Taylor Hicks, Winner or Loser? Refer to the Press

The American Idol winner nobody would want to be? Is the name, Taylor Hicks, destined to wind up as the moniker meaning loser even though he won season five of that karaoke reality show? Is that all that “Taylor Hicks” will bring to mind when the time passes and this reality show karaoke contest rolls on, the guy who won yet really lost in the long haul?

Article after article concerning the show reflect a negative view of the guy. The past few days has seen local Dallas entertainment writer, Preston Jones, throwing out Hicks’ name adding yet more negative references. Friday, November 14, Jones wrote, as he talked up David Cook’s new album, “Most other male contestants — Taylor Hicks, where have you gone? — have slipped almost completely out of the public consciousness.”. Then again today I read that Jones includes Hicks in yet another piece about the new David Cook album – certainly he must be a fan. Jones writes,  “…forming an identity while being careful not to, well, end up like season five victor Hicks. It’s not for nothing Cook only name-checks the most visible Idol offspring.”. David Cook had made references to Carrie Underwood, Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken.

Preston Jones is just one of the many writers in entertainment writing land who utilize Taylor Hicks’ name as a scapegoat example of what not to shoot for should you land on Idol. Hicks’ name is often cited synonymous with failure at your shot at fame and success. A large part of the articles that come across the internet seem to enjoy mentioning Taylor Hicks’ name as the butt of a joke, a reference for being a ‘flash in the pan’ or plain old ‘loser’.

Interesting that sales of a reported 800,000 are seen as being a bad thing. Considering the music industry pitfalls today, the change from plastic purchases in favor of on-line iPod, iTunes buys; include the internet savvy who find their way around actually purchasing any music and download illegally for free, it’s not an embarrassing number.

I’m guessing since Taylor won with as much flair as he did, combined with as much support as he had, hell, he made David Hasselhoff cry like a little girl; sales less than double platinum equal failure in the eyes of many including reviewers and especially the show’s Money Men. Too the CD Hicks released after his win did nothing to further the image he came to represent on the show. He came out as a Ray Charles/Joe Cocker kind of performer and issued a riddled with plastic Pop oriented CD. Most of the folks who loved that album were not all in it for the music, instead mainly fans of the show, then became fans of the man. Of course there are some exceptions to that statement.

Finally, after a two year span, Taylor Hicks released his compilation CD of his songs recorded prior to the show, called “Early Works”. Since it had been so long since Hicks hit the Idol stage and so many articles have passed hailing him as that ‘Winner who wound up Losing’, “Early Works” sales were less than notable. Along with the release of that pre-Idol CD, Taylor has issued statements he’s finally releasing “Whomp at the Warfield” filmed in the San Francisco theater, previously aired on HDNET and AOL television in October, 2007. Add to this news, he’s readying a new CD, promised to be available early February, 2009.

Most artists with new albums due out start spinning a song or two from the offering well in advance of the record coming out, make one of those promotional little music videos. Hicks never made a video for his eponymous Idol release, the folks with the show obviously were just not that into marketing the record or the man. Doubtful he’ll make a video for this new body of work either.

That said, it may be unnecessary since Hicks has worked out a marketing plan that loosely resembles a national video campaign; instead of filming the single, he’s performing it live. Hicks as his followers know, had a role as the Teen Angel in the Broadway production of “Grease” this past Summer.  The guy enjoyed positive press and made a favorable impression on the show’s producers. He’s been asked to resume that role in a national touring production of the show. Mr. Hicks has planned with the touring production management to perform a single from this upcoming CD following the show. Details on how this will unfold are not public yet, likely won’t be known until that first show debuts December 02 in Providence, Rhode Island. Telling point in all of this, how marketing his music may work within this type of environment as well as how reviewers and writer’s in the various local markets view and cover him and this novel approach.

Taylor Hicks is obviously not afraid to jump in with both feet as evidenced in 2005 when he first entered the Idol auditions. He broke show molds with his brazen difference from his hair color to his harmonica walk breaking the top 24, Hollywood Week.

The skeptics accused Hicks as purely acting a role, during the show and since – really to a degree, he was. Taylor worked to market himself apart from the usual show contestant which ultimately worked in his favor. Now again, Taylor Hicks is working to market himself in a different way, set himself apart from the norm once again. This is the first time a national theater touring production will feature their starring draw in a way not associated with the show itself. What should be noted is the man is still as open to the new, the novel approach, as he was when he went for it on that reality show. What will remain to be seen is if he will generate interest, draw in and affect any critics, reviewers or entertainment writers to see him as more than that Idol Winner who ultimately lost.

I’m not claiming any objective stance regarding Taylor Hicks, I’ve rooted for him in my way since he first caught my attention in January 2006, continue to do so. Here’s hoping that this man, told by Simon Cowell in 2006 he’d never win the show, then did, now being written up by so many critics as that guy who should never have won, finds his way.
“Winning” Santana


6 Responses to Taylor Hicks, Winner or Loser? Refer to the Press

  1. rosem15 says:

    Sunny, Taylor R. Hicks, as winner or looser! I say winner, in the short and long run of life. Thanks, Spin, for once again, providing a thought for his fans.

  2. Tessa says:

    Taylor Hicks will always be a winner to me – he is a kind, gentle soul with a superb
    ear for blues. If you haven’t seen Taylor Hicks live you are missing the true talent of this entertainer. He leaves you smiling and wanting more.

  3. tee shirt girl says:

    Taylor’s music does not click with younger people – it’s as simple as that. You cannot have success in music unless you have younger people buying your music. I’ll bet most of his fanbase does not own an I-pod and has no idea how to download music.

    Unless you have new music that sells, you cannot tour. If he does tour, they will always be small-scale tours. His fans are ignorant about music and doesn’t know anything about the music business.

    Also, american idols that go to Broadway, are considered failures in music.

  4. spinshack says:

    tee shirt girl, what you’ve written sparks another blog topic – wonder how many fans of his do know how to operate an iPod or access iTunes? Many confess to not listening to the radio, which is odd. Not that Clear Channel is exactly the format to find new artists, but it doesn’t hurt to stay tuned into what is making regular airplay. Too, there’s plenty of stations that can be found who will play local bands, play new music, play music not normally heard on the main outlets.

    I’ve said that same thing, if he doesn’t sell the music he can’t tour. Granted there is that view of Broadway, but look what it did for Jennifer Hudson – lead to her Oscar winning role in “Dream Girls”.

    The “Grease” gig is providing something he could not do on his own, travel nationally and present his single to a wider span of audience. If it takes, if he manages to capture the local market’s attention, he will open his possibilities to sell the record. Following that thought, he’s already booking some dates in and around the “Grease” tour – ticket price for the first stop is just $35.00 per person. So yeah, small scale, small venue but it’s something.

    He’d benefit shaking that Idol image and break into a younger crowd, true. What would make it harder is if the gals who have been known to form their little gypsy caravans and traveling circuses, tone it down, stop making his appearances, his shows about them, that might help.

  5. tee shirt girl says:

    Jennifer Hudson never appeared on Broadway. She made her acting debut in Dream Girls, which was a major motion picture. Big difference between acting in a Broadway musical and acting in a movie. That movie opened lots of doors for Jennifer, especially her music career.

    That traveling circus of middle-age groupies is embarrassing to Taylor and these same people wonder why he’s not played on the radio. Mind boggling!

    Just the fact that they don’t listen to the radio, not even to see what’s popular, means they are clueless about music. I personally think these women are stuck in the 80’s, probably trying to relive their youth, but Taylor, himself likes the old music of the 70’s and 80’s, so he must take part of the blame. Unless Taylor gets more contemporary, he will be doomed. There is a way to mix the old with the new. Look at John Legend, Robin Thicke, Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse – they were able to do it successfully. We still don’t know what genre Taylor’s next CD will be – I just hope it’s not a mixed-up mess like his post-Idol cd.

  6. spinshack says:

    I should have specified; I got lazy – she took over that movie role, with the production stemming from the Broadway hit, “Dreamgirls.”

    Idol has spawned a bevy of cast opportunities for Broadway, Clay Aiken, Constantine, Fantasia – who completely flubbed that opportunity, Frenchie Davis, Tamyra Gray, Diane DiGarmo. Big list, some I’ve probably forgotten.

    Hudson was brilliant in “Dream Girls” completely over shadowed everyone else in the show.

    Very true about mixing the old to get a new unique sound. I’ve written that same thing on other blogs. I’ve nothing against his liking the old tunes, I like a lot of the old music too, but I appreciate it when an artist can take something classic, whether a style or song and make it new. Hicks certainly could use a little ‘morphing’ regarding presentation, perhaps we’ll see that on the new record.

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