Mirror TV Critic
Nearly a week after the miraculous American Idol finale which handed the top prize to the charismatic but odd Taylor Hicks, it has become apparent that many people out there claim Taylor as their “favorite.” This is a gross distortion of the facts as I know them. After all, I spotted him first. He was my favorite from the beginning. And I’m not giving that up for anything, people.
There have been Idol winners in the past who truly deserved to win – Kelly Clarkson, of course, and Fantasia Barrino. But Taylor was different from all of them. For once, a contestant with not only real soul in his heart but some real knowledge of music history and taste for what is a good song and what is a forgettable one.
From the moment he walked into the audition room, harmonica in hand, grey hair on top and a kind of twitchy way of moving and speaking – it seemed clear that Hicks was destined for ridicule and a hasty Idol exit. He was already a singer but not a successful one. What about him seemed marketable? Nothing. He was unlike any contestant to ever appear in the contest. But what a voice.
The day of the Idol finale, people around town were buzzing about the contest. Two women at a Coffee Bean were adamant: “He better win” one said to the other. And when I turned and said “Soul Patrol” they gave a whoop and a cheer.
You have to love a contest where people can speak up for what we like most rather than always taking what the record companies decide we want. What record executive would have even listened to or considered Hicks if he hadn’t been so popular on American Idol? For one thing, early on, no one could figure out what was going with him – an amazing singer, a strange way of moving and talking – finally being lampooned on Saturday Night Live. What was the deal?
Turned out, it didn’t matter what the deal was. If Hicks was an autistic savant or someone on the spectrum, no one seemed to think twice about it. If he was a white Ray Charles, no one ever called him out. The truth about him was that you couldn’t take your eyes off of him from the moment he appeared on camera. He was the only contestant who got the idea that music and performing is about connecting with the audience. He was the only one who sang songs that made you want to hum them all day long. (How many of you had to go and listen to Elton John’s “Levon” after Hicks sang it?)
But let’s get this straight, folks. I saw him first! Hicks was the only contestant I ever voted for consistently from week one. He was the only reason I tuned in week after week and he is the only contestant, aside from perhaps Barrino, to make the Idol competition seem like more worthwhile than the silliness it’s been in the past few years. Finally, he is the only Idol whose CD I will happily buy and not be embarrassed to play it, and sing to it, in my car.
Could it be that Americans aren’t as stupid as everyone’s been saying? Could it be that we actually do know what we’re doing in picking our American Idol? That we don’t like them cocky or dynamic or hip and trendy, but rather kind and honest and singing from the heart type? Or could it be that Taylor Hicks just needed an audience and the magic was all his. Stay away from him! He’s mine!