drama Desk award for his performance as Doody in the original Broadway revival of GREASE, and has worked intermittently in both television and film.  He has written as well as performed for the stage. His acclaimed Star Search performance of “Over the Rainbow” follows:

Season 2 male vocalist winner, Durell Coleman produced one album following his television victory, and subsequently toured in support of Anita Baker and BB King, among others.  There was no follow-up album.  In 1990 he joined the Los Angeles based Al McKay’s All Stars as vocal director and lead singer.  In the mid 1990′s he organized the Durell Coleman Band, a special events band that provides entertainment for private parties and large corporate events in southern California.

Kenny James was the 1986 grand champion in the male vocalist category.

His musical efforts received limited attention after the competition ended; James is now a vocalist/performer on the cruise ship circuit.

David Nelson Slater was the 1987 male vocalist champion.  He subsequently released two critially acclaimed country albums, but has since had difficulty with the law, serving jail time for forgery and theft.  He now lives and continues to sing in Nashville.

It’s difficult to draw generalizations from such a small sample, but it does seem that diversification helps, and that American Idol contestants may benefit from expanding their brand beyond singing into other entertainment avenues.  And not surprisingly, added face time in front of the television camera works.  What’s also true  is that talent is not enough to ensure a healthy career in the industry.  All of the Star Search contestants and winners could sing, and sing well.

Why a Reworked American Idol Won’t Work

The  judges panel in turmoil, a shrinking talent pool, the music industry in flux: all are potential reasons for American Idol to rethink and retool its television franchise.  There are signficant incentives for designing a fix to the Idol woes.  Big money and bigger egos are at stake.  Yet even if the judging troika found common ground, and a young Britney Spears presented herself at auditions, would that be enough to guarantee a future for the television show?

I contend that it would not be enough, and in support of that contention, I offer you Mr. Simon Cowell.  Yes, I do mean that Simon Cowell, the ascerbic British judge with the limited wardrobe and bad haircut.  His interest in music leans more to commercial potential than artistic merit, but Mr. Cowell understands business, and he understands human nature.

Simon cited boredom as one of his reasons for departing Idol, and frankly, we’re bored too.  Every popular television show from Seinfeld to Friends to The Sopranos has a limited lifespan as the concept becomes too familiar and the characters predictable.  Take for example the talent show Star SearchStar Search enjoyed a long run in syndication, generating winners and also rans from 1983 to 1995.  The show introduced talent that still works the music industry today, including Mickey Mouse Club members Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera.  Yet despite the success of its alumni, the show ended, and a shortlived relaunch on CBS lasted only from 2003 to 2004.  Enough is enough.

We share a national ennui, fueled by the ready availability of digital entertainment and our ever shortening attention spans.  We are tweeters, not writers.  We scan; we don’t read.  To quote Jeff Goldblum’s character in The Big Chill, “Any article for People can be no longer than the average person can read while taking a crap.”  We expect, even demand, myriad entertainment options, and we want those options now, albeit briefly.

That American Idol has held our attention this long is a testament to the original construct and staffing of the show.  Waning interest is an expected outcome associated with longevity.  While his taste in both clothing and music may be suspect, Simon Cowell has shown an uncanny ability to predict public sentiment and follow the money.  His departure from the show signals an inevitable, although gradual decline to the end.

 

This essay is solely the opinion of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the view of the entire Taylorhicksnews on tap editorial staff.

Tomorrow on the blog:  American Idol afterlife: a historical perspective

Thursday on the blog:  Taylor Hicks National Tour: A Photo Essay

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