Taylor Hicks and My Achy Breaky Heart

February 28, 2009

Taylor Hicks fans received an unexpected treat this past week when his new album, “The Distance”, set to hit the market on March 10th, previewed on kol.com for a listening party. While I questioned why kol.com, a notably kid centric on-line venue for well, kid stuff, I surmised it was his American Idol ties that put him there. Certainly not many in the teeny bopper crowd who follow Demi Lavato, The Jonas Brothers (who have a new 3-D movie coming to a town near you) and Miley Cyrus would be into Taylor as an artist nor see him in concert.

Now I don’t have a copy in my hand – of this new body of plastic – it’s not easy finding details on-line about the lyrics or the musicians involved in each tune to comment of those intriguing bits of necessary ingredients for real review. Information pops up – information goes back. So what you get right now, today, dear readers, is simply a summation of initial good old gut reaction. For some it may be gut wrenching but remember I write with my tongue in my cheek, but yes, occasionally my red-haired roots get involved and that attached temper comes to the fore. You’ve been forewarned.

I sat and listened through every track on the CD, “The Distance”. I invited my man and then later, a few friends, Guy, Frank and Pete, to hear what Mr. Hicks had to bring to the music table this time around – to gain a ‘balanced’ opinion. Balanced in so far as our little ensemble is able; imagine five clowns on a unicycle. Like that.

Consensus reached: the songs, “The Distance”, “What’s Right Is Right”, “New Found Freedom”, and “Nineteen” all on about the same level. Tunes with inspirational undertones composed of similar emotion and thought process. Very Americana in feel and theory. “New Found Freedom” has an especially “Up With People” vibe, two of my sick and twisted pals orchestrated a special arms waving dance to that tune.

“Nineteen”, is a tear-jerker with sentiment expressed in story-telling country angst including a subtle country accent delivered by Mr. Hicks. This song concerns the troops in Iraq, war message laments the loss of those paying the ultimate sacrifice. These first four tracks hang out well together. Main criticism, Mr. Hicks’ vocals while sounding good – the guy can sing, in his range, hold a similarity in the way each tune is vocally delivered.

Following those four Americana Moments, the CD dives South of the border, or perhaps simply into South Texas. “Once Upon a Lover of Mine” carries a Latin flair with a salsa beat, but it lacks the Latin pronunciations. Mr. Hicks says “Senorita” just like most ‘gringos’ without that rolling ‘r’. While this song has the beat, it lacks the believability. Maybe a Ricky Martin accent would have helped. (I kid, I kid.) If there would have been castanets and a guy loaded on tequila doing a grito it would have been perfect as background for the local El Chico. I know this sounds in opposition with what I’ve written but I sort of enjoyed this tune and not in the ‘Gee wouldn’t cheese enchiladas hit the spot right now’ kind of way.

Leaving Mexico the listener heads North of the border or if you’re in Dallas, Texas, due East with the tune, “Seven Mile Breakdown”. This tune found all in our group united, even Darling Man. Consensus held, one of the best songs heard so far on the CD; the guys had to dive into their Spoonful of James’ (Wynn Christian) man-love moments. Long live Austin, Texas.

“Maybe You Should” brought mixed results for our little listening party. The song is a more subdued offering, appealed more to my female tastes than to the guys, one of whom excused himself saying he had to go grab some coffee soon after it began. I’d like to listen to this one a few more times and come March 10th I will be able to do just that; it’s an intriguing little mournful tune.

Then it happened. Reality stepped in my face and Taylor Hicks broke my achy breaky heart. “Keeping It Real”, in a complete twist of mullet-haired irony lifted note for note that Billy Ray Cyrus hit, “Achy Breaky Heart”. We all sat for a moment looking at one another. Dumbfounded. Frank laughed, Guy joined him, Darling Man declared, well that is the clincher, “He’s now known to me as Taylor Hacks”. (ouch) Frank had to put on Cyrus’ Youtube and they all danced around the desks two-stepping. It was funny yet mildly horrific. Guy pulled out a few internet articles about other artists who had done similar things on their albums, borrowed a guitar riff here, a lyric chain there, to the tune of Not Good in the legal beagle field. I commented perhaps Mr. Hicks had permission to use that tune. It is entirely possible. Possible but still, man, “Achy Breaky Heart”? Are you kidding me?

“I Live on a Battlefield” brought me some solace, it is a good tune, but the vocals were reminiscent of what we heard in the first four songs. Plus, I was still smarting over the achy breaky tune. “Wedding Day Blues” holds a bluegrass vibe, catchy but could have used a more sly treatment, vocally; would have provided it much more character.

“Woman’s Got to Have It” one of my favorites from this CD has Taylor and Elliot Yamin in a soulful duet, carrying a decided Motown feel. This tune moves and grooves along just what a listener might expect from a combination of Elliot and Taylor Hicks. My guypals liked it as well but they still couldn’t get past that achy breaky moment. I had to keep yelling at them to shut off Cyrus and sit down.

Taylor Hicks’ song delivery in much of this CD (“Seven Mile Breakdown” and “Woman’s Got to Have It” excluded) as well as in that Idol CD remind me of folks who are not use to public speaking or reading off a teleprompter. Oftentimes there’s a lack of real phrasing, an over pronouncing of his words, I heard this on the Idol CD as well. Hicks will deliver this straight forward singing style that loses some of the soul and heart of the song. It’s like something strange happens to him in that studio sound booth. Governor Bobby Jindal and his Republican address to the President’s speech to Congress the other night comes to mind.

I realize some of Taylor’s older fans like that sort of thing, they want to hear every single word clearly. I’m not intending to insult those fans, but I find mystery in the tunes, the unique phrasing brought to the song as important as the forced mystery of the man’s persona. The over simplification of the lyrical delivery being broken down to proper enunciation at all times smacks of some sort of Speech class erudition. It’s like that speaker who, when he’s in a room full of other people, everyone talking, is funny, charming, well-spoken; put that charming person up on a podium – all composure departs. They stand there robotically reciting their lines with a mannequin face.

I’m still smarting from that Billy Ray song, I admit I got worked up over it. I erupted into a volcanic fit over the ideology of plagiarism to the point of packing up my box of crayons and going home. I was not in the mood to play with anyone anymore that day. Or the next. I realize Mr. Hicks owes me nada, zilch, it’s not my place to throw myself screaming, face down on the carpet in a tantrum over that random irony of “Keeping it Real” to the tune of another guy’s mullet-haired hit. That still doesn’t offset my carpet burns across my nose for doing exactly that.

It’s not my place either, to demean anyone else seriously in need of a writing class for receiving a copy of this CD to review first over anyone else. The poor gal may lack some very basic skills, and is unable to realize the proper times to use words such as ‘then’ and ‘than’, ‘to’ and ‘too’ and ‘by’ and ‘buy’. It was not envy that made me speak up over her caveat, rather yet another random act of intrinsic irony that often circles around this man’s career. Hell, why would I even expect to receive a copy to review? I’m just a blogger, not a writer like that dear lady.

I’ll end this post today by adding I hate and despise plagiarism. Taking music, lyrics to create your own work not a “Taylor-Smart” move like I’ve been reading said on some of the fan sites. This is not brilliant marketing.

That said, we may discover at a later date, Billy Ray gave Hicks his blessing to use the tune. But still, “Achy Breaky Heart”? Seriously? What’s next Mr. Hicks, a gray mullet?

Billy Ray Cyrus strutting his stuff: Achy Breaky Heart


Taylor Hicks Dating and Grease

February 21, 2009

Taylor Hicks thanks the folks (without the Soul Patrol shout out) who took the time to vote on the “Live with Regis and Kelly” dating game to have Julie hit the top three. Now it’s already been talked about that Julie and her Mom were and are fans of Mr. Hicks from his Idol days, so not going to go further into that topic. I will say I thought Julie was witty, smart and took all the camera face time in stride.

Naturally I was thrilled they did the karaoke gig since I’d mentioned hoping for that on another site. Of course, think, Taylor Hicks, combined with Julie Courtney also a musician and karaoke… not a big stretch. After all Danny Boome cooked for his date, therefore Hicks should sing to his date. It’s like simple math or something.
Taylor Hicks Takes a Date: Julie Courtney

Now Julie lives in San Francisco, CA, one of my favorite cities on this planet. Someone asked me if she was also that gal rumored in Hicks’ past from a little town in Texas. I have no idea of course about that, Julie is not an uncommon name.

Another topic, on the Taylor Hicks radar, he’s apparently signed on for another run with that national tour of “Grease” – obviously this show is selling well or it would not be carrying on longer than originally announced. Word on Variety.com he’s in for the 2009 – 2010 season. Now what has many in the Hicks’ fan base slightly riled up is the 2010 part. Is this to mean that Mr. Hicks will be singing “Beauty School Drop Out” this time next year? Is that really such a bad thing as long as Mr. Hicks is able to stay on the move and gain this very positive press and attention he’s been attracting?

Remember Taylor Hicks new CD “The Distance” drops on March 10.
“Keep On Keepin On”

Cheesy Fun: Taylor Hicks on Dating With the Stars

February 19, 2009

Taylor Hicks made his “Dating with the Stars” appearance this morning on the Regis and Kelly Show. In that link, an interview with Hicks talking about his upcoming show appearance and what his thoughts might be about this date venture. I’m wondering if Bill will be around?

I’d been pulling for San Franciscan Julie since this silly contest started. Although I was saddened that Stephanie did not wear her tiara, and it would have been slightly funny to have Hicks hang out with one of his biggest Soul Patrol fans, I am relieved he made the right call.
Regis and Kelly Taylor Hicks Asks the Questions That Matter

Questions like, what would you bring to a desert island? Yeah, original material there. Steph would bring a sax, but whether she plays it we don’t know. Julie on the other hand says ‘guitar’ as in ‘pick’. Emily would bring a notebook to write her thoughts. What?

Julie’s obviously winning answer, her language of love, muah, muah, muah, muah muah, muah, muah. Exactly. Tonight Mr. Hicks and Julie go out on a date, results air tomorrow morning. I guess I will watch one more episode of Regis and Kelly. C’mon Julie, go get him tiger!

Alexis Grace, the Lady Taylor Hicks

February 18, 2009

Alexis Grace. Lady can sing. Can’t find a decent youtube yet with her in action, just the still shots. This vid is the televised act just not very clear, have a link following with better audio. She’s absolutely amazing. Idol may have found some real talent in this gal. I’m completely digging her. She reminds me of a young Dolly Parton (without all that hair) crossed with Marcia Ball. Not a bad combo.
Alexis Grace

Better Audio.
Marcia Ball.

“Jolene” Dolly Parton (with all that hair and a whack purple jumpsuit)

Taylor Hicks’ “What’s Right is Right” and What’s Right with it

February 17, 2009

Last night I wrote up a post about this video, included my complaints and observations that may have, for some readers, leaned to the negative side. Today I’ll lean toward the opposite direction and go for what I actually like about it.

For one thing, I’m tickled pink there finally is a Taylor Hicks’ music video. We fans have waited a long while for such a thing to come to be and now it has. (Rousing shouts of “Yippee” all around.)

For another, Taylor Hicks incorporated a young, artistic videographer, Jake Davis, to design and shoot this work. Mr. Davis has done an admirable job with handling wardrobe, location, lighting, tone. Having to shoot the video in Chicago he used elements that were available, the snow works very well to show Taylor as a man walking a rather lonely and somber path.

There had been a call for extras for this video and a young actress utilized as a love interest. Watching the video I really did not see the need for extras – from what I understand not many showed in the pre-blizzard bitter cold conditions. Jake instead then used the out of focus lighting technique as a way to fill space and also create mood. He captures Mr. Hicks with a film noir approach, a throw back feel to another time in the past. Utilizing what seems to be a film speed that incorporates a grainier texture along with a sepia type tone set the video into a step back in time feel. Outside color beyond the grays and amber tones have been kept to a minimum lending to the video’s artistic cohesiveness.

Taylor Hicks is in very fine voice in the video. He sounds absolutely brilliant, this song grooves along much better for me after having seen him enact it live, well live as much as film can get. The song takes on a life with the amber toned lighting and angles, the light effects Mr. Hicks is cast within to communicate a sense of loneliness, giving Taylor a haunting appeal.

This tone is further set in how the scenes with Mr. Hicks are framed with Taylor’s screen time predominantly evidenced with his profile emerging in outline, rare are the shots of his face without the light flares and side lighting. Even the scenes shot with the band on stage with Mr. Hicks, members remain engulfed in smokey shadows and the viewer left with that impression that even thought he’s on stage with other performers he’s inherently alone. I love the use of that large retro microphone, love the side lighting effects and all those ‘bubble’ light shots of the out of focus orbs following Taylor from the diner to the bar.

There’s certain aspects I’d like to have seen done differently but overall there’s more right about this video than there is wrong.
“What’s Right is Right”

Taylor Hicks, We Be Pirates

February 15, 2009

This item has been discontinued by the manufacturer.

Those the words on the amazon.com site when those seeking to purchase this umpteenth-time-promised video go to check on it. Now for those fans who have pre-purchased this CD, according to what I’ve been reading, they’ve received messages from amazon that they will receive their copy. (At least for now that’s what they’re told.) For those fans who were waiting for the actual proposed release date – they’re just SOL, at least for the time being.

Taylor Hicks concert footage shot in San Francisco, titled, “Whomp at the Warfield”, was initially viewed on the HDNet Concert Series back in October of 2007. This concert series also offers the viewer an opportunity to purchase the concert programs featured, through amazon.com.

The current collection of artists and bands in this line-up show a great list of shows to catch that I’m programming into the Tivo include the uber fab Ben Harper, John Mayer, Jack Johnson (March 1), Eric Johnson, Wyclef Jean, Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp (today). Accompanying their concert listing, also a link to many of them on the HDNet site to allow purchase of the concerts from amazon.com.

Taylor Hicks’ “Whomp at the Warfield” hit the network in October of 2007. Yet, years later and how many promises that this video, to include an interview with Mr. Hicks, is once again pulled from the shelves. It confounds me what Taylor Hicks’ camp of advisers or management think when they put a product up for sale, dangle it before their public’s eyes and then repeatedly snatch it back. Is this some sort of ‘keep the mystery alive’ fantasy angle? I kid, but truly it is confusing as to the “why” behind the continual pulling of this DVD, and Mr. Hicks still yet to capitalize on the benefits of having that video available for public purchase. Even Jessica Simpson has her reality video available to her fans, and she’s ‘pegged’ as a ‘dumb blonde’.

Googling the links for this elusive DVD, CD Universe, has it up but of course, no image available, the site reads, “Our Price: $17.55 DVD For Sale Backordered since 11/15/2008”. Backordered since when? Hitting the Yahoo.movies.com site takes one into Netflicks and Block Buster Video. What a waste.

In my on-line quest for more on this fantasy video named, “Whomp at the Warfield”, I discovered some interesting commentary that bears inclusion in this post. One loyal fan prematurely and optimistically wrote, “One thing we do know is soon the DVD release of “Whomp at the Warfield” will be out for us to purchase and we will able to watch Taylor in concert whenever we feel like it.

I can’t wait to get the DVD pop it in the player and sit in my recliner (if my husband doesn’t grab the chair first) and watch Taylor singing and dancing and entertaining the audience.”

This was wistfully written by her back on a Sunday, October 21, 2007. She’s been waiting to fight her husband for that La-Z-Boy for a long while now.

She may have an even longer wait as on Overstock.com “Whomp at the Warfield” isn’t due out until 2037. Man, that’s 28 year’s worth of suspense over a DVD. By then, man we likely won’t even have DVD players as we know them. If you doubt what I’m saying just wander over to Overstock.com and see for yourself. It’s worth a giggle or two anyway.

Reading through the amazon.com commentaries I can’t help but think what some of these ardent and loyal fans might be thinking after their writing such glowing praise for this DVD that may never be.

“Worth the Wait!, November 29, 2008” That title of this review made me chuckle, because this dear soul had no idea what she was really alluding to at that time. She wrote under her title,
“A friend copied the HDNet video for me, but I’ve still ordered the official release!”
Yes, she did not want to be guilty of purely pirating this work from her Idol. She carried on with, “Until we can get to another concert, “Whomp At the Warfield” will do just fine! Great to see Taylor in action, and it was fun to see the teens react to him and his awesome band. They loved the DVD and you will too!

I like how she’s incorporating ‘teens’ you know that’s the rage right now for those street-teamers for Hicks, rally on that the younger kids dig him too. Makes him more youthful, you see.

Then there was this, “Blues, Funk, Rock All Here! Awesome Collection!, November 10, 2008”
By one of the more fanatical of Taylor Hicks’ fans, I was completely entertained by this lady from California and her ardent attempts to denigrate any other Idol contestant and fully praise and uplift Mr. Hicks. Don’t ever expect anything out of this gal but a true meaning behind the “Patrol” aspect of Soul Patrol – she takes it literally.
“I’m not sure what video “Cassie” saw, but ‘Badge’ and ‘Nekkid in the Jungle’ were *SMOKING HOT* awesome covers!!!!!!! My gosh girl, you better check your pulse because it was two of the hottest performances I’ve ever seen! “The Fall”, a Hicks original, is a beautiful song – very poignant and definitely one of the highlights of the performance!
This is a GREAT collection which made for one high energy show! I highly recommend this video to all blues/funk/rock fans out there!”

She was responding to this post by another desiring to contribute her thoughts on the mysterious offering.

“Whooppee! After more than a year of promises! The Whomp DVD is finally released.
Really glad that a lot of fans finally have the opportunity to buy this oldie-but-goodie.
I’ve seen Taylor live at least a dozen times. Some good stuff on this DVD, but don’t rush out to waste your money.
Lots of negatives on this release: My Friend (an upbeat but boring orig), The Fall (a very boring orig), Badge (lousy cover), Naked in the Jungle (WTF?).”

She was at least trying to keep in real in pointing out the time-line. Sadly she wrote that in the Fall of 2008.

A more current optimistic fan trying to help Taylor Hicks out wrote,
“He & his fabulous band feed off one another for some rousing renditions of both his originals and some covers. Extra punch from solos by the band members and Taylor tagging great classics into the main song. I’m excited to finally get this and his sophomore CD, which releases the same month.

Oh woe, alas not to be it seems. Although his new CD is still set to release on March 10th and he does have that music video set to debut – created by Jake Davis, featuring the song, “What’s Right is Right” on February 17th. Perhaps “Whomp” was stopped so as to not compete with “What’s Right is Right”? Now that’s just silly. Comparing those apples to oranges, or at least tangerines to oranges.

For those ‘Pirates’ reading this post, Whomp on over to this site for your Bootleg copy of the DVD pulled off of Amazon.com. Ahoy Mateys time to Mutiny!
“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”

video created by thisshallbetheday
/// ETA /// ALERT: If being a Pirate is not of interest to you, Suncoast has up a link for purchase of this elusive DVD. Hurry.

Taylor Hicks Goes to Disneyland and Love is in the Air

February 14, 2009

Okay, perhaps not Disneyland, rather the Florida version, Disney World. Too, Taylor finds himself perched on the precipice of True Love. The life of an entertainer is a busy one and this past Thursday Taylor Hicks joined six other past Idol winners on parade Thursday night for the opening of the Disney attraction, “American Idol”. Finally after eight seasons, Mickey, and Minnie Mouse capitalize on honor the reality show. Gosh almost makes it seem as if perhaps this show is nearing the end of its run, an exhibit of sorts in memory of a program famous for stomping the ratings for any other show sharing its time slots.

Finishing his parade day duties in the land of Walt, Mr. Hicks will jet up to New York City to experience his very own Dating game on Live with Regis and Kelly; He’s entered a contest this next week in a segment called, “Dating With the Stars”. A little late for Valentines Day but hey, better late than never. Besides, Valentines Day just a tad over commercialized overrated.

Taylor states in his show bio that he’s desiring, “…a free spirited career-minded gal who can be serious during the week but can cut loose on the weekends.” (I’ve already covered in another post.) In other words, nothing serious for our Teen Angel, plus he certainly doesn’t want to be your Sugar Daddy; contestants and potential love interests best come equipped with a life and a career, but be ready to kick it up on the weekends.

Of the contestants selected for the at-home folks to hit with votes, these lovelies have made it to the Top Three. That will bring them to the Regis and Kelly Show for a chance to win a date, as well as national television exposure alongside Taylor Hicks.

First up, there’s blonde ambition, Ms. Julie Courtney. She’s a 31 year old Real Estate Consultant out of one of my favorite cities, San Francisco. She reminds me of someone…just can’t place who right now… Oh yeah, she also sings. Julie’s MySpazz.

Speaking of California, there was another entertainer, actor, a celebrity turned state Governator who played a similar game back in the day…

Leaving California, the next contestant is from clear across the continent, already equipped with a tiara, fitting for a possible new role of ‘Queen of the Soul Patrol’! Now, I’ve actually known gals who for fun, will wear one of these head sparklers out on the town just to be sparkly and shiny different, but something tells me, yes I’m perceptive like that, this lady possibly a past beauty queen contestant…or it was just her birthday… She’s 27 years old and hails from Brandon, Florida. Most likely she does not prance around in a tiara full-time (well, you never know) as she’s employed as an “Office Manager” although we’re not enlightened as to what kind of office she’s the manager of or which company. Could be an Office Depot for all we know. Her name is Stephanie Hlad.

Next up for the honor of a limo ride about The Big Apple, another 27 year old, also from the East coast, out of Washington, DC. Her current career is listed as “Online Campaign Coordinator”. Interesting, since having someone to efficiently coordinate Taylor Hicks’ on-line world would be a very good thing. She has a brilliant smile, very cute with a ‘girl-next-door’ appeal. Her name is as cute as her smile; Emily Stivers.

Since we know no more than their smiles, present hair color, tiaras and occupations as listed, it would really be impossible to prognosticate the winner of that date with Taylor Hicks. I am so hoping Stephanie will wear that tiara, they are so underused.
Celebrating Valentines Day, “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” Eric Clapton.

Video c/o chrisbekas

Whomp, don’t run for your Bootleg copy of the DVD pulled off of Amazon.com.