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The Emergence of Taylor Hicks
Topic Started: Jul 6 2011, 02:30 PM (4,910 Views)
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credit to TerminallyChill420


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Here is a tidbit of AI Season 5 Rewind:

courtesy of mmprolsuv



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"Season 5 Hollywood Week"

credit to BigTayFan

Colorful shirt...

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Pondering his chances:

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The performance:

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A little nod to "the man upstairs"

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He made it:

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Taylor speaks about the Top 24 Hollywood Experience:

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Taylor makes the TOP 24 : IT'S HOLLYWOOD TIME

The famous GreenMile Walk : credit to Aliceintaylorland

Here is the Levon performance . On the February 22, 2006 date , the top 12 guys performed.

Patrick Hall - Come to My Window (Melissa Etheridge)
David Radford - Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
Bucky Covington - Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
Will Makar - I Want You Back (The Jackson Five)
José "Sway" Penala - Reasons (Earth, Wind & Fire)
Chris Daughtry - Wanted Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi)
Kevin Covais - One Last Cry (Brian McKnight)
Gedeon McKinney - Shout (The Isley Brothers)
Elliott Yamin - If You Really Love Me (Stevie Wonder)
Bobby Bennett - Copacabana (Barry Manilow)
Ace Young - Father Figure (George Michael)
Taylor Hicks - Levon (Elton John)

Thanks to Aliceintaylorland

The Chippendale comment was made about Gedeon McKinney: Gedeon McKinney.
Randy: "That was good." Paula: "It was a great surprise." Simon: "It was as if I was watching the warm-up act for the Chippendales. Your smile bothers me."

February 22, 2006
Dorks! Some lovable, some not
American Idol Season 5
February 22, 2006

I don't have high hopes for the "guys" (aren't they really just boys? Well, except for Old Man Taylor). They're just too dang dorky.

Patrick Hall is going to "bring it," predictably. Dork factor is 6 out of 10 (10 being pocket protector/sniffly nose weirdo). Skinny men shouldn't swagger. He's no pop star. He would be fine on contemporary Christian radio. Ooh, Patrick has wierd friends in the audience.

Randy: "I kinda dug it, man." Paula: "You're awesome." Simon: "It was a terrible song."

David Radford is a crooner. I am so, so tired of crooners. Dork factor: 5. Singing Sinatra as a 17-year-old is inherently uncool. And he looks really strange when he sings. At least his clothes and hair aren't working against him. Crazy Little Thing Called Love isn't really a stretch, kiddo.

Randy: "I thought that was terrible. There was no originality." Paula: "I didn't think it was horrible." Simon: "I have a feeling the audience at home will like you."

Bucky Covington. Dork factor: 4. An awkward hick! A rare, rare breed. Oh, geez, he's singing Skynyrd’s Simple Man. I'm struggling to understand his voice. It's far too growly, but it's also kinda sweet.

Randy: "You have a nice tone." Paula: "It's like a whole journey for you." Simon: "I like the fact that you're very raw."

Ryan: "This is a real guy, here. Soon your hair will be spiked." I love Bucky's blank, blinking stare.

Will Makar. Dork factor: 7. He's a scrawny kid in a blazer. Someone needs to go to town on those eyebrows. He's singing I Want You Back. I have absolutely no feeling about this performance.

Randy: "You did your thing. I was entertained." Paula: "You are adorable." Simon: "Reality check. Vocally, it was completely and utterly average."

Jose Penala. Dork factor: 0. He's stylish. This song is all over the place. Weak falsetto. He's an entertainer, but still not nearly as interesting as the best girls.

Randy: "We got a hot one tonight!" Paula: "That was truly amazing." Simon: "I thought it was a really pimpy, fur-draped Earth, Wind and Fire."

Chris Daughtery. Dork factor: 1. He's rocker stylish, but the super-stylized facial hair is overdoing it. Singing Wanted Dead or Alive. BON JOVI! RAWK! Heck, he does a pretty great Jon Bon Jovi impersonation. All right, he won me over. Or maybe I'm hypnotized by those flames behind him.

Randy: "That was really, really good." Paula: "I am so wowed by you." Simon: "Now I'm hearing somebody with potential. That was superb."

Kevin Covais. Dork factor: 9. He's lovable, so I won't give him a 10. But he's a baby and he has a very visible lisp and he refers to himself as a "fellow." The performance was cute, like a dog wearing a cape.

Randy: "Dude, that was the bomb, man." Paula: "You make me feel proud." Simon: "I like you, but vocally, it was bordering on excrutiating."

Whoa, Babydoll Kevin just got fondled by all the girls! Looks like I'll have to take two points off that dork factor.

Gedeon McKinney. Dork factor: 2. It's the way he overpronounces every word. But he's a pretty fabulous singer.

Randy: "That was good." Paula: "It was a great surprise." Simon: "It was as if I was watching the warm-up act for the Chippendales. Your smile bothers me."

As stupid as he is, I usually agree with Simon's blunt judgments. This time, I think he was just being controversial to be controversial.

Elliott Yamin. Dork factor: I'm at a loss. He reminds me of Mitch Hedberg for some reason. But he's wearing a cassette tape belt buckle! That’s dorky! I’m giving him a 3. He's not a pretty man. His singing? I guess it's all right.

Randy: "You sounded brilliant, man." Paula: "Great performance from beginning to end." Simon: "Out of five seasons, I think potentially you are the best male vocalist we've ever had."

Whoa. That's a big freakin' deal.

Bobby Bennett. Dork factor: 8. He's goofy, awkward and singing Copa Cabana because his late grandma wanted him to. Oh, this is horrifying. You can't help but sound like a lounge singer when singing Barry Manilow. Even the girls, who have been so supportive thus far, look a little less perky. Except for Kellie Pickler, who, if you haven't noticed, is mugging in every shot that comes her way.

Randy: "It's like I'm watching someone from a whole different era." Paula: "We have all enjoyed your showmanship." Simon: "That was a complete nightmare."

Ace Young. I don't like Ace. I can't explain it. Oh, anyway, dork factor: 0. He's got the looks, he's got a voice, but he's just too much for me. Too perfect, too pretty, and still appears to be wearing blush.

Randy: "You definitely are a star." Paula: "You're a star; God bless you." Simon: "Not the best vocals we've heard tonight."

Old Man Taylor Hicks is the last guy. Dork factor: Unchartable. He's on a completely different plane. He's singing Levon, which is a great, great song. I have high hopes and he did a really great job. Wouldn't it be awesome if he won the whole thing?

Randy: "You got it going on." Paula: "You have a powerful passion. You love what you do." Simon: "I said I didn't think you should make the finals. I was wrong."
Tomorrow night, the unthinkable happens: four people will die.

Oh wait. They will be voted off, anyway. I make no predictions, except that Stevie Scott is totally, completely and utterly gone.

Posted by Sara Cress at February 22, 2006 09:03 PM


TVGuide Channel is rebroadcasing the Las Vegas auditions again:

courtesy of Tayloronmymind


Idol Chit-Chat

Thursday, November 12, 2009
"Rewind" to Season Five

I still consider them to be the best Top 12 in “Idol” history and now you can relive their journey…

Beginning Saturday, “American Idol Rewind” will begin airing the Top 12 episodes from Season 5.

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For those of you who don't remember, you're looking at Bucky Covington, Melissa McGhee, Lisa Tucker, Ace Young, Paris Bennett, Elliott Yamin, Chris Daughtry, Taylor Hicks, Kellie Pickler, Katharine McPhee, Kevin Covais and Mandisa...

“Rewind” airs weekends in syndication, so check your local listings. You can also catch encores on the TV Guide Network…

Photo Credit: FremantleMedia North America

Top 24 Fox 6 Interview :

Access Hollywood: Idol Extra Interview

A humorous video envoking the idiosyncracies of the Idol Judges.

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Top 12 finalists

Taylor Hicks
Taylor Reuben Hicks is from Birmingham, Alabama. He is gray-haired and performed "A Change Is Gonna Come" by Sam Cooke at his original audition in Las Vegas. At the first audition, the judges were surprised by his appearance. He is one of the five winners in American Idol history to never be in the bottom three. He won the competition on May 24.


"Levon" (Elton John)
"Easy" (The Commodores)
"Takin' It to the Streets" (The Doobie Brothers)
"Living for the City" (Stevie Wonder)
"Not Fade Away" (The Crickets featuring Buddy Holly)
"Trouble" (Ray LaMontagne)
"Take Me Home, Country Roads" (John Denver)
"Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (Queen)
"You Send Me" (Sam Cooke)
"Just Once" (James Ingram)
"Play That Funky Music" (Wild Cherry)
"Something" (The Beatles)
"Jailhouse Rock" (Elvis Presley) - Top 2 05/10/06
"In the Ghetto" (Elvis Presley) - Top 2 05/10/06
"Dancing in the Dark" (Bruce Springsteen) - Top 2 5/17/06
"You Are So Beautiful" (Joe Cocker) - Top 2 5/17/06
"Try a Little Tenderness" (Otis Redding) - Top 2 5/17/06
"Living for the City" (Stevie Wonder) - Winner 5/24/06
"Levon" (Elton John) - Winner 5/24/06
"Do I Make You Proud" - Winner 5/24/06

Katherine McPhee

Katherine Hope McPhee's mother is a vocal coach. At the time she auditioned in San Francisco, Randy Jackson said her audition was the best he'd heard yet that season. At the end of the first semi-final round, Simon Cowell said that he had heard four very good singers that evening and that McPhee was the best among them. She is from Sherman Oaks, Los Angeles, California. McPhee was the runner-up on American Idol as announced on the May 24 finale.

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"Since I Fell for You" (Barbra Streisand)
"All in Love Is Fair" (Stevie Wonder)
"Think" (Aretha Franklin)
"Until You Come Back to Me" (Stevie Wonder)
"Come Rain or Come Shine" (Ella Fitzgerald)
"The Voice Within" (Christina Aguilera) - Bottom 2 03/29/06
"Bringing Out the Elvis" (Faith Hill)
"Who Wants to Live Forever" (Queen)
"Someone to Watch Over Me" (Frank Sinatra)
"I Have Nothing" (Whitney Houston) - Top 2 04/26/06
"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)" (Phil Collins)
"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" (KT Tunstall)
"Hound Dog" / "All Shook Up" (Elvis Presley) - Bottom 2 05/10/06
"Can't Help Falling in Love" (Elvis Presley) - Bottom 2 05/10/06
"I Believe I Can Fly" (R. Kelly)- Top 2 5/17/06
"Over the Rainbow" (Judy Garland) - Top 2 5/17/06
"I Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues" (Ella Fitzgerald) - Top 2 5/17/06
"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" (KT Tunstall) - Runner-Up 5/24/06
"Over the Rainbow" (Judy Garland) - Runner-Up 5/24/06
"My Destiny" - Runner-Up 5/24/06

Elliott Yamin
Efraym Elliott Yamin was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in Richmond, Virginia. He started singing at the age of five and did not have any formal training. He auditioned for American Idol in Boston. After his first semi-final performance, Simon Cowell said that he was potentially the best male vocalist in American Idol history. Yamin finished in third place in one of the closest outcomes in Idol history.

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"If You Really Love Me" (Stevie Wonder)
"Moody's Mood for Love" (James Moody)
"Heaven" (Bryan Adams)
"Knocks Me Off My Feet" (Stevie Wonder)
"Teach Me Tonight" (The DeCastro Sisters)
"I Don't Want to Be" (Gavin DeGraw)
"If Tomorrow Never Comes" (Garth Brooks) - Bottom 2 04/05/06
"Somebody to Love" (Queen) - Bottom 3 04/12/06
"It Had to Be You" (Frank Sinatra)
"A Song for You" (Donny Hathaway)
"On Broadway" (George Benson) - Bottom 2 05/03/06
"Home" (Michael Bublé) - Bottom 2 05/03/06
"If I Can Dream" (Elvis Presley) - Top 2 05/10/06
"Trouble" (Elvis Presley) - Top 2 05/10/06
"Open Arms" (Journey) -
"What You Won't Do For Love" (Bobby Caldwell) -
"I Believe to My Soul" (Ray Charles)
- Eliminated 05/17/06

Chris Daughtry
Christopher Adam "Chris" Daughtry is a former car service worker from McLeansville, North Carolina. During the audition round, he was profiled as a "Rocker Dad." He originally auditioned in Denver.

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"Wanted Dead or Alive" (Bon Jovi)
"Hemorrhage (In My Hands)" (Fuel)
"Broken" (Seether featuring Amy Lee)
"Higher Ground" (Stevie Wonder)
"I Walk the Line" (Johnny Cash)
"What If" (Creed)
"Making Memories of Us" (Keith Urban)
"Innuendo" (Queen)
"What a Wonderful World" (Louis Armstrong) - Bottom 2 04/19/06
"Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" (Bryan Adams) - Top 2 4/26/06
"Renegade" (Styx)
"I Dare You" (Shinedown)
"Suspicious Minds" (Elvis Presley) -
"A Little Less Conversation" (Elvis Presley)

- Eliminated 05/10/06

Paris Bennett
Paris Ana'is Bennett is the granddaughter of Grammy Award winner Ann Nesby, and sang "Cowboy Take Me Away" by The Dixie Chicks at her original audition in Greensboro. She is from Fayetteville, Georgia. Her mother and grandmother are apart of the Grammy-winning group, Sounds of Blackness.

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"Midnight Train to Georgia" (Gladys Knight)
"Wind Beneath My Wings" (Bette Midler)
"Conga" (Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine)
"All I Do" (Stevie Wonder)
"Fever" (Peggy Lee)
"Work It Out" (Beyoncé)
"How Do I Live" (LeAnn Rimes) - Bottom 3 04/05/06
"The Show Must Go On" (Queen)
"These Foolish Things" (Billie Holiday) - Bottom 3 04/19/06
"The Way We Were" (Barbra Streisand)- Bottom 2 04/26/06
"Kiss" (Prince and The Revolution) -
"Be Without You" (Mary J. Blige)
- Eliminated 05/03/2006

Kellie Pickler
Kellie Dawn Pickler is from Albemarle, North Carolina, but was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was profiled as a roller-skating waitress. Her mother left when she was two and her father has had numerous legal problems; he is now free. Pickler lived with her grandfather and originally auditioned in Greensboro. She was never in the bottom three until she was eliminated.

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"How Far" (Martina McBride)
"Something to Talk About" (Bonnie Raitt)
"I'm the Only One" (Melissa Etheridge)
"Blame It on the Sun" (Stevie Wonder)
"Walkin' After Midnight" (Patsy Cline)
"Suds in the Bucket" (Sara Evans)
"Fancy" (Reba McEntire)
"Bohemian Rhapsody" (Queen)
"Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" (Ella Fitzgerald)
"Unchained Melody" (The Righteous Brothers)
- Eliminated 04/26/06

Ace Young
Brett Asa "Ace" Young (who goes by his middle name) is from Denver, and he auditioned there as well. At that time, Randy Jackson called him one of the best he'd seen so far this season. After he sang "Father Figure", Simon Cowell said that Young had the 'X-Factor' (a reference to another RTL talent show, in the UK). Young had been singing since age nine and had voice lessons.

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"Father Figure" (George Michael)
"If You're Not the One" (Daniel Bedingfield)
"Butterflies" (Michael Jackson)
"Do I Do" (Stevie Wonder) - Bottom 3 03/15/06
"In the Still of the Night" (The Five Satins)
"Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)" (Train) - Bottom 3 03/29/06
"Tonight I Wanna Cry" (Keith Urban)
"We Will Rock You" (Queen) - Bottom 3 04/12/06
"That's All" (Nat King Cole)
- Eliminated 04/19/06

Bucky Covington
William Joel "Bucky" Covington is from Rockingham, North Carolina. He auditioned in Greensboro. He has an identical twin brother named Rocky.

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"Simple Man" (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
"The Thunder Rolls" (Garth Brooks)
"Wave on Wave" (Pat Green)
"Superstition" (Stevie Wonder)
"Oh, Boy!" (Buddy Holly) - Bottom 2 03/22/06
"Real Good Man" (Tim McGraw)
"Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)" - (Vertical Horizon)
"Fat Bottomed Girls" (Queen)
- Eliminated 04/12/06

Mandisa (born Mandisa Lynn Hundley) is from Antioch, Tennessee. She had a successful original audition in Chicago, after which Simon Cowell made jokes about her size. He later apologized after being confronted by Miss Hundley. Like Pickler, she was never in the bottom 3 until her elimination.
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"Never" (Heart)
"Cry" (Faith Hill)
"I'm Every Woman" (Chaka Khan)
"Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing" (Stevie Wonder)
"I Don't Hurt Anymore" (Dinah Washington)
"Shackles (Praise You)" (Mary Mary)
"Any Man of Mine" (Shania Twain)
- Eliminated 04/05/06

Lisa Tucker
Lisa Gabrielle Tucker was 16 years old at the time of the show, and is the youngest finalist of this season. She is from Anaheim, California, and she auditioned in Denver. Simon Cowell called her the "best 16-year-old" ever to audition on the show at the time of her original Denver audition. She was also a runner-up on Star Search but lost to Tiffany Evans. A week after her elimination she appeared in an episode of The O.C.

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"I Am Changing" (Jennifer Holliday)
"Who's Lovin' You" (The Jackson 5)
"Here's Where I Stand" (Tiffany Taylor)
"Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" (Stevie Wonder) - Bottom 2 03/15/06
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" (Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers) - Bottom 3 03/22/06
"Because of You" (Kelly Clarkson)
- Eliminated 03/29/06

Kevin Covais
Kevin Patrick Covais was 16 years old at the time of the show, and is from Levittown, New York. For his audition in Boston, he sang "You Raise Me Up". Viewers gave him the nickname "Chicken Little."

"One Last Cry" (Brian McKnight)
"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" (Marvin Gaye) - Bottom 3 03/02/06
"Vincent" (Don McLean)
"Part-Time Lover" (Stevie Wonder)
"When I Fall in Love" (Nat King Cole)
- Eliminated 03/22/06

Melissa McGhee

Melissa Christine McGhee is from Tampa, Florida. She auditioned in Denver. She sang "Can't Fight the Moonlight" by LeAnn Rimes for her audition. She had not sung on camera until her first week in the top 24.

"When the Lights Go Down" (Faith Hill)
"Why Haven't I Heard from You" (Reba McEntire)
"What About Love" (Heart)
"Lately" (Stevie Wonder)
- Eliminated 03/15/06

Taylor Hicks on American Idol Extra 2009
April 30, 2009



TOP 12 Stevie Wonder Night

Season 5's Top 12 finalists meet Stevie Wonder and perform his songs. Included: backstage song swaps; Kellie Pickler's confidence problem; and Chris Daughtry's bold song rearrangement.
Living for the City


Season 5 Photo scrapbook

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DOWNLOAD from Media Board

really good quality.

credit to tosp1

The Group

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Two Taylor's are better than one:

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"Okay, that was good!"

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Woo! Livin' for the Ci...tay

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Is that the Dog Pound behind Taylor??

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Taylor expresses his thoughts and after thoughts:

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USA Today Idol Chatter comments:

Easy 'Living' for Taylor
March 14, 2006

"Taylor has a clear sense of his musical scope, once again evidenced by his shrewd choice of the, well, tailor-made testifying soul ditty, Living for the City. He tossed in enough of his patented 'heys,' spins and grimaces to put..."

November 14, 2009 REWIND: The Top 12 sing the songs of Stevie Wonder This is when Taylor sings . "Living for the City"

The MASTERCLASS LADY aka Rosanne Simunovic, is a singer, pianist and vocal coach who offers a unique and experienced take on the performances we watch. Her commentary on vocal technique may not be as succinct as Randy Jackson’s “that was a little pitchy, dawg” but her site is the place fans visit when they want to learn exactly why a singer blew them away or made them want to cover their ears. Masterclass Lady is a must-visit for any Idol fan wanting to experience the show on a deeper level.

Taylor Hicks: “Living For the City ”

"Strengths: Taylor -the applause and the cheering at the end of your number said it all, didn’t it? Performers like you make my job so difficult because you incorporate so much energy into a 90- second performance that it is truly hard to evaluate every detail. I was just having too much fun watching you. Who cares if you gyrate too much when you sing? It defines who you are as an artist. Yes – sometimes the movements can be a touch crazy, but, in my opinion, it is all part of the Taylor-made package.

"Taylor, you have embedded so much musical passion into your artistic soul and you truly love the art of making music. It is really remarkable to watch the metamorphosis when you begin to sing. . You come alive. It is almost like magic really. In fact, I was chuckling at how serious you looked when you walked on the stage and then – presto – the music began and it was a whole new man on that Idol stage.

"Additionally, you truly know how to entertain and please your audience. Singing is fun, right? Or so it should be. And you make sure that it definitely is.

"Vocally, your voice is solid. However, with proper training you can augment an already beautiful and soulful tenor voice. This was, for me, the performance of the night. Congratulations and bravo,Taylor!
Critique: Taylor – I would like to see you implement some bel canto technique in the production of your voice. Presently, it lacks an inherent sustaining quality throughout your range and, as a result, your voice is not as resonant or as pure as is possible. I hope that, in addition to working on the performing aspects of your songs, you begin to concentrate your efforts on your overall vocal production. For instance, you have been singing mainly up-tempo songs. Are you rehearsing them at a snail’s pace? The slower pace would allow you to evaluate your voice and identify the areas of tension that need to be addressed. In addition, it would process the valuable sustaining element that is necessary to achieve an even and cohesive vocal sound.

"Finally, I don’t know about anyone else, but I would be curious to your ability to sing a slow and sustained ballad. I have a feeling this is in the works – just trying to second- guess how your mind is working. And, if not, then you must consider this or you may run the risk of being too one-dimensional and you are anything but, Taylor. Great Top 12 debut!"

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Season 5 Top 11" November 21, 2009 REWIND: The Top 11 sing songs from the 1950s

courtesy of Gypsee

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Taylor sings " Not Fade Away" by the Cricketts


I think I'll sing "Not Fade Away" ...
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Gray suit is a nice touch; white shoes...?
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Barry said to do whatever it takes. I think I'll do my special dance moves for the crowd tonight
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Hey, I've done this with Jeff Lopez many times, let's see how it goes on AI.
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Paula and Randy loved it : Posted Image

Simon thought I was strange, but I got the last laugh . Posted Image

Here is a download for one with the scroll, which is much better quality.

Here is a download without the scroll..lesser quality but not as

The Master class Lady again reviews a Taylor performance

Master Class Lady

Taylor Hicks: “Not Fade Away” originally performed by Buddy Holly

Strengths: Taylor –Barry Manilow hit the nail right on the head when he called you a whisky tenor! It truly describes the distinct tenor quality of your voice. In fact, I found a great definition of a whisky tenor on the internet in an article about Rod Stewart. In the article, it defines this rare tenor voice as a unique combination of manly toughness with aching emotional pain and sexuality. Woah – that is pretty heady stuff and it applies to our Taylor? Who knew all these deep emotions were hidden underneath all the fun and enthusiasm that so exemplifies Taylor Hicks.

At any rate, I digress. Taylor, as always, you entertained to the max this week. It was so clear that you respected and agreed with Barry Manilow’s creed that it is integral that a singer master the art of performance to really succeed in this business. You sang with passion and infectious enthusiasm and, although the song was not the most challenging of the evening, it spoke to who you are as an artist and performer. You had the audience eating out of the palm of your hand. Bravo!

You have the most innovative and novel stage moves I have ever seen on any stage. I would be curious to know if you implement them “on the fly” during a live performance or if you rehearse them prior to the live show. Something tells me that a switch turns on full force when you hit the stage – an almost unstoppable musical force takes hold of your body and you cannot help but share it all with the audience. Whatever it is, I love it, so never change.

Also, your voice actually had more clarity and focus this week. For instance, I noticed that you were sustaining the pure “eh” vowel in the word “fade”, avoiding the ugly diphthong that can muddy up a vocal sound. Good for you. You are starting to get the right, bel canto idea and how you can apply it to your particular style of singing.

Yes, Taylor, This was another great performance. Congratulations!

Critique: Taylor – I am concerned that we are seeing only one side to your vocal talent. As I said last week, you must begin to vary the song selections from week to week. We have yet to hear you sing a ballad and, therefore, we have not yet discovered the artistic depth of your whisky tenor soul. A slower, more poignant song selection would allow you to display another dimension to your artistry and, as well, challenge your vocal abilities.

Presently, your voice suffers from a lack of technical security and a slower ballad would allow you to showcase your vocal talent and encourage you to sing with the proper technique. Presently, the sustaining element in your vocal production is very limited and, when you sing up-tempo numbers, this problem is further accentuated because of the faster pace.

Additionally, even though you are a great dancer, you must remember that the vocal and choreographic elements have to be perfectly balanced. The late Sammy Davis Jr. had this down to a fine art – when he sang and danced on stage, both disciplines were performed to perfection. His voice was a viable presence while his feet were flying around the stage. He is a great role model for you, Taylor. In fact Sammy Davis performed a great song from “Sweet Charity” called “The Rhythmn Of Life” – you should research it. It would be the perfect song for you. It screams Taylor Hicks!

Hope all this helps. Look forward to seeing you next week!

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Here is the download for the Rewind TOP 10 : Taylor sings "Trouble" Thanks to Gypsee for the download

The Original performance by Taylor

The Rewind of Taylor

Hi Def Avi With Scroll:

Good Quality Minus Scroll WMV:

The Masterclass Lady gives her opinion of Taylor singing "Trouble"

Taylor Hicks: “Trouble ” originally performed by Ray LaMontagne

Strengths: Taylor –I know I am in the presence of a great artist when I can thoroughly enjoy a song that is totally unfamiliar to me. It was all about the singing and. Taylor, this week we heard the power of your soulful vocals. Finally, you gifted us with a slow and passionate ballad that accentuated your superior vocal gifts.

Additionally, you communicated this song with superb respect for the emotional core of the lyrics. My first impression was that, like Paula, I was totally enjoying the fact that you were glued to the microphone stand, encouraging you to touch and move us with your inherent vocal artistry and creativity as opposed to the “ tayloresque” dance moves that we have been enjoying from week to week. It was all about the vocals and indeed you delivered as promised.

The slower pace of the song encouraged you to sustain your pure vowels in a very consistent manner, as evidenced when you vocalized the word “Trouble”. Because of this, your voice enjoyed a rich, more radiating presence throughout this song, allowing the melodic line to be highlighted through the cohesive pure vowel placement in your vocal masque

Additionally, your phrasing was wonderfully musical and your sustained a forward momentum that is so important in really musical and technically secure singing. Yet, every once in a while, your distinct whisky tenor voice was a welcome introduction in this song, emphasizing the tormented and angst nature of this song selection. It was a wonderful blend of rustic and classical vocals that really identified you as a unique artist, Taylor.

As always, you were committed to your audience and this commitment resulted in a stellar and meaningful performance that touched and moved your listeners. Your soul was totally exposed when you sang, Taylor, and the music flowed from your heart. This is not something that can be taught; this is an inherent characteristic that identifies a great performer. And, yes, Taylor, you fall into this unique category. You are taking us on some wild ride and we are all the better for it! Kudos and bravo my man!

Critique: Taylor – like Paris, I found nothing to improve on your performance. You finally gifted us with a soulful, vocally resonant ballad and this vocal suggestion was saturating my critique of you from week to week. However, after this week’s showcase, you showed us that you are indeed a very fine vocalist and I am very certain that, as long as you maintain the ever important pure vowel sustaining element in your up-tempo songs, we will continue to be excited by your distinctive and soothing vocal presence. Congratulations Taylor. This was one of the top performances of the week.
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Rosanne Simunovic is the Voice Instructor and Conductor for the. If you have any further questions our comments, please at e-mail her. If you want to hear how she applies her technical methods to a variety of musical styles music, have a listen to one of her double disc CDs, Scenes from a Dream, a live compilation featuring outstanding performances between 1984-2000 with the Timmins Youth Singers and renowned classical, Broadway, and pop artists. Enjoy!

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From the IdolChatter Archives : USA Today 2006


Face it, Taylor Hicks is a bit of a goofball. He's in the top 12 mainly on personality, but unlike so many past contestants, his is a truly likable, if highly spasmodic, personality. And he can sing. Not as well as Chris Daughtry, Elliott Yamin, Ace Young or most of the women, but he works that old-time soul vein adeptly. (Though in his more intensely Joe Cockeresque moments, it seems that vein might just burst.) As with Chris, it will be interesting to see how he handles songs outside his wheelhouse. But for now, he's my favorite dark horse.


Taylor has a clear sense of his musical scope, once again evidenced by his shrewd choice of the, well, tailor-made testifying soul ditty Living for the City. He tossed in enough of his patented "heys," spins and grimaces to put his quirky stamp on the song. He should have no problem sailing through to the next round.

THE 50'S

Pretty well loved by now, he's no longer the eccentric wild card but a true contender. And again, the right song from the '50s could suit his vocal style. I like the Little Richard, Ray Charles and Chuck Berry suggestions that have come in.


The second Buddy Holly song of the night, Not Fade Away (a non-hit at the time made more famous later by the Rolling Stones), came courtesy of the always-natty Mr. Hicks. It was a bit fussily funked up, but an entertaining rendition. The big ending suggested by Manilow was as useful as wings on a snail, but all in all, it was likable enough.

I was worried about Taylor's range of possibilities in 21st century music, but he came up with a cool choice: singer/songwriter Ray Lamontagne's Trouble, a perfect deep-soul number for the modern era. Bonus: Taylor gave us his most restrained, sensitive performance yet. I'm impressed



Idol Contestants Continue Journey

You sing, you shine and for a brief moment you're the most talented person in the room. But on American Idol, that feeling doesn't last very long. Just ask Ace Young and Taylor Hicks. The Season 5 contestants are currently reliving their journey on American Idol Rewind, and it's brought back some memories – good and bad.

"My rude awakening was when we all got to our seats in Hollywood, and everybody started singing the "Rent" song ("Seasons of Love"). I realized that there were 250 of some of the best singers that I've ever heard in my whole life," says Hicks, who ultimately led the Soul Patrol to Idol victory in 2006. "It was one of the most fascinating six months that I'll ever have in my whole life. I won! I can't believe it," he laughs.

With the current season's auditions behind us, viewers are getting ready to see 181 contestants try to stand out during Hollywood Week, the stage in the competition that exists only for singers to choke. And based on eight previous seasons, Hollywood Week also seems to be an invitation for great singers to be remembered for all the wrong reasons. "On my season, we enjoyed the crazy people until you had to hang out with them," says Ace Young. "There was a guy in Hollywood week that jumped the stage, landed on the judges' panel, jumped back down and got back on the stage, and rolled around like a dog trying to get a bug off of him. He made the show and that's all he wanted."

For those singers who want to make it beyond the first few weeks, Young and Hicks offer some practical advice. "All of the songs that I did on the show, the last 30 seconds I wrote musically, because an ending is important," says Hicks. "I've learned that, singing in bars. You might have played the song terribly, but if you have a big ending, people might stand up and clap."

Adds Young. "Be prepared to work. There are 200 people just like you, and they're getting cut from day one," he says. "Don't play with the other people. Don't stay up and be a child. You've got to look at it like work. Realize your whole family is expecting that from you."

And according to Young, for those who make the Top 24 the journey is just about to begin. "That's why we watch the show, because somebody's life will change."

American Idol Rewind is nationally syndicated. Please check local listings.

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supersarav at the West Virginia Tour Stop.

THE TOP 9 with Kenny Rogers as the mentor.

Taylor sings "Country Roads"

The Idols would be coached through the unfamiliar and treacherous shoals of country music by Kenny Rogers.

USA Today, Idol Chatter noted, "Taylor didn't help by singing the sickly-sweet John Denver song Take Me Home, Country Roads. Song choice, people. By far his worst, most colorless performance, and he sounded dangerously off in his higher register at the end."

Taylor Hicks: “Take Me Home Country Roads”

Written by masterclasslady

April 6, 2006 at 4:16 pm

Strengths: Taylor –it was great to see you looking relaxed and comfortable behind the microphone. Once again we were able to focus on your gently unique vocals and this performing position also encouraged you to technically enhance your vocal sound. Your mouth was continuously circular on the pure vowels, as you worked hard to avoid the pitfalls of those nasty country diphthongs.

You added some wonderfully intuitive melodic variations in this country classic. This is so important when you sing any cover song, but never more so than in the performance of country music. The repetitive nature of its natural folk music quality demands a musical and creative approach from the singer. If not, the song begins to sound mundane and ordinary. It is all about the communication and Taylor, as always, you have a warm open presence when you perform, allowing the listener to enjoy and feel your music.

I loved hearing the fabulous mix of your pure lyrical vocals and your rustic vocal sound. These nuances added nice variation to the melodic and lyrical delivery of this number. Great work, Taylor!

Critique: Okay Taylor, who made you sing this song? Every week, I always felt that you were totally committed to the emotional essence of your song selections. However, this week, your body language was sending out different vibes. This song certainly didn’t speak to your superior level of artistry.

Is this the same Taylor who selected last week’s song, “Trouble?” I can’t believe that you went from such a soulfully intricate song like Trouble to such a one- dimensional mundane song selection as Country Roads?

There was a visual and auditory disconnect in segments of your performance this week, Taylor. Additionally, your voice lacked your customary intensity and focus. Yes, the vowels were pure and the face was open and expressive, but the diaphragmatic support was almost non-existent. Additionally, this lack of support accentuated a nasal tone in your voice that was never an issue in previous weeks.

Additionally, as much as we could appreciate your vocals this week, Taylor, you needed to move away from the microphone and work the stage. This is not a song that can be delivered while being glued to the mike. Perhaps you were frustrated as well. You use your body well when you sing and I could see that those feet were itching to do some stage traveling. (chuckle)

Also, I feel that, perhaps, the key of the song was a tone too high. The melodic line was not sitting correctly in your vocal register. Be very careful of key selection. Do not select songs that sit too high in your register, therefore not allowing you to display the depth and beauty of your mid and lower range. Your vocal quality in your high register is very light and, because the melodic line hovered continuously in this area of your voice, your overall vocal sound was very thin.

Finally, as this was an up-tempo song, you must practice your up-tempo songs slowly – like vocal yoga –making certain that the sustaining pure vowel element is being supported through proper diaphragmatic breathing technique. Generally, I felt that the overall arrangement of this song was very rushed. It was as if an ambulance was on its way to take you home via the country roads. The tempo of the background music didn’t allow you to breathe effectively and we were left with a hurried and frantic performance. I know this is a 60- minute show, but still…

So, let’s jump back on the horse, Taylor and knock some Queen out of the ballpark next week! Good luck!
P.S. I didn’t like this song either (chuckle) and I missed the dancing!

Redemption :

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Fiddlin' Jim adds his touch to the song

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Taylor says, " I liked it" or "Thank goodness that is over"

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TOP 8 Queen Medley windies82

USA Today Idol Chatter
Taylor goes "Crazy"
I was expecting Crazy Little Thing Called Love to be fine, and it was. For dramatic dance moves, Taylor didn't equal Kellie but he sang with some fire, which he desperately needed to do after sleepwalking through John Denver-land last week. Goofy but fun.


Taylor Hicks: “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”

Strengths: Taylor –when I first heard that you were performing this song, I had a slight misgiving about your song selection, not because it wasn’t suited to your voice; on the contrary, I think it is a really great match. What concerned me was the over-exposure this song has endured on numerous Idol shows, so I was worried that this would attract a less than enthusiastic viewer response.

However, that was before I heard this week’s Taylor-made, version of this great Queen classic. Talk about your molding a song to suit your own style! Finally, after a couple of weeks, the Idol fans were once again gifted with the authentic Taylor Hicks and not a moment too soon. I don’t blame you for kicking that microphone stand out of the way; it was an impediment to your uniquely exciting singing style. You were finally released from the mike stand confinement and what a difference it made in your performance.

At the outset of this song, I could feel the “Elvis” vibe that has created such a buzz throughout the message boards and the media. You were definitely channeling some “Elvis”, but as the song moved along, it was all about Taylor the artist. You came with one mission to accomplish – to entertain your legions of fans – and your love and passion for the art of music was exemplary. You are in this business for all the right reasons!

I loved everything about your stage choreography, from the double kick of the microphone stand, to the rhythmic up and down movement on the stage steps, to the interaction with the audience as you moved onto the secondary stage in the audience. It was an animated, buoyant and dynamic showcase that truly celebrated all that is wonderful about exciting live performances.

Vocally, your voice enjoyed a renewed sense of energy, simply because you were no longer restrained to one position on the stage. Your whiskey tenor voice beautifully embraced the melodic line and the lyrical content came alive with your soulful interpretive skills. I always have great respect for an artist who strives to bend or mold the original melodic line; it adds an element of originality and creativity to the overall performance of a song that has been covered by so many artists. Your unique, personal approach to this song performance was just outstanding, Taylor.

Also, you never pushed your voice to create a bigger sound – you allowed the vocal sound to evolve through your innate means of expression. I always tell my singers that many of the technical issues disappear if you immerse yourself into the soul and essence of the song’s emotional core. You have to live and breathe your song during a performance and no one does this better than you, Taylor.

Your profound love and respect for the art is extraordinary and you impart a professional approach to your song style each and every week. Your sense of fun and abandon on that Idol stage is contagious and your love for the art is inspiring. The joy of music! What a concept and you truly embrace and respect this concept each and every week on that Idol stage.

Bravo Taylor! This was just a gem of a performance!

Critique: I have very little to critique this week Taylor. I am just thrilled that you have been allowed to represent your distinct artistry. The stage is your home, not the microphone stand and you, as well as all the singers, must be allowed to explore this performance terrain. How else can you fully communicate an upbeat joyful song like Crazy Little thing Called Love? Not possible.

Now, what I would like to hear from you is more of that gorgeous sustained vocal sound that I enjoyed when you performed Trouble a couple of weeks ago. It would be great to discover a song that would address both sides of your artistic personality: the vocalist AND the performer. Also, it would be additionally beneficial to find a number that would highlight other areas of your vocal range, more specifically, the mid and lower range. I suspect that next week’s music will be very conducive to this.

Congratulations on a spectacular showcase this week, Taylor! Bravo!

Download Link: Thanks again to Gypsee

This was the week that Taylor was to have sung WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS , but had to change to CRAZY LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE.........


Talking it over with Andrea and David
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The infamous mike debacle
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Summing up the experience
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Chart topper Rod Stewart was this weeks mentor

The Masterclass Lady comments on Taylor:
Taylor Hicks: “You Send Me”

Strengths: Taylor –you are the bomb. You are like a musical magician, pulling all sorts of vocal surprises out of your magic hat, or in this case, your magic vocal cords. You started this inspired song selection with perfect style. You captured your audience – and in particular the Soul Patrol – in the palm of your hand as you casually glided across the stage romancing your listeners with your bluesy, soulful lyrics. You were quite the charismatic spectacle, Taylor, and I can’t remember seeing such a phenomenal look of joy on your face during a performance.

Or was it a mischievous look, a teaser of what was yet to come at the finale of this song? It didn’t matter, because the whole ambiance of your performance was a first rate, entertaining, tour de force. You exuded a confident and truly authentic demeanor throughout this song and you truly embraced your audience with the repetitive lyrics.

When confronted with repetition in the lyrical content, a singer has to really make certain that he or she is using this cyclic element as a means of vocal emphasis, otherwise the words will begin to sound mundane and senseless. Well you, Taylor, took the bull by the horns and used this opportunity to vocally address different areas of your live audience and, in a couple of instances your television audience. Smart guy! It also afforded you time to pace yourself and conserve your energy for the vibrant, Taylorized finale.

And what a finale that was. You know what your fans want and you gave them all that and more.

Also, Taylor, I have to say a resounding thank you! In last week’s evaluation, I encouraged you to find a song that would highlight the strength and beauty of your entire vocal range, while at the same time allowing you to be a free spirit on the stage, incorporating your distinct stage choreography with stellar vocals. The style and substance thing I keep harping on about! Well, this week you made it happen, Taylor, and now I am a happy camper here at my computer. Your vocals were beautifully sustained, wonderfully resonant and energized through the usage of the correct technical channels. You were really applying a cohesive approach to those pure vowels and your vocal timbre had a richer, robust quality than in previous weeks. Additionally, I loved the intermittent inclusion of your rustic vocals into this soulful number; it contrasted beautifully with the purer vocal timbre and highlighted your ability to add nuance and inflection in your singing voice.

In closing, I would like to add that you are one of the most generous musicians I have ever encountered in a live performance. The only other singer that I think of when I see you perform is retro superstar Michael Buble. Both of you have such an appreciation, respect and passion for the music – and for your fans. It is what separates you from the rest of the pack and will ensure continued success in the music industry.

Bravo Taylor and Whoo Hoo to you and the Soul Patrollers!

Critique: Taylor – just make certain that you are incorporating the correct technique when you sing in your more energized sections of your songs. I feel that you are, however, I do worry that some of the important technical elements may have been forgotten as you shimmied and vibrated towards the grand finale of this number. I don’t think there was a huge misplacement of technique, but, naturally, with all the energy you exerted, it is difficult to balance all the performing elements with the technical elements.

In rehearsal, make certain that you are practicing your vocals separate from your dancing, thus ensuring that your full attention is on the singing aspect of the performance. This way you will ensure that all the technical essentials (the sustaining element, proper diaphragmatic breathing, and proper vocal placement) are in place.

Also, it seemed that you exceeded your estimation of the final refrain of the musical accompaniment and your concluding ad lib vocals didn’t match what was happening in the orchestration. Make certain that you judiciously practice the rhythmic components of your ad lib sections, so these spontaneous Taylorized vocalizations are seamless and match what is happening in the background accompaniment.

However, this was such a monumentally successful performance, Taylor. I cannot wait until Andrea Bocelli weaves his magic on you. You, along with your Top 6 colleagues, are going to kick some serious bel canto butt next week. It’s going to be a long seven days for me!

Congratulations once again, on a spectacular showcase this week, Taylor! Bravo!

USA Today Idol Chatter

Taylor doesn't quite 'Send' me

Taylor stretched the definition of standards a little, although in a good way -- I think the Sam Cooke songbook more than deserves to rank with the Tin Pan Alley classics of yesteryear. But it gave Taylor a leg up, because it's much more soul-oriented than the average cocktail-lounge standard.

Unfortunately, he raced through it a bit, minimizing the soulful factor, and the improvised ending was way over the top. Though there were a couple of good moments, restraint would have improved it. Overall, it could have been a lot better.

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Taylor's Part

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The Masterclass Lady chimes in with her usual words of praise and criticism.

Strengths: Taylor –even though this wasn’t your first song choice, I have to say that you performed this song extremely well. You had – what – less than 48 hours to learn this number? Incredible! And I suspected from the very minute that you opened your mouth to sing that this was not your song of choice. I think everyone is able to read you now, Taylor, and we know which songs turn your crank and which don’t. However, to your credit, you maintained an extremely professional demeanor throughout this performance

Actually, I like this song, as did David Foster and Andrea Bocelli. The composing elements have a soulful vibe that spoke well to your particular style of singing. I think, if given the appropriate amount of time, you would have truly knocked this song out of the ballpark. That being said, you still hit a vocal home run in so many ways. How many? Well, let us count the ways, shall we?

First of all, you approached the song in your usual inventive manner and taylorized the song to fit your uniquely soulful voice. You were not a James Ingram clone, even though I love his singing very much. You had a creative approach to your vocal delivery that enabled you to perform this or any song with a distinct and unique style, totally different than what is the norm. This is of monumental importance, as you distance your vocal style from the millions of karaoke singers in this world.

Additionally, you communicated the heart -warming essence of the song just beautifully. Your camera technique was excellent and we were left with a genuine and authentic vocal delivery. Your have innate expressive qualities, Taylor, that cannot be taught or explained. Call it charisma, call it sincerity, call it musicality and artistry, and call it anything you want. It is just there-an intangible force.

I also appreciated the melodic variations that you implemented throughout this performance, another testament to your instinctive artistry. As always, I loved your distinctive blend of pure and rustic vocals; this is how you add inflection to your singing style. A little dose of that fantastic whiskey tenor voice added the appropriate emphasis and dynamic variation to the lyrical and melodic composition. Your voice told the story. It is a heart -rending love song and we heard the angst and passion in your voice, Taylor.

Finally, your voice, particularly during your more passionate sections of the song, sounded richly focused and technically enhanced. Your mouth maintained a consistent circular formation, as you adhered your vocal sound to the pure vowels within your lyrics. This was another excellent showcase for you, Taylor! Kudos to you! And always remember, the Soul Patrol always has your back. Not to worry!

Critique: Taylor – when I first heard you were doing this song, I was very happy. As I said above, I love this number very much. However, I could not believe this was your first choice and now we know it was not. I think you and a few other singers were railroaded once again because of clearance issues aka American Idol issues. It was clearly evident that you were not a happy camper singing this song, so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the reason.

And then you were glued to the mike stand once again. I thought we were finished with your love affair with the mike stand. Who made you stand there, Taylor? Give me names. Perhaps they don’t understand that Taylor Hicks behind a microphone is not what the viewers are tuning in to see. They want to see an energetic, beaming, vigorous performance that only you and you alone can give Taylor.

Actually, at one point in the song, just before the key change, I thought that you were going to surprise us once again. I envisioned you releasing the mike from the stand and moving forward on stage to deliver an impassioned and soulful end to the song. It didn’t happen, unfortunately, but it would have definitely solidified a stronger end to the song. However, your soulful and pitch perfect melisma (scale like passage) was an excellent substitute nonetheless.

Additionally, Taylor, make certain that you access your diaphragmatic support when you sing your quieter passages. Like some of the other singers this week, you allowed your voice to be less resonant and vibrant when singing the quieter sections of the song, indicating that the diaphragmatic muscles were not enabling the correct resonation of the vocal sound.

You have to maintain a whispered intensity when you sing softly and, additionally, not allow your enunciation to falter. In fact, practice whispering your softer passages, drawing your attention to the crispness of your consonants, while at the same time sustaining your speaking voice on the pure vowels. Actors have to solidify this technique so that their voices can carry at every level of intensity. The same is true for singers.

In closing, I hope the judges will keep a lid on their hypocrisy throughout the short remainder of this competition. First they wanted you to make your vocals shine and avoid excessive dancing. Then when you followed through on this, they thought the performance was boring. It seems they don’t know what they want, so next week, show them what you – and your audience –wants and bring it!

See you next week Taylor. Continue to keep it real! Bravo once again

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Some more from the Top 6

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credit to AliceinTaylorland

From Idol Chatter USA Today
May 2, 2006

'Something' 'Funky' from Taylor: a mixed bag

Year of birth song: Wild Cherry's 1976 hit, Play That Funky Music, is certainly Taylor-made, and he got to show off his usual moves and then some. But face facts, there are few songs in the history of popular music that rival Funky for sheer, crass stupidity. It was impossible to take this performance seriously, so he'll have to hope people take it as fun. Also, all things considered, not the kind of thing we really want from our Idols.

Current hit: Taylor cleverly found a way to do two oldies by picking a Beatles song from the Billboard catalog/reissues chart. Something was a good contrast to the histrionics of Play That Funky Music, and it gave Taylor a chance to pull his Joe Cocker mannerisms out of his box of tricks. Actually, though, he showed a lot more restraint than Cocker did, a wise idea, as shown by the wavering pitch he displayed when he tried to go all Cockeresque at the end. That provided a shaky moment, but all in all it was a plus for Taylor.

Masterclass Lady

It’s the Top 5 showcase and, unlike previous weeks, the singers were required to utilize their own artistic resources in the selection and interpretation of their songs. No guest artists, no guest vocal coaches, no specific themes or genres! This week, the Top 5 were able to select two songs each, the first reflecting a song released during their birth year and the second reflecting a song that is currently gracing the Top 100 Billboard Charts.

So, with two opportunities to showcase their vocal and creative skills, I expected the singers to select songs that highlighted their distinctive style and musicality. And, generally, they delivered as expected extremely well, I thought! I won’t waste valuable word space in this Masterclass header. With two songs to evaluate this week, I will save my brain power and finger strength for the individual adjudication of the Top 5 singers. So, let the Top 5 showdown begin!

Taylor Hicks: “Play that Funky Music” (Wild Cherry) and “Something”(Beatles/George Harrison)

Strengths: Taylor –talk about choosing songs from opposite sides of the genre spectrum. Now, attention everybody and “listen up”! This is how you program your music and keep it real and interesting. Taylor, your song selections this week defined who you are as an artist. Your musical vibe is assuredly blues and soul; however, this week’s performances confirmed that you are extremely capable of incorporating your distinct soulful sound into any song from any genre.

The result was an innovative and new cover of a familiar classic such as Something. We are so accustomed to hearing the Beatles version. The original version is a gem; however, your take on this song was absolutely refreshing. The Beatles were responsible for introducing classical components into the rock genre and their innovative composing method paved the way for the numerous composers who followed in their footsteps. However, Taylor, you added a soulful sound to this song, while still maintaining the classical elements in the melodic and harmonic structure. It was absolutely beautiful.

Technically, I think this was your best performance. The musical elements are always present in each one of your performances, but, this week, your voice sounded absolutely radiant and energized throughout both numbers. However, it was your Something performance that afforded the listener opportunity to hear the depth and beauty of your vocal talent. And the sincerity and sensitivity was so palpable, it resonated long after the performance ended.

It was interesting to see you look so “in the moment” of this heart- rending song after you completed your performance and you were awaiting the judges’ critique. It was obvious that you had deeply internalized the song lyrics and the emotion of the song was still part of your essence long after the music stopped. It was quite a revealing picture – and yet startling at the same time, as we are all so accustomed to that ubiquitous “taylorized” smile after each performance. It almost seemed to me like you were thinking, “Analyze this, judges! Don’t mess with this song!” Well, that’s what I was thinking nonetheless!

Your Play That Funky Music number was an inspired song choice as well. The stage exploded when you began this number. Taylor Hicks doesn’t need fancy lighting and fireworks. It comes prepackaged with the man! How could anyone not like this song? It was a tour de force, a soulful masterpiece that left no artistic stone unturned. You should be teaching a Masterclass in Performance Arts, Taylor, because this is how it’s done.

And no one listens to the Three Stooges aka the “judges” anymore, so they can pout and mope ‘til the cows come home because nobody cares what they think. However, their tiresome comments are better than chamomile tea at night, so that’s a good thing I guess!

Also, during “Funky Music, I once again loved the mixture of rustic versus pure vocals. You use your gravelly voice wisely and judiciously. You are obviously grounding your vocal sound through the correct diaphragmatic technical process. If the opposite were true, your voice would have sounded breathy and unfocused and this was definitely not the case.

Your voice was a viable living presence on stage and your spirit was contagious and positively infectious. I rarely see a performer who loves the stage and their audience more than you. As I said last week, the only other current performer that comes to mind is the great Michael Buble, so you are in great company.

What more can I say, Taylor! You were just superb. From the song selections to every element in your vocal performance, your brilliance and positive spirit remains unparalleled in this competition. Bravo and congratulations for two memorable performances Taylor!


Critique: Taylor –there is little if anything to critique in this performance. Your dual showcase was virtually flawless. Your vocal and choreographic elements were meticulously rehearsed and I always felt that you were in total control of every aspect of your performances this week. What you have brought to the Idol stage this season is nothing short of inspiring and I know that, regardless of the outcome, you are destined for greatness beyond the confines of American Idol.

Kudos and bravissimo!


Elimination of Paris Bennett video:

Here is the DOWNLOAD for THE TOP 5 ( courtesy of Gypsee )

Some Screen caps from Gypsee:

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From IN THE GHETTO: To JAILHOUSE ROCK: Taylor brought down the house and OBG brought us this wonderful video to make screen caps.

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That's what friends are for:

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OBG watched the show and sent these pics .

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American Idol’s Last Four Finalists

American Idol is getting stronger and this season has got to its most serious part. There are only four contestants left trying to achieve a goal that will change their lives. Fame and money will come along with the chance of developing what they like to do most: singing. The fifth season of American Idol began on January 17th, 2006.

Auditions for this season took place in Boston, Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver, Greensboro, North Carolina and Las Vegas. Memphis auditions were cancelled due to Hurricane Katrina. 12 men and 12 women were selected as semi-finalists. American Idol’s fifth season has been noted for the diversity among its participants.

At the beginning, the favorite picks to become the new American Idol were: Paris Bennett, Kellie Pickler, Taylor Hicks, Chris Daughtry, Katharine McPhee and Mandisa Hundley. But at the end there are four contestants: Chris Daughtry, Taylor Hicks, Katharine McPhee and Elliott Yamin.

Chris Daughtry is an intense and charismatic rocker.

Taylor Hicks, the gray-haired who knows how to entertain the audience has a very strong talent.

Katharine McPhee, the only girl left in the American Idol’s contest. Besides her ability to sing and stage presence she has her look on her side.

Elliott Yamin has a soft voice and a good personality. Plus, one of the judges: Paula Abdul said he was most consistent than any of the finalists.

Some analysts believe Katherine McPhee will be the first one to leave the foursome and then Elliot Yamin even though he has a refreshing personality and a smooth voice he has been victim of a bad selection of songs. And there would be just Chris Daughtry and Elliot Yamin running towards becoming the next American Idol. Tonight’s decision will depend on Elvis Presley’s songs, since they have a different style every week. The American Idol contestants have performed songs with themes like: 1950’s, the Billboard charts, country, Queen, The Great American Songbook, Stevie Wonder, Classic Love Songs and the 21st century.

Elvis Medley lphillips33

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Elliott Yamin and the Three Pips
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MasterClass Lady


This week, our illustrious Top 4 American Idol finalists celebrated the music of the King himself, Elvis Presley. Has there ever been a more celebrated and revered icon in the history of pop music? Almost 30 years have gone by since Elvis’ death and the tributes keep on coming in – from the thousands upon thousands who visit Graceland each year, to the Elvis impersonators who continue to evolve through each generation of singers and, now, to the ongoing musical collaboration with American Idol.

The singers were impressively coached in Graceland in the illustrious company of record producer Tommy Mottola and, for the sixth time this season, the singers were able to extract musical expertise through the inclusion of yet another legendary musical legend. The big question that concerned me was this: which of these singers would be successful in interpreting Elvis’ music with a distinctively musical style? This was the challenge set forth by our Top 4 this week, as they prepared to honor one of the greatest musical innovators of the 20th century.

Also, many fans have asked for some clarification on the vocal terminology. I always aim to please, so click here and, hopefully, the technical veil will be lifted.

Taylor Hicks: “Jailhouse Rock” and “In The Ghetto”
Strengths: Taylor –this was your night without a doubt. Taylor performing Elvis? It doesn’t get much better than this. (Well, maybe Taylor performing Ray. I’m still waiting and waiting and waiting….). However, what I loved about your performances, Taylor, was your distinct interpretation of these stylistically diverse numbers. You have the artistic soul and the entertainment values that are identifiable with the legend of Elvis Presley and yet you have a specialized feel for Elvis’ music that is truly singular.

This is the reason why both of your numbers were so successful this week. Elvis was committed to entertaining the masses and this statement applies to your musical mission as well, Taylor. The stage just ignited when you opened the show with Jailhouse Rock. You were musical fire and brimstone and the flame never perished when you sensitively communicated the emotional core of In The Ghetto in the second half of the program.

I am glad that Tommy Mottola had the wisdom to move the key of the song, Jailhouse Rock up a semi-tone. In doing so, your vocals had more presence and the higher key energized the overall vocal and instrumental production of the song. A half tone key change can make such a difference in a singer’s performance. Additionally, the song was sitting more favorably in your natural whiskey tenor singing range and, therefore, you were able to vocally support the melodic line with ease.

There were so many wonderful moments in Jailhouse Rock. I loved the inclusion of the gyrating guitarist, another subtle Elvis touch to this very visual performance. You wove yourself through the audience in a believable and communicative fashion, physically including them in your musical ride, and, then, seamlessly transferred yourself to the main stage mid way through this song.

I was very impressed with the degree of vocal comfort you were maintaining throughout this very busy performance. This was such a rhythmically fluid number; it seemed almost effortless, but I expect a great deal of planning and thought went into this fantastic performance. You paced yourself extremely well, Taylor, and, as a result, you never lost control of this song. You reminded us why it is so important during these high -energy numbers to slow the performing process down in your mind; by doing so, you were ensuring that the technical and choreographical elements were perfectly balanced. Additionally, Taylor, your verbose text was expertly communicated; all the words were distinct and your phrasing was impeccable.

You included some innovative moves during this number – lots of twirling happening here. That was a lovely pirouette on stage, Taylor, (smile) and I guess you became friends with the mike stand, because you gave it a friendly twirl as well. Loved it!

Vocally, your voice was stellar and your voice exhibited a sustained, resonant presence throughout this number. The rhythmic energy and drive of this song encouraged you to access your support in a consistent and buoyant manner, therefore encouraging you to reveal a variety of vocal nuance and inflection throughout this song presentation.

Your second number, In The Ghetto gave you opportunity to highlight your dynamic range to even greater effect. I was taken aback by the beautiful, resplendent head tone midway through this song. The pitch was beautifully centered and the inclusion of this falsetto musically stamped this song in great “taylorized” fashion. This is what we have come to expect from you Taylor – the unexpected.

Your poignant and restrained performance of this song contrasted so beautifully with your first number and emphasized the depth and intensity of your artistry. You truly have the soul of an artist. Oftentimes, it is not only about the voice, but also about feeling the heart and soul of the music, digging beneath the layers of a song to expose areas of the composition that are less obvious to the average listener. This is what you do each week, Taylor, and this is why you have been so successful in this competition.

Bravo, kudos and high fives on an excellent showcase this week.

Critique: Taylor –vocally, for me, I thought you sounded technically secure during your first number, Jailhouse Rock. Your voice enjoyed a strong presence throughout this performance and the vocal issues were not apparent – until In The Ghetto. (And all the Soul Patrollers open their mouths in shock!). There’s nothing like a slow, sustained ballad to expose any inherent vocal difficulties that a singer is experiencing.

However, I have to call the shots as I hear them and I thought, for whatever reason – and I have many theories, – your voice sounded less resonant and more constricted than lastweek’s performance of Something. I sensed fatigue and almost a tentative approach at the start of the song. Perhaps you were a bit nervous interpreting one of your favorite songs. I know I would be. As soon as one says it is a personal favorite, high expectations fall on the shoulders of the singer and the ears of the listener.

Vocally, Taylor, you must remember to vocalize with the correct support, allowing your throat and facial features to remain open and free. This will encourage the diaphragmatic muscles to efficiently and consistently support and place your voice in your vocal masque. Also, that beautiful falsetto (head tone) that we heard midway through this song must be a permeating element throughout your vocal range. It will add depth and an inherent ringing quality to your entire vocal range.

Additionally, I think many of these problems could have been avoided by adjusting the key of this song. I would be interested to hear you sing this song in your baritone range, Taylor. When you perform this song again, try experimenting with a couple of lower keys. I think the lower key will add a richer, more intense vocal sound that will compliment the emotional intensity of the song. However, make certain that you are incorporating the head tone element into the lower part of your range; otherwise the lower range will sound muddied and lack focus.

I also felt that this song lacked a sense of flow and forward momentum and I attribute this problem to the fragmented arrangement and not to you, Taylor. To my ear, it sounded like the earlier Elvis arrangement –background vocals and all. I didn’t like his arrangement and the same feeling applies to this week’s arrangement. It just clomped along endlessly and the repetitive nature of the harmonic structure added a monotonous feel to the whole arrangement. Can you imagine how remarkable this song would have been if the arrangement had a gospel chorus in the background instead of the background singers repetitively echoing “In the ghettooooo”?

Thank heavens that you, Taylor, are such a strong and committed performer, as you catapulted this song to very high level through your inherent artistry and passion. This arrangement, in the hands of another singer, would spell disaster and this performance was far from that. I just feel that the arrangement did not respect the performer. Case closed!

And so, we wait and see what surprises will be revealed by The Man in the Top 3. I, for one, cannot wait. See you next week, Taylor!

Idol Chatter ( USA Today )
Taylor 'Rocks' the mike
Taylor kicked it off with a performance that ran perilously close to Elvis impersonation, but Jailhouse Rock calls for that sort of overblown presentation. And, contrary to Simon, who's seemingly not among Taylor's biggest fans, I thought it was one of Taylor's stronger vocals. Slight problem enunciating "rhythm section," but overall, a strong
Taylor impresses, will 'Ghetto' boost
Good choice from Taylor, the more soulish side of Elvis, In the Ghetto. Didn't love the short recitation and there was a bit of oversinging, but the song was in his wheelhouse and was a good contrast to his Jailhouse antics.





Following Chris Daughtry's elimination, many Idol fans claimed calls they dialed to Daughtry's line during the first few minutes of voting were misdirected. According to them, the first of his two numbers was answered by a recording of Katharine McPhee (who was also in the bottom two that night) giving thanks for their vote rather than Daughtry. Others reported similar behavior dialing other lines, such as dialing Elliott Yamin's line and hearing a recording of Daughtry giving thanks for their vote.
These charges have never been proven.

The pic says it all:

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Taylor visited Graceland on this Historic Week with Elvis' daughter.

Here's the intro with Tommy Mattolla, JHR and Taylor's comments afterwards-very confident:From OBG

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And here's likewise for "In the Ghetto":

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HOMECOMING WEEK DAY 1 Photos from Media Vault and/or TTHC Media

Pictures of Taylor During his first home visit while still performing on American Idol.

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People Magazine / The Home Stretch,,20061023,00.html

American Idol

May 29, 2006
Taylor Hicks

"I knew this would happen," says Taylor Hicks's mom, Pam Dickinson, who's beaming as her son performs before 4,000 screaming fans during the soulful Idol's hometown visit to Birmingham, Ala. "I knew he was going to become a star," she says.

She's not the only one. "Taylor was born famous; he just didn't know it yet," says Hicks's Birmingham bandmate Brian Less. As for Hicks's unusual stage presence: "He gets so into his music that he can't stop his tics and weird dancing."

His bizarro gyrations evoked cheers from the crowd as Hicks, 29, belted out the '70s soul classic "Will It Go Round in Circles." He later serenaded 12,000 at a shopping mall, mingled and bantered to the point of exhaustion (at one point he signed autographs while slumped against a wall). "You can take a nap in the limo," a FOX producer said, and Hicks smiled. Later that evening he'd recovered enough to address a cheering throng of some 2,000 outside the Birmingham Museum of Art, shouting, "I'm going back to Hollywood and win American Idol for Alabama!"

The TOP 3


This song was not featured in the Rewind Top 3 Program, no doubt, due to permission issues from Mr. Springsteen





This week’s show determined which of the remaining Top Three singers would enter the prestigious Top Two competition. As always, this season could not close out without a shocker and, with Chris Daughtry’s surprise elimination last week, we the viewers have come to believe that anything is possible over the next nine days.

Our Top 3 singers showcased three songs this week that reflected their personal choice plus Clive Davis’ and the judges’ selections. Generally, the song selections were the some of the best I have seen on this show in any season and the singers’ performances mirrored this observation. Elliot, Katharine and Taylor came out fighting and now the real competition rests in the hands of the voters.

However, let’s get down to the business of singing and, more important, of performing. Who managed to create a triple home run this week?

Also, many fans have asked for some clarification on the vocal terminology. I always aim to please, so click here and, hopefully, the technical veil will be lifted.

To quickly access individual singers, simply click on the singer’s link below and, voila, with the touch of a click, you will be forwarded to your favorite singer’s link! Enjoy and please let me know what you think!

Taylor Hicks: “Dancing In The Dark”(Bruce Springsteen), “You Are So Beautiful” (Joe Cocker> and “Try A Little Tenderness” (Otis Redding)

Strengths: Taylor –this week, you executed the triple home run of this competition. All your song selections were distinctly diverse – in tempo and in style – and you proved that you are more than just a song and dance man. You are first and foremost an artist in touch with his feelings and the soul of his music.

Your first selection, a Bruce Springsteen classic, was expertly chosen by the legendary Clive Davis and approved for your performance by the man himself, Bruce Springsteen. What an exciting opportunity for you and, as usual, you took full advantage of this golden opportunity and expertly weaved your vocal magic and charisma in your personal interpretation of this song. Your voice sounded beautifully energized by the powerful rhythmic components of this song and I loved the numerous communicative aspects you employed throughout this number.

You have such a raw intensity when you perform, Taylor and your ability to internalize every emotional aspect of every song has not gone unnoticed. It seems that each song you perform is a different scene in your performing act and, therefore, your approach is always different and totally unpredictable. We never know what to expect and that’s what makes you so very special as a performer.

Therefore, your astounding rendition of “You Are So Beautiful” was quite possibly one of the highlights of this entire competition. The simplicity of the lyrical and melodic content actually challenged you as a singer to communicate with your heart and soul. Songs such as this Joe Cocker classic are deceptively difficult, as the singer must bare his essence – his soul –to translate the song effectively and meaningfully to his audience.

No one does this better than you, Taylor, and this song catapulted you to a level that is reserved for only the very best and inspiring artists. What you did with this song, how you emoted, how you added inflection and nuance in all the right places is something that even the best teachers in the world cannot teach. This is a simple and true fact. Yes, you could benefit with some solid technical lessons, but all singers need this. However no one should ever tamper with your ability to interpret your song material. You w ere born with the correct artistic instincts. It is a gift, Treasure it always.

Vocally, your voice never sounded better than during the performance of this number and your whiskey tenor voice enjoyed a purer and more resonant vocal quality than was heard in your opening number. And that head tone segment in this song was absolutely stellar. Never abandon this head tone element in other areas of your vocal register, Taylor, as it will continue to add a brighter and more radiant vocal quality to your voice. It’s all about bel canto technique, baby, so use it judiciously and you will never look back.

You ended your showcase this week with the much anticipated version of Try A Little Tenderness. I loved the arrangement of this song, Taylor. You started off with a slow, straightforward vocal statement and then, 30 seconds into the song, put your vocal gears in reverse and kicked the song up a few 100 notches or so. This song melded the best of both of your worlds – Taylor the poignant and sensitive artist and Taylor the energetic and charismatic entertainer. You gave us everything you had, Taylor, leaving no stone unturned. Believe me, there were no regrets or cards left on the table after this performance. This was a brilliant arrangement and a brilliant performance and well worth the wait.

You have earned your place in the Finale, Taylor. Bravissimo and thank you for rocking our world!

Critique: Taylor –you are an instinctive and creative performer and no one can ever nor should they ever undermine your unique artistic gifts. However, over the course of your illustrious career you must make certain that you treasure and protect your wonderful vocal gift to the music world.

Referencing your first song selection this week, Dancing In the Dark, I felt that there were intermittent technical problems because you were exerting so much energy on stage. Generally, your voice sounded wonderful, but, toward the end of this number, between running up and down from the stage, dancing with Paula and then returning to the stage, I could hear the breathless quality in your vocal sound. This was expected and I fully appreciated the entertainment value of what you accomplished throughout this number.

However, you must make absolutely certain that the technical foundation for your voice is intact, so that there is never any evidence of strain or tension in the production of your vocal sound. Additionally, you want to make certain that you can control the quality of your voice when you exhibit your energetic stage movements. Try to strike a balance between your choreographic elements and your vocal elements and never leave anything to chance.

The same problem occurred, but to a lesser extent, in your final number, Try A Little Tenderness. I think toward the end of this song, you became a little over pumped and your ending wasn’t as solid as expected. The final notes on the word tenderness were just a bit overdone I thought, but it made me laugh nonetheless because you are such a passionate and enthusiastic performer. I think this is where your genuine personality works in your favor; your fans root for you because you treasure them so much and this will take you a very long way in your performing career. In the end, vocal perfection will take a back seat to a sincere and genuine personality any day, but never lose contact with the correct technical approach to your vocal production.

Also, you should explore the lower range of your vocal register. I feel that you have a rich and resonant timbre in your baritone range, similar to what we heard from Elvis in his later years. His earliest recordings highlighted his tenor range and this is what we are hearing from you as well Taylor. However, take a listen to his later recordings and you will see that the key signature of his songs were significantly lower and continued on this path with the passage of time.

If you follow this path, you will open up a whole new avenue of song repertoire possibilities and will expand the depth and potential of your stellar vocal talent. Additionally, you will avoid the danger of over stating and exerting the upper range during your performances.

However your hard work coupled with your musical gifts ensured your place in this year’s Finale – plus the Soul Patrol delivered as promised. Bravo to you and to them. See you next week, Taylor and, once again, congratulations on such a stellar showcase this week.



Taylor: A boss performance

First Bruce Springsteen song on Idol ever, eh? Let's see if Bruce will regret that move. Actually, not likely. Taylor has a terrific approximation of Springsteen's rocker voice, and he put a much-needed charge into Dancing in the Dark, a relatively sedate song. Dancing with Paula could have been an unnecessary step, though. Best of the Clive round, easy.

Taylor: 'Beautiful' loser?

So Taylor sounds like Joe Cocker? That doesn't mean he has to sing his blandest, most irritating song, You Are So Beautiful. OK, I should separate personal distaste from impartial evaluation of actual performance.

Taylor sounded a little strained and looked borderline agonized, even dangerously queasy. He did resist the temptation to over-Cockerize it, so I guess it was OK, but hardly memorable. I don't think it will propel him past Katharine in the judges' round. And what song was Simon hearing?

Try 'Try' again Taylor

Taylor at last got to perform the song he was reportedly refused permission to do on Classic Love Songs night: Otis Redding's version of the standard Try a Little Tenderness. He probably has sung it a thousand times in Alabama bars, and it had a bar-band quality to it. But it was typical likable Taylor nonetheless.

Sweet home Alabama

After scaling new heights of corporately synergistic filler (the X-Men preview/plug), the show settled into its scheme to fill the 45 minutes or so before actual results are revealed. Taylor was the first subject of a homecoming trip, filled with the usual politicians' proclamations, rapturous crowds and general jocularity. It was notable for showing Taylor playing a guitar, something you don't see every day on Idol. (As in, like, never.) An uneventful reprise of the Doobie Brothers' Takin' It to the Streets concluded the segment.

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Top 3 Encore Performance TAKIN' IT TO THE STREETS

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Posted Image " Hey Simon, what did you think of that ?"



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tags: Katharine McPhee, Taylor Hicks
by Masterclass Lady

And so, after much speculation, intrigue, fan frenzy and numerable outstanding performances, it has come down to this very talented Top 2: Katharine McPhee and Taylor Hicks. These two singers have been on such a rollercoaster ride throughout this show and there were times I couldn’t envision either in the Top 2. This was not my personal reflection of their musical ability, but rather it was my confusion over the mixed messages conveyed through the judges and producers throughout this season.

However, in the end, it was indeed the fans that dictated who they wanted on the Kodak stage and the result was a diversified and energetic farewell performance by these two fantastic artists. It was a great evening of music and the crowd was energized and pumped as could be to support and rally behind their favorite of the two.

Before we continue to the Top 2 Vocal Masterclass, I would like to leave you with some personal observations. Many years ago, the legendary Frank Sinatra crooned the words: “And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain” during his hallmark performance of Paul Anka’s composition, “My Way”.

And for our Top 12 Idols, certainly their Idol end is near, yet this is definitely not the final curtain. Each will, hopefully, follow the golden career path paved for them due to their auspicious journey here on American Idol Season Five. I can only imagine the wonderful opportunities that lie ahead for these supremely talented singers and I wish all of them the very best that life has to offer.

Now, even Masterclass Lady is expected to have favorite, correct? Well, for me, it has always been about Taylor Hicks. His warmth, intelligence, passion and respect for his music are pretty hard qualities to ignore. It has been truly inspiring to watch Taylor each and every week. He has been and will continue to be one of the most genuine and generous artists in the music industry and I am so happy – ecstatic, actually, – that his hard work and savvy determination has paid off in such a monumental way. The Idol franchise’s appreciation for his distinctive artistry has created a higher degree of credibility for this little old talent show called American Idol.

Additionally, it has been a great pleasure to listen to and evaluate these young artists and an even greater pleasure to meet you, the readers, through your interaction with these Vocal Masterclass articles. I have enjoyed writing these articles so very much and look forward to sharing my teaching thoughts with you once again next season.

Until then, thank you once again for your support and your positive feedback.

Also, many fans have asked for some clarification on the vocal terminology. I always aim to please, so click here and, hopefully, the technical veil will be lifted.

To quickly access individual singers, simply click on the singer’s link below and, voila, with the touch of a click, you will be forwarded to your favorite singer’s link! Enjoy and please let me know what you think!

Taylor Hicks: “Living For The City”(Stevie Wonder), “Levon” (Elton John) and “Do I Make You Proud” (Idol Single)

Strengths: Taylor –as always, your primary goal this week was to entertain your legion of fans and adopt new ones along the way. You have an innate ability to select songs that highlight different segments of your personality, thus allowing your audience to become immersed in a musical taylorized ride that is inevitably loaded with numerous twists and turns. Programming is integral to the success of a concert and you, Taylor, are brilliant in processing songs that will keep your audience fully energized and absorbed in your stage show.

You opened this week’s showcase with a repeat of your Top 12 performance, Living For The City. Once again you communicated the enthusiastic nature of this song with professional brilliance, allowing the audience to fully participate in this great Stevie Wonder classic. My favorite segments in this song occurred during your rhythmic ascending and descending stair movements throughout this number. You were rhythmically cohesive during these rapid stair stepping actions, all the while allowing your voice to remain energized and resonant. These movements were reminiscent of your Top 8 performance of A Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and I am glad you included this neat choreography in this number. Thank you, Taylor. I loved it.

You had a rhythmic connection to this song that never relented and that embodied the essence and soul of this number. Your ability to involve your audience is unparalleled. From your off stage and onstage demeanor to the skillful use of the television cameras, it was evident that you were there for one reason and one reason only – to entertain both your live and television audience.

Then we moved on to the Elton John classic, Levon. I was actually quite excited to evaluate this song, as I was not given the opportunity to do so when you performed this song in the elimination rounds for this season’s Top 24 singers. What I loved the very most about this number – apart from the fact that it contrasted so beautifully with your previous Stevie Wonder number –was the fact that the earlier segments of this song allowed you to expose your beautiful baritone voice I have spoken about in previous Masterclass articles.

Taylor – you have a whole other register that needs to be highlighted more consistently throughout your performances. The opening segments of Levon emphasized the depth and robust beauty of your lower range and, additionally, allowed you to fully produce this part of your voice with the correct diaphragmatic breathing technique. Part of the reason for this technical efficiency had to do with the slower, more sustained pace of this song; however, nevertheless, the natural, pure beauty of your lower register just made the whole vocal process so much easier for you.

Stylistically, you entered the stage with a relaxed and quiet demeanor, thus complimenting the pensive mood in the initial stages of this song. This contrasted beautifully with the more passionate and energetic performing direction later on in the song. Additionally, your melodic variation throughout this number was very much appreciated and as always signified your distinct interpretive abilities as an artist.

Additionally, there was ample evidence of the bel canto methodology of singing during this number. You attempted to maintain a circular mouth position on those sustained, pure vowels and, in doing so, energized and focused your vocal sound through the diaphragmatic breathing process. All one has to do is watch you sustain your final note on the word Levohhhhhn and it is plainly evident that it was bel canto all the way baby! I loved it – nice relaxed jaw and all.

Your final number this week was your Idol single, Do I Make You Proud. And I answer- yes Taylor, you did! And here is the reason why. First of all, the writers keyed this song to highlight your lower and mid range and after weeks of waiting for a song to acknowledge this area of your vocal talent, we were finally rewarded.

Now you were singing in what I feel is the most natural part of your singing range – your baritone range. Your voice sounded rich and full and absolutely seamless even when you maneuvered those wicked intervals from your lower to upper register. And that segue into the key change was pitch perfect and vocally astounding. By accessing your diaphragm in the earlier stages of this song, you actually improved the overall resonant quality of your voice in your upper range and, at times, you achieved an almost classical timbre to your voice, Taylor.

Stylistically, this song could not have been performed any better. You took this song by the bullhorns and injected your authentic soulful sound into the lyrics and melody. This was a song for the Soul Patrol and it was evident that your heart and your spirit during this song performance embodied your devotion and thanks to the fans whom have been instrumental to your success on American Idol.

And so, I say to you Mr. Hicks, congratulations and bravissimo for staying so utterly true to your personal artistic vision week after week on American Idol. Your excellence and commitment as a singer, composer and performer are what is so dearly needed in mainstream music today. Thank you for not compromising your ideals and for always keeping it real.

Critique: Taylor –as I said last week, you are an instinctive and creative performer and no one can ever nor should they ever undermine your unique artistic gifts. However, you must make certain that you protect and care for your voice properly. You have only one set of vocal cords, Taylor, and you must make certain that the correct technical approach is part of your daily rehearsal routine.

This week, as in other weeks, there were intermittent vocal production problems when you highlighted your whiskey tenor range. We never want you to lose this sound, Taylor – this is your trademark, your vocal signature. However, there were many moments where I thought your throat sounded very constrained during Living In the City and Levon. I can understand that the fatigue and stress at this point in the competition must be tremendous, but, nevertheless, you have to find ways to manage and care for your vocal health.

Try not speaking or singing for 48 hours before a performance. I know this is not possible during American Idol; however, once you establish your own tour schedule, make certain you insist on this. Schedule quiet and reflective time for yourself. It really works and the greatest classical artists in the world use this practice all the time. In fact, it is a well -known fact that pop star, Celine Dion, does not speak or sing prior to her performances. And – no whispering as this still creates additional stress on the vocal cords.

Over the course of this competition, a high level of comparison was noted between you and Elvis – your persona, your stage movements, your soulful vocal sound, the Southern connection – all are justified. Presently, your vocal sound reminds me of a young Elvis, when he was vocalizing mainly in his tenor range. Listen to the earliest recordings of The King, and then compare the startling difference in his vocal timbre once he moved the key selection for his songs down a few notches in his later years.

This is the direction I feel you should pursue in terms of appropriate key selection for your voice. It was so evident in your second and, certainly, your third number that your voice sounded more energized and resonant when the melodic line of these songs highlighted and emphasized your lower and mid range voice. Your voice sounded absolutely stellar, very rich!
However, please don’t mistake this as evidence that you cannot sing into your upper range; on the contrary, you never want to lose your upper voice and that head tone (falsetto) is excellent. . However, you are at an age now where your voice is starting to deepen, and your lower range will definitely become easier to access when you sing. It is a well-known fact that everyone starts to lose his or her natural agility for attaining open and free head tone notes with the passage of time and that is why technique is so important. It ensures that, at the very least, the technical process will assist you in securing a solid, pitch centered and pure head tone register. You must learn to showcase your upper range in a way that does not overextend or tax the natural agility of the vocal cords. It’s about achieving a comfortable balance between all areas of your vocal register, Taylor.

However, Taylor my man, you have been a joy and pleasure to evaluate each and every week. What you do on that stage – well, it is something that cannot be taught. Like a fish can instinctively swim or a bird can fly, you, Taylor possess all the correct instincts when you sing. It is part of who you are as a person and as a performer and both entities are intertwined. Don’t ever change, because this is what has made you such a treasured and memorable person throughout this competition.

Congratulations on your American Idol triumph. It was a difficult road for sure, but the Soul Patrol had your back all the way. In the end, it is gratifying to know that excellence truly rises to the top. Kudos!


American Idol Finals--Taylor Hicks v. Katharine McPheeHome | Articles |
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Published 05/24/2006 05:03:02 by Rachel

So it is the final show.? Here is my review:

Taylor Hicks “Livin’ For the City” by Stevie Wonder “Leave On” by Elton John His original song was “Do I Make You Proud”Taylor really got the crowd hyped up with the first.? I loved the second song—it gave me chills.? I really like that song, but I like it even better in Taylor’s southern accent. ? Ok, so Taylor’s song was a little better than Katharine’s, but it did start out really slow. ? Ok, here goes the pseudo-gospel choir again.? I guess it works a little better with Taylor.? Judging by the audience response, and Simon, it sounds like Taylor has the leg up.

I’m rooting for Taylor.? I think his advantage is that he is much better able to inspire people. ? I have to admit that the fact that he is such an underdog is why I like him. ? If you remember, Simon didn’t even want to let him out of the first round in part because of his look. ? Of course, the other big reason Taylor has an advantage is because he is a southerner….no northerner or westerner has ever one American Idol. ? Only southerners have won the competition.? In fact, the state of Alabama has three contestants in the finals—Rueben Studdard, Bo Bice, and Taylor Hicks (admittedly three of my favorite Idol contestants.).? I guess we’ll see who the winner is tomorrow.

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May 23, 2006
Taylor: 'Levon' me a little cold
Well, I was expecting something more R&B than Levon, but maybe it wasn't a bad idea; it gave him a chance to start slow and pick it up. I did hear a couple of sour notes near the beginning, though, and despite Taylor deploying all his vocal tricks, it wasn't a monster performance.

Not a truly 'Proud' moment for Taylor
Taylor got to leave the last impression with Do I Make You Proud.
Swell, it was another ballad. It would be nice if the Idol machine showed one shred of original thought, but no, no matter who the contestant is, they have to fit into the Idol ballad box. Big, over-gospeled mess, and I think he messed up the modulation to a higher key. I don't think either of them did themselves much good, and all those manic repetitions of "Soul Patrol" didn't help.

Nice to see a rebellion on the part of the judges against these dismal songs. Back with a summary shortly.

Taylor-made victory
Taylor wins! Excellent! Week by week, he deserved it. And what fun it will be to see him battle the Idol machine! Here's hoping they don't grind him down.

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May 25, 2006
Taylor Hicks Basks In 'Idol' Win

(CBS/AP) "Stars do fall on Alabama."

That's how an ecstatic Taylor Hicks summed up his night after being voted the new "American Idol" Wednesday.

The Birmingham, Ala., 29-year-old, who wooed viewers with his raw singing style, wild dance moves and an unlikely mop of gray hair, said he wanted to travel back home to his legions of "Soul Patrol" fans, whom he thanked onstage the moment he won.

Then, he added, he wants to record a "really good" album, "with soul."

"I'm heading to the studio as quickly as I can," he said. "But I'll take a few days off to clear my head."

Hicks told The Early Show national correspondent Hattie Kauffman he hasn't been able to sleep yet.

"This is a dream, the American dream," he told Kauffman. And he says he would love to tour with younger R&B and rock artists such as John Legend and John Mayer. Hicks' victory earned him a recording contract and a new car.

The announcement came after a grand finale Wednesday night that included two hours of performances by this year's finalists, past contestants and several surprise celebrity guests.

The results show took place at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. Fans of local favorite Katharine McPhee were gathered in nearby Universal City and Taylor's fans were rooting for him in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala. Both groups were shown on the Kodak's big screen live via satellite.

McPhee tells CBS News she wasn't sad about taking second place.

"It wasn't sadness, it was more like bittersweet feeling of graduating from high school," she said. McPhee also told Kauffman that she had the time of her life at the contest. She said "doors are starting to open."

The show's fifth and best-rated edition took a leap in stature Wednesday when Prince, Mary J. Blige and other big names performed during the finale. The series has given big boosts to the album sales of pop stars who have appeared on it.

More than 63 million votes were cast, "more than any president in the history of our country has received," Seacrest said. Specific tallies for Hicks and McPhee were not immediately announced.

The finale opened with last year's winner, Carrie Underwood, and this year's 12 finalists all dressed in white singing Barry Manilow's "I Made It Through The Rain."

The evening included duets with the show's 12 finalists paired with surprise celebrity guests. Pairings of contestants and stars on the "Idol" finale included Paris Bennett and Al Jarreau; McPhee and Meat Loaf; Chris Daughtry and Live; Elliott Yamin and Blige; Hicks and Toni Braxton, and the dozen finalists with Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick.

But, Prince's performance was the biggest surprise of all. He sang a medley of songs toward the end of the show.

Earlier, teen finalist Paris Bennett was brilliantly paired with jazz great Al Jarreau, to sing his "We're In This Love Together." Rocker Chris Daughtry joined Live to sing "Mystery" and Katharine teamed up with Meat Loaf to sing "It's All Coming Back To Me Now."

In between the songs, there were various attempts at comedy, some more successful than others.

Country girl Kellie Pickler, who was teased during the contest for her malapropisms and not knowing what calamari was, did a few segments with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.

Kellie got her first reluctant taste of escargot and Puck managed to send her screaming from the table when he introduced her to a few live lobsters.

2Other silliness included the Golden Idol Awards which "honored" the very worst performances the judges had to endure during the show's auditions.

One of the awards was for "best" celebrity impersonation. The winner: nerdy contestant Michael Sandeki, for his impersonation of Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken.

Michael was asked to sing his audition song, Elton John's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," and looked genuinely surprised when the real Clay joined him on stage.

Divided up by gender, the six female finalists and six male finalists each had a chance to sing a medley of songs.

The six male finalists, Chris, Taylor, Ace Young, Bucky Covington, Elliott Yamin and Kevin Covais sang Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Taking Care of Business," Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop," and John D. Loudermilk's blues/rock classic "Tobacco Road."

The women — Katharine, Paris, Kellie, Mandisa, Melissa McGhee and Lisa Tucker — sang Shania Twain's "I Feel Like A Woman," Elvis Presley's "Trouble," Carole King's "Natural Woman," and Chaka Khan's "I'm Every Woman."

More duets included Elliott with Mary J. Blige singing U2's "One" and Taylor, joined by Toni Braxton, for Elvis Presley's "In The Ghetto."

Songwriting legend Burt Bacharach sat at the grand piano to accompany all the finalists in a medley of his classics including "I Say A Little Prayer," "What's New Pussycat?" and "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head."

3At the end of the medley, Bacharach's muse and one of the greatest interpreters of his music, Dionne Warwick, took the stage to sing her hit "Walk On By."

At that point Taylor and Kat came out to sing "That's What Friends Are For" with Warwick and the rest of the finalists.

But it would still be another 30 minutes before the winner was announced.

Taylor and Kat came back to sing a duet of "(I've Had) The Time Of My Life" from the movie "Dirty Dancing."

:credit to naturalchaos

Then, after the performance by Prince, Taylor learned that he would be this year's American Idol. He leaned over in an emotional reaction when host Ryan Seacrest announced his victory.

"I was just telling myself, 'Don't fall to the floor. Don't let my knees buckle.' I had to sing afterwards!" he told CBS News backstage.

Taylor was speechless at first, but after hugging Kat he managed to shout out his trademark phrase, "Soul Patrol!" and pump his fist in the air as he was cheered on by fans in Birmingham, Ala., on the giant screen behind him. In addition to the title, Taylor will get a record deal with Sony BMG.

Taylor closed out the evening by performing his upcoming single "Do I Make You Proud?"

4During the one hour episode, Kat and Taylor sang three songs, including the songs chosen to be their debut singles.

Katharine is 22, beautiful, young, and has a powerful voice — all of which fit the image of a typical pop idol.

Throughout the contest, her weakness was oversinging her songs. Each judge in his or her own way tried to get her to tone down the wailing.

The most successful was Simon Cowell. The cranky British judge chose the 1939 classic "Over The Rainbow" for Kat to sing on May 16. Sitting on the stage, Kat sang the song gently, with feeling, and no screeching, much to the delight of the audiences — and Simon.

Tuesday night Kat sang, in order, KT Tunstall's "Black Horse in a Cherry Tree," "Over the Rainbow," and her new song, "My Destiny."

Taylor is a 29-year-old veteran of the nightclub scene who also plays a mean harmonica. He entered the competition as something of a goofy novelty.

Despite his loose-legged dance moves and an "aw shucks!" attitude, Hicks won over fans and judges with consistently solid vocal performances and an ability to command the stage like a veteran showman.

In the final competition episode, Taylor sang Stevie Wonder's "Livin' For The City," Elton John's "Levon" and his single, "Do I Make You Proud?"

According to Simon, Taylor "slaughtered" Kat in Round 1, but Kat managed to even the score in Round 2.

Following Round 3, Simon called Kat a "great potential artist," but after Taylor performed Simon said, "Assuming that I was right that the show was tied, then you've just won 'American Idol.' "

Of course, Seacrest took that as an opportunity to remind the audience that Simon turned Taylor down during the audition phase of the contest. Taylor made it into the contest because judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul voted him in.

Simon got the last laugh. Even though he's not in need of any ego-boosting, he correctly predicted Taylor Hicks would win the contest.

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The winner is

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Ricky Minor the Musical Director for American Idol became the new Musical Director of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

Montage from Naturalchaos

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Watch Prince's 'American Idol' Performance From 2006
4/23/2016 by Michele Amabile Angermiller
Prince performs "Lolita"/"Satisfied" on the "American Idol" Season 5 finale in 2006.

Former American Idol host Ryan Seacrest paid tribute to Prince by sharing a memory of when the late musician appeared on the show's season 5 finale.

At the time, the Fox singing show was pulling in over 30 million viewers, and Prince wanted to go on the show to promote his 2006 album, 3121. Dressed in a tapered purple suit, he strolled onto the stage with two dancers. He burned through the uptempo "Lolita" and the soulful "Satisfied" before turning on one heel and exiting the building.

Seacrest tweeted about the surreal moment, writing "he walked thru the back door..sang his in the car..and left. He was that powerful."

Prince passed away at on April 21 at age 57.

The Soul Patrol was always behind him :

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Taylor is unloading boxes in Birmingham and found this in one of them............. WOW !!! I GUESS THE WIN IN 2006 WASN'T A DREAM, JUST A DREAM COME TRUE !!!!

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BILLBOARD'S HOT 100'S Only 20 Songs Have Debuted Atop the Chart in the Hot 100's 53-Year History

"Do I Make You Proud "is listed as # 14 !!!!!

Chart Debut Date: July 1, 2006
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A blog by Eric J Heels giving his interpretation of the Amer. Idol Finale with analysis and perspective on Taylor and Katherine. Use the links provided to read detailed information on the articles featured.

American Idol Finale Preview

Posted May 24, 2006, in Google, Music by Erik J. Heels

There will be a riot if Taylor Hicks does not win tonight.
I've been reading the reviews of yesterday's final American Idol competition between Taylor Hicks and Katharine McPhee, and I am sure of only one thing. There will be a riot if Taylor Hicks does not win tonight. Usually, there is some drama, some disagreement amongst the pundits. Not this time. Nearly everybody is predicting that Taylor Hicks will be the next American Idol. Does this mean that Carrie Underwood will be there to hand over her crown? And does Taylor have to wear it? It would go well with his purple blazer from last night.

So I've got a summary of my past musings about Taylor and Katharine in a table below. What story does it tell? That there were nights in which Katharine out-sang Taylor, but last night was not one of those nights. Taylor was never in the bottom three (or two), he was never controversial (unless I missed it), and he only had to be consistently above average to win. (See my "do the math" commentary below.)

American Idol Blog-O-Rama

Here are some entertaining tidbits from other bloggers. Because after tonight, we all go on American Idol hiatus for six months or so.

In a surprising moment of lucidity, VFTW wrote this nice analysis of the various singing styles of the finalists (

"Katherine – Oh God, where do I begin. First off, I think she's a soprano in denial. Her voice just isn't belty–dark, rich and low, like an alto's would be–it's high and light. I remember this week she sang something in her upper register and it sounded absolutely lovely. Also, most sopranos just can't sustain belting like that, which would explain why Katherine strains so much and misses notes. But, that's just a theory of mine, which others may not agree with. Anyway, she has bad placement: she's singing from the back of her throat and thus lacking the forward placement which would make her tone brighter. I am not sure if this is on purpose or not, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were because she wants to sing jazz so badly. She often sings songs that are too low for her, as well.

Taylor – He can very pitchy. It's hard to judge his technique because usually he's more concentrated on dancing around instead of singing, hehe. Another theory of mine is that he sings songs that are too low for him. Barry Manilow said that he's a tenor leggiero (really high tenor) and that would be backed up by the fact that last Wednesday he was able to sing some pretty high notes without going into falsetto."

Entertainment Weekly reviews the Idol Season 5 Encores CD and includes this nugget (although YMMV) (

Kevin Covais, "When I Fall In Love": If Simon Cowell went to hell, guess what would be on his iPod?

The Heart On A Stick blogger has some interesting analysis of how he was initially rooting for Taylor Hicks to win and then became indifferent (

"[Taylor] loved music too much to care about anything else, too much to not show it. He seemed to have a personality – musically, at least — too big to be co-opted. He didn't seem to know better, and couldn't be bothered to learn. Taylor Hicks and American Idol were destined to be either/or propositions. The more an outing embarrassed Simon, the better it must have been."

The title of this tongue-in-cheek piece from Defamer almost says it all: "Spelling Picks Up Work as 'American Idol' Background Player" (

"Tori Spelling was one of the first to answer the open Idol casting call seeking 'upper middle class, Sherman Oaks types' who could adequately 'feign genuine affection for Katharine McPhee.'"

James Hudnall wrote a very entertaining summary of last night's show, including this gem about Taylor's last song (

"[Taylor] had to sing the song that the Idol producers chose as his first single. And when he started my headache came back. But then something happened. It's what I call Taylor's super power. You see, I have this theory that everyone has a super-power of some kind. Most people have a useless one, that they often don't even know they have. Like causing elevators to show up quickly or traffic lights to favor them. Taylor has an ability to take any song and find an emotional connection, which he then projects out to the audience. He works the song, molds it in his hands, and creates a thing of beauty."

Finally, Reality TV Magazine, in a piece entitled "Simon Cowell Was Wrong About Taylor Hicks!" has this to say (

"America doesn't need another cookie-cutter pop artist. America needs a Taylor Hicks in all his crazy dancing, purple jacket wearing, harmonica playing, soul singing glory."

Was the writing on the wall?

Here is a summary of my past musings.

Erik's American Idol 20-20 Hindsight
Article Taylor Katharine
American Idol Top 9 Preview (4/4/2006) I expect that Chris Daughtry and Taylor Hicks will have no trouble adopting their singing styles (rock and soul, respectively) to the country genre…. FWIW, here is the order I predict the top 9 will finish overall.
1. Taylor Hicks
2. Chris Daughtry
3. Kellie Pickler
4. Mandisa Hundley
5. Paris Bennett
6. Katharine McPhee
7. Bucky Covington
8. Elliott Yamin
9. Ace Young Similarly, I expect Katharine McPhee to sing well but to perform in a forgettable manner…. FWIW, here is the order I predict the top 9 will finish overall.
1. Taylor Hicks
2. Chris Daughtry
3. Kellie Pickler
4. Mandisa Hundley
5. Paris Bennett
6. Katharine McPhee
7. Bucky Covington
8. Elliott Yamin
9. Ace Young
American Idol Top 9 Recap (4/4/2006) 6. Taylor Hicks (16/25). Taylor sang a ballad ("Take Me Home"?) and just stood there. The band seemed much too loud and it was hard to hear his voice. He was on key but it just was not too fun. 2. Katharine McPhee (19/25). Katharine sang an upbeat song ("Elvis In Me"?) and looked like she was having fun. It was a strong performance. When Simon started to complain (again presumably about the song, not the performance), Katherine (smartly) jumped in and said, "It's OK, you just don't like country music." It doesn't matter who likes what kind of music. American votes based on the quality of the vocal performance, and this was a good performance.
American Idol Top 8 Preview (4/10/2006) The others all have unique styles that should allow them to perform in a memorable manner. I think that Ace, Elliott, and Katherine will have the hardest time tomorrow trying to sound unique and non-Queen-like.
American Idol Top 8 Recap (4/11/2006) 1. Taylor Hicks (23.5/25). Taylor sang Crazy Little Thing Called Love. It was a fun, relaxed, upbeat, rockin', memorable, soulful performance. It was, in short, everything an American Idol performance should be. And the crowd loved it. Simon called it "ridiculous," but he got this one wrong, one of two he got wrong for the night. I'm beginning to think he does not like soul singers. 4. Katharine McPhee (18.5/25). Katharine sang Who Wants to Live Forever?, which was the only real ballad of the night. (I don't think you can call Bohemian Rhapsody a ballad.) It was a good song to show off her vocal range, and she wore non-maternity-looking clothes for a change. But Katharine seemed tentative on some of the big notes and did not have the best stage presence.
American Idol Top 7 Preview (4/17/2006) I have already purchased Taylor's second CD, and I've never purchased any Idol merchandise previously. Taylor and Katherine are the most talented singers, and they should sail through easily to the next round. If you have gray hair, you should be voting for Taylor, who, in addition to being the strongest male singer, is the strongest performer in the bunch. Taylor and Katherine are the most talented singers, and they should sail through easily to the next round.
American Idol Top 7 Recap (4/18/2006) 3. Taylor Hicks (19.5/25). Ryan chats with Taylor about the parody of Taylor Hicks from this week's episode of Saturday Night Live (without mentioning SNL by name) and Taylor takes the ribbing well. When you are parodied on SNL, you know that you have arrived. Rod Stewart disagrees with Simon about the value of dancing and performing on stage and tells Taylor that you have to "grab the audience by the balls," which earns him a bleep from the censors. Taylor sang You Send Me, which started off a bit slow but ended very strong. Another strong showing for Taylor. 1. Katharine McPhee (20.5/25). Katharine sang Someone to Watch Over Me, and it was vocally flawless. Definitely a MOMENT for Katharine. She showed vocal range and control while working the camera skillfully despite a plethora of extreme close-ups like you'd see in a Spanish soap opera. (It says something about standards night when my highest score is only 20.5.)
American Idol Top 6 Recap (4/25/2006) 2. Taylor Hicks (18/25). Taylor sang "Just Once," which is a Quincy Jones song, and I could swear that Michael Bolton has covered it. My wife and I joked about Taylor singing Michael Bolton, and even if he didn't sing a Bolton song, it's never a good thing to be thinking about Michael Bolton when you're trying to judge a singing competition. The quote from the movie "Office Space" ( comes to mind: "Why should I change? He's the one who sucks." So Taylor's performance was good, not great. The first half was OK, the second half more spirited and soulful. David Foster said Taylor had the "most charisma," this from the man who appears to have none (at least not on camera). Michael Bolton cried. 3. Katharine McPhee (18/25). Katharine sang "I Have Nothing," perhaps in an attempt to suck up to David Foster. It's a Whitney Houston song, and I had never heard it. Katharine sounded too breathy and was simultaneously lacking breath support (if that is possible). Her dress was distracting but her fans will love it. The performance was good, not great. I have nothing to compare it to. I watched her performance last (taped), which colors your perception. If you watch it last instead of first, you'll see that Simon's criticisms were too harsh. Katharine's dad cried.
American Idol Top 6 Results (4/26/2006) Now, why grizzly bears are relevant to the outcome of American Idol. There is a saying that if you are running away from a grizzly bear, then you do not have to be the fastest runner. You only have to be faster than at least one other person (the person behind you). So it is with American Idol. You do not ever have to give a standout performance. If you sing above average every week, then you will win the American Idol competition. (Do the math. With two left, only the winner is above average.) Which leads me to some more observations about season 4 vs. season 5. Last year, I remember outstanding performances from Nadia Turner, Anthony Federov, Constantine Maroulis, Vonzelle Solomon, and Bo Bice. But I do not remember any outstanding performances from Carrie Underwood, the eventual season 5 winner. Carrie always sang above average and was never in the bottom three. That's all it takes to win. The only remaining idol candidate with anything close to those same attributes is Taylor Hicks. Taylor Hicks has always sung above average and has never been in the bottom three. Taylor has arguably had more memorable performances in season 5 than Carrie had in season 4, but otherwise the fact pattern matches up. So could Taylor Hicks win American Idol? It's worth noting that Simon admitted he was wrong about Katharine's performance. Based on what I wrote yesterday, I'm guessing he's reading my blog now. Thanks for the support, Simon!
American Idol Top 5 Recap (5/2/2006) 1. Taylor Hicks (19.5 + 20 = 39.5/50). Taylor sang "Play That Funky Music" in the first round, which is not really a singing song. And he sang the heck out of it. He was laying down and singing on his back (taking Bocelli's advise to Chris from last week's show?), which was odd. So was his outfit. And the band was too loud.

In the second round, Taylor sang "Something," a Beatles song that, through the accounting magic of the music industry, is on the charts this week. The song is older than Taylor, but he did it justice and put his own spin on it. He was a little sharp at the beginning, and I didn't like the humming at the end. It was good but not great.
4. Katharine McPhee (18 + 20 = 38/50). Katharine sang "Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)," and it was a dreadful arrangement. She sang off key at the start and the modulation was awkward. There isn't any bad song that can't be made worse by adding a modulation, and this song is no exception. It was exceedingly, painfully boring.

In the second round, Katharine sang "Black Horse And A Cherry Tree," which was too low for her at the start of the song (a common problem with songs this season). This is a fun song with a Bo Diddley beat to it that I've been enjoying on UK radio for a long time. Katharine did a nice job singing it and, oddly, sat or kneeled on the stage for the entire song. She had a strong finish to the song.

American Idol Top 4 Recap (5/9/2006) 1. Taylor Hicks (23.5 + 21 = 44.5/50). Taylor sang "Jail House Rock" in the first round. Tommy Mottola was cool and gave good advice to Taylor, who even looked like Elvis in this song. Taylor gave the type of performance that his fans – and music fans in general – love. It was full of energy, hot, and flawless. An Idol moment for Taylor. Simon, who made reference to the "real world," is clearly not living there himself, and his criticism of Taylor was totally off base, prompting Paula Abdul to yell at him and him to snap "shut up" in reply. America, thankfully, is no longer listening to Simon, who is increasingly becoming a parody of himself.

In the second round, Taylor sang "In The Ghetto." While I thought this was great, I actually preferred Taylor's first song. But this performance looked even better following a tepid performance by Katharine. Tommy Mottola said (twice) that Taylor's rendition was very impressive, and he got that right. Rich and interesting, with nice high notes, higher and smoother than we've heard from Taylor all season. Simon said that Taylor sung his way into the semis.
4. Katharine McPhee (17 + 18.5 = 35.5/50). Katharine sang a medley of "Hound Dog" and "All Shook Up" in the first round. A medley. Like they do in high school. Hundreds of great Elvis songs and Kat sings a medley. Yuck. I thought it was karaoke. Simon called it manic, like a bad audition. Plus she forgot her lyrics and turned her back to the camera to try to cover up. This was as close to a train wreck as there was tonight.

In the second round, Katharine sang "Can't Help Falling In Love." This was a signature ballad for Elvis and Kat did not do it justice. Tommy Mottola encouraged her to emote but not to yell, and she did not take his advice. At the start, she sang in a whiny style and the song was way too slow. Then she looked nervous and rushed after the modulation. I thought it was really rough. Simon said it was like apple pie plus a gallon of cream, which is his way of saying that it was over the top.

American Idol Top 4 Results (5/10/2006) American Idol is not a singing competition. American Idol is a performing competition. Which is why we end up with a celebrity in the audience, Rebecca Romijn, gushing over Taylor and asking him to reprise last night's version of "Jail House Rock." Of course, Taylor brought down the house, all along probably wondering why he was singing on elimination night. All of the final four are great singers. Only Taylor is a great performer. After being told that she was in the bottom two, Katharine looked shocked not to be going home.
American Idol Top 3 Preview (5/10/2006) I have said all along that Taylor Hicks is the best performer of this year's American Idol contestants, and I also believe that he is the best singer…. Simon Cowell said that he didn't think that Taylor could be commercial…. After I saw Taylor perform "Levon" (American Idol S05E12), I purchased his second CD (his first CD is out of print) entitled "Under The Radar" ( Once you listen to "Under The Radar," you will understand why Taylor Hicks will be commercially successful. This is some seriously fun, smooth, tight, grooving music. Taylor's voice mixes seamlessly with keyboard runs and sax solos. Good stuff. And all I can remember from Katharine McPhee is boring ballads.
American Idol Top 3 Recap (5/16/2006) 1. Taylor Hicks (21.5 + 21.5 + 24 = 67/75). Clive Davis chose "Dancing In The Dark" for Taylor's first song, and it was apparently the first time that a Bruce Springsteen song has been performed on American Idol. Taylor sung the song strongly, even squeezing in some (spontaneous?) dancing with judge Paula Abdul. Notice I said "squeezing in," because this performance felt truncated and rushed (kind of like the "round of 5" night). I thought it was a very good performance but it didn't give Taylor a chance to show off his vocal range.

Judge Randy Jackson chose "You Are So Beautiful" by Joe Cocker for Taylor's second song. You know, because Taylor reminds Randy of Joe Cocker. I don't know. I do not like the sappy ballads. Maybe it's just me. The song started off slow, and I was wondering how (or whether) Taylor would pull off the falsetto portion, assuming he sticks to a Cocker-like performance, but he pulled it off nicely. In fact, this style of singing is very much like what you'll find on Taylor's second CD, which I blogged about yesterday. Simon called it Taylor's best performance yet. Simon should also listen to Taylor's CD.

Taylor chose "Try A Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding for this third song. And he said he was doing this one for the Soul Patrol. The song starts out as a slow ballad and then transitions to a more soulful upbeat song, and the longer the song went, the more fun it was. Taylor gives the kind of performance which, at least in this household (of five people), can make you simultaneously smile, laugh, and cheer. It was magic, awesome, a home run. Simon didn't like the ending but said he'd see Taylor next week in the finals.

Taylor was solid on his first two songs and knocked the third out of the park, so I expect him to move to the finals.
2. Katharine McPhee (18.5 + 21 + 19.5 = 59/75). Clive Davis chose "I Believe I Can Fly" by R. Kelly for Katharine's first song. Katharine's voice sounded hoarse in her video clip with Clive Davis. She got a little ahead of the music and then inexplicably dropped out before the chorus. I can't believe that was the arrangement, to have the backup singers sing the first chorus. If it was, it was a horrible arrangement. It was a bit rough after the modulation but nothing major. Randy said that with a song like this, you should concentrate on singing the melody, and I agree.

Judge Simon Cowell chose "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" for Katharine's second song. She started a cappella, and I was wondering if she would do the who song without the band (like Bo Bice did last year), but the band joined in soon after the song started. Katharine sounded like Karen Carpenter during this song. I will leave it to the reader to determine whether or not that is a good thing. It was much better than her first song. But why was she sitting down? Does any popular artist perform a song this way? In any event, she sang the song extremely well (even though it is a dreadful song). Someone forgot to tell Kat that she was supposed to crash and burn in the round of three. She had a couple of saccharine moments mixed in there. And is it my imagination or was that song a lot longer than the other songs tonight? Simon called it the best performance of the season by any contestant. Of course he did, he chose the song. It was very good, even great, but it was not the best of the season, not by a long shot. Why do judges love the sappy ballads?

Katharine chose "I Ain't Got Nothing But The Blues" for her third song. I had never heard the song before. The style of the song, surprisingly, suited Kat just fine. Surprisingly, because I don't recall her doing this sort of piece previously. It was, however, more suitable for Broadway than for Hollywood. And it ended rather suddenly. Perhaps because her second song was so long. Overall, it was a solid performance of an obscure song. My oldest son counted four gratuitous lip licks (the "tongue thing") during the post-song chat with Ryan Seacrest. This is the sort of thing that I miss when I'm taking notes.

Katharine was up and down. Her second song was her best. I think that Katharine will connect with first-time viewers more than Elliott will, so I give Kat a slight edge over Elliot.

American Idol Top 2 Preview (Or Why Taylor Hicks Is The 2004 Red Sox) (5/22/2006) I personally think that Taylor would be wise to pick a funky fast song (like "Living For The City") and follow it up with a ballad (like "Something"). Frankly, I'd enjoy anything that Taylor sings. It would be totally cool if he did one of his original songs from his "Under The Radar" CD. Taylor has always sung – and performed – well and memorably. So I give the edge to Taylor. As for Katharine, I can only remember two of her songs: "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" and "Over The Rainbow." Katharine has always sung (more or less) well but not memorably.
American Idol Top 2 Recap (5/23/2006) Taylor Hicks (23/25). For his first song, Taylor reprised "Living For The City." The first thing we did in our house was turn up the volume. Grab the remote and turn up the volume, because Taylor is in the house! Taylor worked the crowd and the camera with an energetic big performance, definitely big enough for the Kodak Theatre. This was a slightly longer arrangement than when he first sang it. I counted a nearly 20 second ovation from the audience. Simon said that round one goes to Taylor.

Taylor Hicks (21/25). For his second song, Taylor reprised "Levon." I jumped on the Taylor bandwagon for real after Taylor's first performance of "Levon" early in the season. Back then, it was the first we'd seen of the passion of his performances, the emotional connection he makes with a song. This time, it was not quite as good as the first time. The first time, his performance was such a contrast to the other performances of the night. Now that we're used to Taylor, this performance didn't stand out as much. Simon said that after two rounds, we're tied. I actually have Taylor slightly ahead 44 to 43.

Taylor Hicks (24/25). For his third and final song, Taylor sang "Do I Make You Proud," which will be his first single. Taylor was smooth and powerful, building to a great climax. The song got bigger and better as it progressed. And Taylor nailed the modulation. Unbelievable. You gotta love the gospel backup singers. Taylor can even make the bogus original song sound good! I thought it was, by far, the best of the night. Simon said, "Taylor, you have just won American Idol."

It occurs to me that the Kodak seats about 3000 and that Taylor sang to much bigger crowds back home in Alabama.
Katharine McPhee (20/25). For her first song, Katharine reprised "Black Horse And The Cherry Tree." She wandered around the melody a bit and did more dancing and prancing than sitting like the first time. I don't think this is the best song for a venue like the Kodak Theatre. The song isn't big enough. It's a fun pop song, and Kat sang it well, about as well as the first time she sang it this season. But, overall, I'd say that it was a song and she sang it. Simon said it was good with a small "g" and that it was a good warm-up for her. Ouch. Because it's the final competition night, I don't think anyone should score below 20, so that's where Kat set the bar with this performance.

Katharine McPhee (23/25). For her second song, Katharine reprised "Over The Rainbow." She sang it slower and breathier than the first time she sang it (last week). She hit a clunker of a note on the second to last "birds fly" but otherwise sang it about as well as she did last week. But again I ask, why is she sitting? This has to look awkward to the home viewer. Simon said it was Kat's best performance of the competition. Which means, unfortunately, that there is nowhere to go but down from here. See how song performance order matters?

Katharine McPhee (19/25). For her third and final song, Katharine sang "My Destiny," which will be her first single. The key seemed too low for her at the start, and she stumbled her way through the opening. She was very pitchy after the modulation. This sounded like the perfect song for Kermit The Frog to sing, but not for Katharine. Then again, she was wearing a green dress. This is the problem with having the AI original song sung last. Simon said she went from great with her second song to very good with this song. I had to change my rule about not giving a score below 20 tonight, as I thought this was, by far, the worst of the night.

[P]erhaps [Katharine] was intimidated by the large stage.

Who is the most accurate American Idol blogger/pundit?

Erik's Chart of American Idol Pundits
Pundit Bottom 2-3 Accuracy Bottom One Accuracy Weighted Total Accuracy
Power Dialers @ 87% (13 for 15) 71% (5 for 7) 82% (18 for 22)
Augie De Blieck Jr. @ Various and Sundry American Idol 73% (11 for 15) 57% (4 for 7) 68% (15 for 22)
Erik @ Erik J. Heels 80% (12 for 15) 43% (3 for 7) 68% (15 for 22)
Joe Reality @ Reality TV Magazine 80% (12 for 15) 43% (3 for 7) 68% (15 for 22)
Jennifer @ The Woes and the Prose of an American Idol Junkie 87% (13 for 15) 29% (2 for 7) 68% (15 for 22)
Dave @ High Lord Dave's Blog 67% (10 for 15) 57% (4 for 7) 64% (14 for 22)
Ken Barnes @ USATODAY 67% (10 for 15) 57% (4 for 7) 64% (14 for 22)
DJSlim (Brent Natzle) @ American Idol Season 5 Blog 60% (9 for 15) 29% (2 for 7) 50% (11 for 22)
Flipping A Coin 50% 50% 50%
Simon Cowell @ American Idol NA 29% (2 for 7) 29% (2 for 7)
Web Searchers @ – Most Searched American Idol Contestants no historical data no historical data no historical data
Web Searchers @ Google Trends no historical data no historical data no historical data
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Interesting facts re: Taylor Hicks' song choices performed on AI and how they rated.

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Front pages for May 25, 2006, from newspapers across North America on Taylor Hicks' victory. (Sorted alphabetically by state.!i=71545610&k=VShQZKQ

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