Woman's Gotta Have It
Filmed at The Workplay Theater in Birmingham, AL 9-26-09 with Ona Watson.
Song available on Taylor's new album, The Distance.
On sale now! Pick your copy today!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Daughtry Bores Fans at Arena Concert

According to Madison.com, Daughtry's first arena tour flopped hard! The fact that tickets are being cut in half for his tour (some being sold for as little as $13.99 and still not selling out) and his new album flopping at the record stores (and soundscan), I'd say Daughtry's 15 mins are just about up. Read on...

Fifty-two years ago, when Jerry Lee Lewis pounded out that dizzy rock 'n' roll classic "Great Balls of Fire," could he have even imagined a time when actual balls of fire would thunder forth onstage to a flaccid version of the genre he helped define?

Probably not. He probably couldn't have imagined "American Idol," either, or the relentless stream of carefully packaged singers it keeps shooting out.

Yet here we are. Saturday night at the Alliant Energy Center, massively successful "American Idol" finalist Chris Daughtry staged a spectacle with his band Daughtry that copped rock's power without much heart.

Yes, there were great balls of fire, torrents of sparkly firecrackers and booming canon shots. Daughtry (the man) can posture all he wants, hold his arms up to the heavens in actorly distress and flex his sculpted and tattooed biceps, but he never called forth anything like the feral shiver of Lewis yelping "I want to tell the world that you're mine, mine, mine, mine!"

But let's forget Jerry Lee Lewis for now. He's such a distant cousin to today's hard rock that it's a bit of an unfair comparison. Even in the context of the hard rock genre that Daughtry places itself in, however, Saturday night's show fell short. There were many times during the show when the band came close. Lead guitarist Josh Steely would pluck out a nasty opening hook, and I'd think "Alright! Rock 'n' roll!" But then Daughtry (the man) would neuter it with a plodding melody and brooding lyrics.

So he's a sap and doesn't do anything Creed or Nickelback hasn't already done. This should come as no surprise to anyone who's heard the band's self-titled 2006 debut or this year's follow-up, "Leave This Town." But what's most disappointing is that Daughtry can't muster the emotions of the songs any better live.

Even the fans, who filled about two-thirds of the Coliseum, looked bored during songs like "One Last Chance" and busied themselves with cell phones and texting. In general, though, the crowd gave the band an enthusiastic reception, sang along to the radio hits and pummeled the ground like a stampede of animals for the encore. It's amazing what being on television will do for a band.

Like openers Cavo and Theory of a Deadman, Chris Daughtry is a gracious presence on stage and seemed genuinely grateful to be performing. His energy never lagged during the 90-minute show, and whatever he lacks in songwriting and emoting, he makes up partially with his fine, arena-ready voice -- all the more impressive on Saturday evening since he said he'd spent the day before sick in his hotel room.

Mid-show the rest of the band left the stage, and he sat on a stool for a faithful acoustic cover of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight." ("Put that song on the top of the list of songs I wish I wrote," he said afterward.)

Daughtry can belt out a ballad, but his voice sounded best in arena rock mode. Likewise, the band seemed most comfortable and at ease battering out larger-than-life rock like the grand finale "There and Back Again." In between Daughtry's megaphone-distorted vocals and bassist JP Paul's slapping solos, "There and Back Again" was the only time during the show when the music seemed worthy of fire balls.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hicks Reinvents Career Post-'Idol'

Terrific piece by Randy Cordova from the Arizona Republic! It's nice this writer is perceptive enough to understand how hard it is to sustain the huge momentum coming out of American Idol in the short term and more importantly in the long term - and what unbelievably high expectations are demanded. Like Taylor Hicks says, "it isn't really about how many records you sell. The key is to be able to sustain yourself and to keep having gigs, whether it's Broadway or records or TV shows."

Taylor Hicks knows the rap he gets. Once "American Idol" ended, performers like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood went on to enormous recording careers.

Hicks, to put it bluntly, didn't.

After winning "American Idol" in 2006, his first album appeared in stores that December. The disc sold more than a million copies, earning platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. Those are great figures for almost any new major-label act. But in Hicks' case, coming off the "Idol" tidal wave, it was viewed as a disappointment. He was dropped by Arista Records last year.

"When you come off of the show, it's pretty obvious that people can say whatever they want about you," Hicks says. "It isn't really about how many records you sell. The key is to be able to sustain yourself and to keep having gigs, whether it's Broadway or records or TV shows."

That's where the true level of post-"Idol" success can be measured, says Sandra Deane, AOL television editor.

"People have unfair expectations of the Idols," she says. "The bar was set really high because of Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, and that kind of thing is lightning in a bottle."

Indeed, the Idols who have been dropped by their labels probably outnumber those who have kept their original deals.

Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, Katharine McPhee, Bo Bice, Blake Lewis and Diana DeGarmo all lost their post-"Idol" gigs with Clive Davis-affiliated labels.

Of course, it's not like the performers vanish. Beatboxer Lewis has landed on a new label and recently issued a disc called "Heartbreak on Vinyl." Glamour girl McPhee has turned to films and has a new disc due in January. DeGarmo is currently in the off-Broadway hit "The Toxic Avenger."

Southern rocker Bice still tours the country and releases products through his own label. He appreciates the boost "Idol" gave to his career.

"People know who Bo Bice is who didn't know me before," he says. "I can really see the blessings the show gave me."

Deane says the fan base these performers are handed from a prime-time TV showcase is one reason they can survive.

"They've had this mass exposure that gives them an automatic fan base," she says. "Then they just need to find the right thing for them to keep at it. Being a pop star who sells a lot of records is a very narrow niche. These people are finding their own markets."

It's working out nicely for Hicks, who landed at No. 10 when Forbes published its list of the top 10 earners from "American Idol" in 2008. Thanks to "Grease," record royalties and his solo gigs, he earned $300,000. It's quite a distance from David Archuleta at No. 9 ($1.3 million), but it's nothing to sniff at.

"Just because you don't have success on radio doesn't mean you don't have success anywhere else," Hicks says. "I think reinvention is the key in this business. If you don't reinvent yourself, you have a short life span."

Even more importantly: He's doing something that he wants to do.

"Taylor Hicks is still a household name," Deane says. "As long as he's making his money doing something he's really good at and something that he loves, he's certainly a success."