If you believe what Ryan Seacrest announced on May 24, Taylor Hicks is the new “American Idol.” Question is — will he sell CDs? There is no doubt that Taylor’s vocal stylings-a bit of Joe Cocker mixed in with Michael McDonald-are unique in today’s musical landscape. But the challenge is how do you market him? Kelly Clarkson — inarguably the franchise’s most successful graduate — was a lot easier. Her first album was pop-oriented with songs that fit neatly on the very tightly structured Top 40 formats. Likewise, last year’s winner, Carrie Underwood, was instantly embraced by country radio. But Taylor’s place is a bit more nebulous. He’s a rocker who won a talent contest. That could hurt the street cred that rock ‘n roll is built on — and shut him out of the ever-dwindling and narrowly focused rock radio formats. He definitely could find a home on Hot AC (adult formats) but that audience is older and less likely to buy CDs. MTV skews towards hip hop and teeny-bopper pop at this point. There’s always VH1-where he could exist comfortably-but that channel rarely plays videos anymore. Of course, it’s possible to sell millions without the support of radio or music television as second season runner up Clay Aiken did a couple of years ago and as last year’s runner up Bo Bice is doing now-though to a lesser extent. But it sure does help. And Taylor — who signed to Arista Records — does have the benefit of working with legendary Clive Davis who has built a career on crafting hits. Bottom line — it’ll depend on what producers he is paired with and what material he chooses. The right combination-and this is where Clive is key-could produce a career artist with a long road ahead. Think Rob Thomas or Nickelback. Both are rockers that have found places in mainstream pop. Taylor’s voice is certainly as goo — if not better — than either. And he certainly has a very appealing stage presence. All he needs is the right song at the right time.
Copyright 2015 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.