Monday, March 9

From the VFTW Vault: Taylor Hicks Album Review

I've had a few requests for these so I'm re-posting my old Idol album reviews from a couple years ago. I might do some more, because there is no shortage of horrible music produced and shat out by ex-Idols.

I've linked the songs on youtube to really bring you back to when Soul Patrol-mania was running wild. These videos are Taylor Hicks fans created, so it just adds another layer of awesomeness to the listening experience.


GRADING THE IDOLS’ ALBUMS - Taylor Hicks - "Taylor Hicks"

[FROM 3-15-07]

Hello Class!

I’m happy to introduce a new feature on VoteForTheWorst. It’s my new “Grading the Idols’ Albums” project. Each week I will be listening to an album from a former Idol winner or Finalist, and will review the CD.

And joining me on this project are my esteemed colleagues Master Freech- Professor of Musicology, and Dean Kyle. My brother, Freech actually has a Master’s degree in Music Studies and has never seen American Idol. His opinions are unspoiled by knowledge of the singers. My friend Kyle is a casual viewer of the show, and of course I'm an American Idol aficianado, for entertainment purposes only.


Cover: Taylor sittin’ in the studio with a psycho-death stare. (That probably didn’t help album sales.)

Theme: Always on the move.

Best song: Heaven knows. It borrows from Ray Charles and Smokey Robinson.

First person or Entity thanked in liner notes: God, then his whole family – including Crazy Uncle Zephyr who likes to get drunk and expose himself to tourists. (Okay, it doesn’t really thank Uncle Zephyr.)

Today we’ll review last year’s American Idol, and Vote For the Worst Champion - Taylor Hicks’ eponymous CD.

Kyle: “Wow, he’s that big a deal that he named the album after himself?”

Chan: “He’s the winner, so I guess he’s a big deal. Once we finish reviewing the winners we got a whole bunch of these CDs. Even that red-headed freak from season 2 put out an album.” [NOTE: WE STILL HAVE NOT LISTENED TO THE ALBUM FROM THAT RED-HEADED FREAK YET. MAYBE WE WILL. FINGERS CROSSED.]

Freech: “Jeez, what kind of masochists are we?”

Song Title: The Runaround

Sounds Like: A vanilla Billy Joel song, with a marching band drum open.

Sample Lyric: “I’m getting an A in Broken Hearts – I got my degree in Crying.”

Professor Chan: What kind of a man gets his degree in crying? I can expect that from Clay Aiken, but what were you thinking, Taylor? The marching drum intro gave me a headache, and we got 11 more songs to do.

Kyle: Is this song about going to school? It’s kind of a generic ode to love. Like telling a girl: “I love you.” But in a less clever way. And was Michael MacDonald busy when they were recording this?

Freech: This song makes me want to do the Kevin Bacon dance. But I don’t mean that in a good way. It definitely has that Footloose ‘80s feel to it. But again, not in a good way.

Professor Chan: The liner notes give Taylor a drumming credit on this song.

Freech: I actually liked the marching band drums, because after that, that’s when the pussyness kicks in.

Kyle: Taylor is giving us a whole new education of pussy.

Song Title: Dream Myself Awake.


Sounds Like: A vanilla Aerosmith song.

Sample Lyric: “Do me wrong, Do me right, Do me anyway you want tonight.”

Kyle: Oh, gross. Song two and Taylor’s already forcing me to imagine him getting it on. What’s up with that porno chorus? What exactly does he want the girl to do to him?

Freech: What “girl?”

Professor Chan: Wow, in the song he rhymes ‘waiting’, ‘aching’ and ‘fading.’ I guess they rhyme, in that they all have two syllables.

Freech: At least “Crying” had the sense to rhyme ‘cryin’, ‘tryin’ and ‘dyin’. Those words actually do rhyme.

Professor Chan: Blame Rob Thomas. He wrote the lyrics to this one.

Kyle: Rob Thomas couldn’t have been all that inspired to work on a Taylor Hicks album. He just scribbled something on a napkin and that became this song.

Song Title: Heaven Knows

Sounds like: A vanilla Blues Brothers.

Sample Lyric: “I’m crying “How you say goodbye so easily? Why you take your lovin’ so far from me?”

Freech: Dammit, he’s crying again.

Professor Chan: The dude won American Idol, he should sack up and be happy.

Freech: It’s such bad phrasing. The singing doesn’t match the tempo. Taylor’s not even counting.

Professor Chan: The song starts off with a little Blues Brothers, then the melody is a direct lift from KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See.” This song is a Frankenstein’s monster made up of better parts. The liner notes say it samples Ray Charles and Smokey Robinson as well.

Freech: Why don’t they just do a Ray Charles song, then?

Kyle: Next!

Song Title: Gonna Move

Sounds Like: A vanilla Stevie Wonder, if he was deaf as well as blind.

Sample Lyric: “I’m gonna move away from here. You can find me if you wanna go there.”

Professor Chan: It starts off with a cool Stevie Wonder funk groove.

Freech: You think the pussy isn’t coming, but fear not, as soon as the singing comes in it’s there. Once again, it’s horrible phrasing. It’s like he’s trying to do a cool jazz thing where he’s swinging the lyrics, but the words don’t all fit into the measure.

Kyle: I’m glad you didn’t say ‘singing.’ Taylor isn’t singing on any of these songs. He’s kind of talking at a bar, and the music is coming from a juke box.

Freech: A juke box playing elevator music.

Professor Chan: I say that if you listened to the first four bars of instrumental ass-kicking, then stopped the CD, you’d have a good song.

Song Title: Wherever I Lay My Hat

Sounds Like: Taylor butchering a Marvin Gaye song.

Sample Lyric: “By the look in your eyes, I can tell you’re gonna cry. Is it over me?”

Professor Chan: More crying?

Freech: At least it’s not him crying this time. Any more of his girly whining and I’d have to kick his ass… except then he’d cry some more.

Kyle: He’s supposed to be a blues singer. Blues singers don’t cry, they suffer through their pain. Taylor’s just being a sissy.

Freech: The other theme of the album is that Taylor’s on the move again. Wherever I lay my hat is home. It sure ain’t Metallica.

Professor Chan: Seriously, though. Does any girl cry when Taylor leaves them?

Freech: Again, what “girl?”

Kyle: The song sounds like Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young.”

Professor Chan: Well, it was written by Marvin Gaye. So Rod probably stole it from Marvin.

Song Title: Give Me Tonight

Sounds Like: A vanilla version of Rolling Stones’ “Meet You.” The one that goes “doo-doo-DOO-ooh-doo-do-doo.

Sample Lyric: “There was magic in the air, I was trying not to stare, But you caught me, You caught me cold.”

Professor Chan: I like the part where the back-up singers kick in and it gets good.

Freech: Yeah, because Taylor’s not singing on those parts.

Kyle: Is this Genesis? Did Phil Collins turn in his crappy song for the Taylor Hicks project? Actually I like the back-up singers, too. If this wasn’t Taylor Hicks, this would probably be a decent song.

Song Title: Just To Feel That Way

Sounds Like: A vanilla Goo-Goo Dolls song (now THAT is vanilla)

Sample Lyric: “Can’t keep running in circles, I’m standing right here, Could you rewrite the story, But trade all the tears, Oh it’s not too late to feel that way.”

(We look at each other for 20 seconds of stunned silence at the crappiness of this song.)

Kyle: His voice has no character. It could be anybody singing on this song.

Professor Chan: Anybody with no range and washed out vocals.

Freech: No kidding. He’s got maybe an octave range. So all the melodies have two or three notes max. He can’t hit any high notes. That would at least break the monotony.

Kyle: Did they have naked pictures of Bob Seger to force him to sing this song? Taylor sounds like he’s asleep.

Professor Chan: Yeah, Taylor is definitely channeling Bob Seger. I liked when he was on Idol and he had his own personality.

Freech: Now he’s just shouting.

Professor Chan: This is easily the worst song on the album.

Freech: How can you tell? It’s like judging different gradations of crap.

Kyle: This song is more of a non-solid, smellier grade of crap.

Song Title: The Maze

Sounds Like: An uptempo vanilla boy band song.

Sample Lyric: “Shadows to the right, and to the left. I see myself and I’m not myself.”

Professor Chan: Wow, he rhymed “myself” and “myself.”

Freech: Hey, at least it does rhyme.

Kyle: This doesn’t sound like a Taylor song at all. It’s a disco dance track. All these songs sound like they’re meant for someone else.

Professor Chan: Do you think maybe American Idol was hedging their bets that Katharine McPhee would win, and they wrote all these songs for her?

Freech: There’s no right person to sing the shit on this album.

Song Title: Places I’ve Been


Sounds Like: A less manly Bette Midler with piano song.

Sample Lyric: “All the places I’ve been meant nothing. They were nowhere, ‘cause you were not there.”

Kyle: This sounds like a crappy, warmed over Bette Midler song.

Professor Chan: (reads liner notes) Oh, of course. Diane Warren wrote it. She wrote for every terrible, boring singer in the last 20 years. She wrote that sucktacular Aerosmith Armageddon song. She wrote songs for Celine Deion, Michael Bolton… Milli Vanilla.

Kyle: Taylor’s on the move again. The theme of this album should be “I’m moving.” Why does he always have to be moving in his songs?

Song Title: Soul Thing

Sounds Like: A Taylor hicks original, minus the entertaining funny faces he makes.

Sample Lyric: “I’ve been traveling all these years, just barely getting by.”

Kyle: Again with the moving. If he’s not crying he’s on the road.

Freech: The song title is strongly ironic as there’s no soul on this entire album. A “soul” album with no soul. What is it then? Nothing?

Kyle: If I was black I’d be offended.

Professor Chan: This album is so lacking in soul that it turned into a vacuum and sucked itself out of being. The only proof that it ever existed was that I paid for it and I have a receipt.

Song Title: The Deal

Sounds Like: Instantly forgettable “soul” with the worst sax solo ever!

Sample Lyric: “Wherever you go, My heart’s bound to follow. Wherever you go, then I’ll be there.”

Freech: Taylor shows us how to stretch a four note range over 45 minutes of totally bland music.

Professor Chan: Yeah, have you noticed how every song starts with a four bar instrumental intro, then Taylor comes in and mumbles. Verse, chorus, rinse repeat. This whole album was written by the Pop-o-Matic songwriting machine. This song is actively struggling with the shoddy production values.

Freech: Once again Taylor isn’t even singing, he’s schizophrenically mumbling nonsense.

Kyle: Al Green just vomited.

Song Title: The Right Place

Sounds Like: Slow, whiny love song.

Sample Lyric: “When you’re down on your luck, Well you just look around, you’ll see that you’ve come to the right place, baby.”

Kyle: He’s thankful that he finally found an apartment, so he’s in “The Right Place.” And he wants to thank God and his realtor.

Professor Chan: (reads liner notes) Oh man, Brian Adams wrote this song so of course it’s really, really good. (Said with lots of sarcasm)

Kyle: Hey, did Taylor just crack on a high note?

Freech: Probably. The engineers were too lazy to sweeten it. They said, aw screw it, nobody will make it to track twelve.

Professor Chan: Be happy for the small things. This could be the Wal-Mart version of the album. Then we’d have to suffer through “Do I Make You Proud” as a bonus track.

Kyle: Hey the song ends with the McDonald’s riff. I like McDonald’s.


Professor Chan: Hot damn, now we know why nobody is buying this album. It’s terrible. I mean, I didn’t expect it to be good, but at least maybe it would have a Joe Cocker cover or a funny-bad Eagles song. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Taylor sung “Desperado?” No, instead, this album is airbrushed, putrid crap. The producers are saying the album sales will continue to build, but based on what? All 600,000 people who bought this have to feel like I do.

Freech: You mean 600,000 morons bought this album?

Kyle: This album is for anybody who’s into songs about moving. But basically, if I had to sum up the album in one word, I’d say “ironic.” It’s a soul album with absolutely no soul. Taylor doesn’t sound natural on any of the songs. The album is completely bland, repetitive, soulless and just wrong. The album is incorrect.

Professor Chan: It only gets better from here. Next week we’re reviewing Clay Aiken’s first album.

Freech: I can’t do this any more. Count me out. This album actually caused me physical pain.

Professor Chan: Trust me, dude. We’ll rope you in, somehow.


So there you have it, the historic first Idol album review. Watching some of the live videos reminds me that Idol years are kind of like President years in terms of aging. So just like all Presidents age faster due to stress, Idol contestants age four times as fast after they LEAVE Idol.

From what I can tell The Idol Producers pitched in $82.25 for production albums and a bottle of Southern Comfort to entice Taylor into the studio for about an hour to record this album. Horrible production values, dubious songwriting talent working on the cheap (Kara Dioguardi has a songwriting credit), and the usual suck-ass Idol influences didn't help Taylor's career one iota. Now he's a joke to the Producers too, as Simon cracked a Taylor Hicks joke last week that drew big laughs from the peanut gallery.

Aw, Taylor, we still love you. I'll pay for your new CD when it comes out this month. You're our VFTW Champion, man.


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