Today, fill your cup of life with sunshine and laughter.
~Dodinsky


29 October 2006

A NEW VIEW

Ok, criticism is not my forte, but with all the recent movement in Taylor Hicks' career, I have had some thoughts that will not silence themselves, even though I've waited a week since I first had them. Feel free to agree or disagree with me at will, since this is simply my opinion, and has no influence on anybody anyway.

Rehearsals.com is a great forum for artists who want to get their music out there asap, and I think Taylor is a smart and savvy businessman for keeping himself in the public eye in this way. Whether or not it was his decision, it was a good one. Now, as for what's on there, currently there are three, and I'd just like to jot down my impressions of each. Like I said, you may or may not agree with my opinion. But honestly, who's going to read them here, anyway? A few of my friends, maybe a couple of random people. That's it.

Ok, gonna tackle my favorite of the three first: a cover of a Marvin Gaye classic "What's Going On". Saying this is my favorite is actually a bit misleading, since there's plenty about this clip that I didn't like. At the beginning, there's a bit of joking around between Taylor and the musicians, which actually makes this even better when Taylor really starts to sing, because the velvety tone that comes out in the intro is OUTSTANDING. I literally get chills up my spine every time I listen to it. Those long notes at the beginning, with just a hint of vibrato, showcase the characteristic "Taylor" that captivated so many of us throughout season five of American Idol. That man has incredible pipes, I'm telling you, and this intro is riveting with its stamp of Taylor's musicality! Unfortunately, the remainder of the clip isn't so great. My main complaint is that that once the tempo picks up, Taylor's vocal becomes so fragmented that you lose all sense of both the melody and the lyrics which become, for the most part, unrecognizable. He even loses it for a few notes (right after he says "escalate it"), and is so far off the melody, he's not even in tune with the band. Don't try and tell me this is Taylor's take on the piece, either, because he bails on it a couple measures later until he gets it back together (listen for the little roll of his tongue for the end of that mess). Another unfortunate decision in this arrangement was placing two admittedly excellent solo parts (keyboard, then alto sax) back to back, thus reducing Taylor's vocal part to almost a background role for the remainder of the piece. I thought that a harmonica solo would've been a better fit than the sax solo, anyway, and it would've served to keep the focus where it belonged - on Taylor. Hey, Taylor, don't get me wrong. I think this song has real potential and is a great fit for your voice but I think that, in your attempts at individualizing the song, you have taken it a bit too far and need to bring back the melodic sense and the lyrics as they were meant to be heard.

Now for "Hell Of A Day". Ok, given that Taylor wrote this song, it surprises me that I didn't think it was a better fit for his vocal abilities. The range of notes is too limiting for a man who has as great a voice as Taylor's. He does perform the song well, other than the annoying habit he has developped of cutting off the last word in each phrase by backing away from the microphone but, all in all, I found this clip to be a bit boring and predictable. I think Taylor needs to approach this song in the way he did the Marvin Gaye cover, and look for a fresher way of presenting it.

"Hollywood Nights" ... I've listened to this one fewer times than the others, because it hasn't been up as long, but that just means my impressions are newer. First, this one is where I was the most impressed with the band. Loved the sax intro and the electric guitar solo near the end. Neither is overpowering, as the solos tended to be in the other two selections. Major problem with this clip is that Taylor oversings through most of it, to the point that his voice cracks a couple of times. Hey, Taylor, I want you to have a long and rewarding career, but if you abuse your voice, you're gonna lose it, man, so be careful, ok? I again noticed his annoying habit of cutting off phrases by withdrawing from the mic, too. That's going to be a real teeth-grinder for me, I can tell. Another issue is going to be a bit touchy for some of the people that might read this, but it's one I feel I need to address. Notice on rehearsals.com that the clip comes with an "explicit" label? That's from Taylor uttering the F-bomb twice in the song. I'm not arguing his right to self-express, but I don't want to see Taylor's potential audience being reduced by the appearance of "explicit" labels on his cd's. It's ok for live performances, but being as it's not part of the original lyrics anyway, perhaps he should've edited himself when being recorded.

Just my humble opinion, folks.

7 comments:

Sueann said...

hmmm...I liked Hollywood Nights. It's my favorite so far. The other 2 are brilliant as well. Tough to make a choice when it is Taylor singing...he is so incredible! Can not wait for his album!
HUGS!

Anonymous said...

I had this problem (backing from the mic) during that show he did in Salt Lake City this past summer (the military show)..he did it all the time and it is something that will lose him new fans when they can not follow the song..I also thought the Marvin Gaye song was disjointed in spots...

Aristotle Jackson said...

I agree with you, even on the lyrics -- they don't seem a natural fit at that point in the song --
PEACE

cathy hancock said...

Can't say as I agree with you totally, but I do concur with regard to the mic withdrawal cutting off the last words. Other than that, this is just a rehearsal ... he will not swear in a recording....in a live performance it might slip, but so what. It is not "what he does" or "who he is" , it is just "what he feels" in a particular moment.
I also agree that I enjoyed What's Goin On the best of the three so far. I however, liked the improv; whether it was done to cover an error or intentionally for effect. The man can make his vocals sound like instruments...
Being a band singer, he is in the habit of giving time and recognition to his band...will this change with time...I doubt it, Taylor is into the entire musical piece, not just his part in it. He enjoys sharing the limelight with the musicians who accompany him because he really respects their abilities.
Really enjoyed your blog.

julie said...

I appreciate your thoughts on these rehearsals, Coco. I haven't taken the time to REALLY listen to them and I thank you for bringing it to my attention.

Hugs honey!!!

Travis said...

Thanks for your thoughts Coco. I haven't developed an opinion on the rehearsals - I've only watched the first two clips once and haven't looked at the last one.

I'm curious about the covers though. I realize he can't put any of the new material from the CD out yet, but I'd sure like to know that he's working on more original stuff for the upcoming tour. Covers are nice, especially when they are done well or when he brings something a little new to them. But I'm starved for the original stuff.

Sue said...

Coco,
I have to say I'm glad to see that you, too, can be objective where Taylor is concerned. You pointed out most of the problems that I have with those songs.
What's Going On is a classic that deserves more respect than it got in this performance. The lyrics were so broken that the meaning and feelings were completely lost.
HOAD-Taylor's own, was just a little boring. It was performed without the emotion you hear on the original cd. And it seems to be the only song that he doesn't change up with each performance. It's too predictable.
The only problem I had with Hollywood Nights was the insertion of the profanity. Taylor's explanation that it just comes out made me nervous. If it wasn't deliberate, if that language sometimes just pours out of him, how can anyone be sure it won't happen on stage with young people in the audience. I would have preferred that he had done it deliberately for the shock value. The children in my family love Taylor and have supported him thus far, but I will not be able to take them to one of his concerts, on the off chance that this language might slip into his performance. And I think that's very sad.
I don't think we have to worry about it on his cds, because they can be edited. It's the live concert tour that will lose fans.

Slideshow