brent johnson looks at former idol winner taylor hicks and how his unique look and style paved the way for the likes of adam lambert and siobhan magnus …
She has the booming, belting voice. The off-kilter fashion sense. The dramatic stage presence. And last week’s rendition of the Stones’ ‘Paint It, Black’ on American Idol proved it: Siobhan Magnus has the potential to be the female version of Adam Lambert. The judges have even pointed the comparison out.
But that got me thinking: There wouldn’t be a Magnus or a Lambert on Idol without Taylor Hicks.
Hicks is the most forgotten Idol winner. Even runners-up like Clay, Daughtry and Doolittle have more clout these days. Hicks? His post-Idol resume include a pair of little-bought albums and a cameo stint in the revival of Grease on Broadway (and the world tour).
But Taylor Hicks had grey hair. He looked almost 40. He sounded like Joe Cocker’s stepchild.
In other words, he showed you didn’t have to look or even sound like an Idol to be an Idol. And that’s what Adam Lambert and Siobhan Magnus are showing once again — only this time, with more flair and thrill than Hicks ever had.
That’s not to say watching Hicks wasn’t fun. It was a ball. He was part of Idol’s greatest year: Season 5. The Top 5 was stacked — so much so that future rock star Chris Daughtry finished fourth. Ahead of him: the gawky but endearing Elliott Yamin, the stunning and pretty-voiced Katherine McPhee and Hicks. Among the other contestants were future country stars Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington.
But while McPhee was gorgeous and worthy, Hicks was exciting. He was a total cheeseball, but he danced around the stage with goofy glee and sang with surprising grit in his voice. So what if he called his fans the Soul Patrol? So what if Simon Cowell hated him, comparing him to an annoying wedding singer?
The problem was: Hicks’ performances only worked well in the context of a talent competition. It was intriguing to tune in to see what songs Hicks would sing — to see a white-haired white guy tackle Stevie Wonder’s ‘Living For The City’ with such aplomb. It was intriguing to see if THIS guy could actually win American Idol.
Once he did win and took his Soul Patrol into the real world? Well, there wasn’t much of a patrol anymore. Hicks suddenly seemed kind of one-note. His cheesiness became more apparent. Once he had to hold his own and not stave off the other contestants, he wasn’t as interesting.
But I still like him. I like that he opened up the Idol field to less predictable people. I like that he didn’t care what others thought.
And I like that he was genuine. That’s something Adam Lambert didn’t seem to be: It was always a question whether Lambert’s screeching glam was partly a gimmick.
It’s yet to be seen if Magnus will have the some problem. But so far, she actually appears to be more Hicks-like than Lambert-like. Something tells me she’s just a quirky white person, too.