~ Like the ripples in a pond, the work of one man spreads out and touches the lives of others ~

From The Soul of One ~ To The Hearts Of Many
Taylor Hicks "The Distance"

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Shades of American Idol Season 5

"Here's one thing I've learned: I wasn't born to play arenas.
Everything I've learned about music is about making a connection, and at least for me, a giant arena is not the best place to make a connection.
Performing is a relationship between you and your audience, and in that relationship less can definitely be more.
Singing in an arena, it takes much longer to feel the energy of the crowd and feed off that energy.
That shared energy is what I hunger for.
So, if I had my dream in all its fine-tuned glory, it would be to play great theaters and clubs for the rest of my life."

~ Taylor Hicks from 'Heart Full of Soul' ~

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"I love blues and soul music. I love the honesty of it; the raw quality of it and the connection you get with the crowd.
That's why I love performing in smaller, intimate places."

~ Sebastian Pigott ~

As I am cruising along the road of this year's Canadian Idol, I can't help but reflect back on the journey of Taylor Hicks on American Idol Season 5. Taylor, too, had his fair or not so fair share of critical judgements.
In his book, 'Heart Full of Soul', when he reflected back to that time, Taylor has this to say about the Idol experience:

"It's also a whole lot of work, and you don't really know how the job is going to pay until it's over."
"In the end, all I ever tried to do was entertain people - that's what I did in the clubs, and that's what I did in those first months of 2006 for the millions who didn't want to leave the comfort of their living rooms.
When you're an entertainer, it's your great privilege to touch people's lives in a distant and yet seemingly personal way."

And, then there were 10 ...

Week 4, July 14, 2008, was the beginning of the Top 10 performances on Canadian Idol. As promised, Canadian Idol came through with more firsts. It started with a brand new set which should give the performers a lot of room to move around on.

The first contestant of the night was Drew Wright who performed his song while playing the drums. The judges said it was the first time that anyone had played the drums while singing. Adam Castelli's entrance onstage riding a motorcycle was another first on this show. The fact that there are only two female contestants in the Top 10 is another first.

This was David Bowie Week and since I have never been a huge Bowie fan, I found it somewhat difficult to appreciate this type of music. All of the contestants put their best efforts forward and some, more than others, received some harsh criticism from the judges.

Sebastian Pigott performed David Bowie's version of "Let's Spend the Night Together". (I must say that I always liked the original Rolling Stones' version of this song though.)

video: Sebastian Pigott ~ "Let's Spend the Night Together"

I loved the way Sebastian started the first part of the song and I would have been really happy if he had performed the entire song that way. In the first part of the song, he sang each word in an intimate and charismatic way. The audience certainly loved his performance, I liked it too!

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The judges, on the other hand, were, in my opinion, extremely harsh and critical of Sebastian's presentation of the song. Now, this is where I get confused since I am only a TV viewer and not a musician.

For a Blues and Soul man, wouldn't it be challenging to sing a David Bowie song? Aren't the contestants encouraged to make the song their own and be themselves?

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Sebastian stood there and took the criticism with a smile on his face and, at times, looked very perplexed. Sebastian was trying to understand what it was that they didn't like - what they were trying to say. I don't think he was really given a definitive answer and I have to wonder what the judges had for dinner because they were harshly critical of many of the contestants' performances, some just and some unfairly.

One of the things I like about Nashville Star is that the judges mentor the contestants week -to- week and they provide detailed feedback to Nashville Star contestants so that they can "build" the next "Star".

In all fairness, perhaps the Canadian Idol contestants do have the opportunity to have discussions with the judges after the show. If not, then perhaps both American Idol and Canadian Idol should take a page from the Nashville Star book. Sebastian was looking for constructive criticism and advice so that he could improve on Week 5 and he didn't get what he was looking for.

"Maybe the reason I like soul music so much is that is inspires with its pain.
The best artists, like Ray Charles, reach out and say,
"You're not alone, brother."

~ Taylor Hicks from 'Heart Full of Soul' ~

video: Taylor Hicks - "Just Once" - Love Songs Week

Personally, I loved the way that Taylor performed "Just Once" and he looked awesome too. Talk about pouring your heart and soul into a song. He did it that night and I still listen to the song today.
I still can't understand why the responses from the judges were so negative. It seemed to me as if they already knew what they were going to say about his performance before we had even heard his first note.

Today's Idol audiences are much more savvy when they "judge" the contestants and thank goodness, it is their fingers that will be doing the dialing this week.

Sebastian, you were "you" and stayed true to yourself.
For the record, I enjoyed your performance. You did the best you could with what you were given and I am sure that you will receive the support from your fans.

Today's cup:

"To be a true artist you have to play the way you feel - not the way others think you should feel."
~ Don Ellis ~


Bloom said...

I love the route you've taken us on across the border to Canada, and I'm enjoying all of the wonderful connections!
It's been fun to make another 'trip' together!

Season 5 of American Idol was the only season for me!
It's no big secret that Taylor Hicks was what kept me drawn to the show and the only reason for tuning in.

Most times I found myself tuning out what the judges had to say about Taylor's performances though. I'd gotten to the point of pretty much guessing what kind of comment we could expect from each of the judges.

The coments they made for Taylor's "Just Once" floored me though. It was a great performance, he sang the song beautifully and his voice was just full of passionate emotion. In fact I think his version would make a superb movie soundtrack.

I am in total agreement with you, I believe that the judges knew what they were going to say before Taylor even sang the first note.
AI had given Taylor grief from the beginning on his song choice for Love Song Week, not allowing his first pick, then poo-pooing his second choice.

Which brings me to the comments made to Sebastian by the Canadian judges. I am not familiar with your judges, or the type of comments they usually give, but I found their comments pretty inane!

David Bowie's music is not my kind of music. Like Sebastian and Taylor ... I too prefer blues and soul music, so I can't really make a constructive comment on how well Sebastian did on his arrangement.
I am impressed with the way in which he handled their criticism!

Results are in and Sebastian made it through to the next week!
Karin,I'm looking forward to the next leg of our 'trip'.

Go get 'em Sebastian!

KarinP said...

Yes, indeed, Sebastian made it through to next week. I think that the music of David Bowie was difficult for most of the contestants.


I am looking forward to next week where the music of "departed Rock 'n Rollers" will be featured.

It could prove to be quite enjoyable since I suspect that Elvis' music would definitely be in that category.

I think that sometimes the comments from the judges could have another purpose. Perhaps it is a method used to encourage more people to vote. The time of year is also a detriment to getting people to vote. Most people are outside enjoying the beautiful weather on a Monday night and they are not sitting inside watching television.

I hope that the hometowns of the contestants will support them by generating the votes.

Let's see what next week brings to the table.