Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Best of Times~Taylor Hicks' "Hollywood Nights"

It was the best of times. The world was new.

The 2006 American Idol tour was complete, and the fall days were filled with exciting anticipation.

Newly-crowned American Idol, Taylor Hicks, was in the studio in California recording his victory album for Arista. He talked of this time as one of the happiest in his life, when he could smell the ocean from his open window in the morning.

“Hollywood Nights” was our anthem!

There was no twitter. Fans stayed connected through fan boards and media interviews. And for a short time, Friday Night Happy Hour was seeing a new release by Taylor Hicks from the studio for

“Hollywood Nights” created a sensation!

It would have blown up Twitter, if Twitter had been around.

It was a rehearsal, raw, imperfect, and excitingly real! Jeff Lopez, from back home in Alabama and longtime band mate of Taylor Hicks, played saxophone like there would never be another California sunset. “Hollywood Nights” also proved that music is perfect in its imperfections. Taylor changed (flubbed?) the words, added expletives, and fiddled with his ear piece. But this performance takes you from a rehearsal hall to a place higher than the Hollywood Hills.

It was real, like life…sometimes horribly imperfect, but exhilarating.

Taylor was riding the crest of success finally achieving the long elusive dream of finding his voice. On May 24th that year, he was star of the most watched and most popular show on the planet—American Idol Finale, Season Five.

“Hollywood Nights” screamed, “Yes, I Can!”

For the fans seeing this raucous, in-your-face recording, it was affirmation that we were right, and we were in for the ride of our lives!

A few weeks later, December 9, 2006, Taylor Hicks, the album, was released. It was certified platinum on January 17, 2007.

So much has happened since that Friday night when “Hollywood Nights,” took our breath away. So much has changed.

Except the passionate and sensational music.  

Twitter would have received “Hollywood Nights” in its signature, succinct style:


Which says it pretty well. 

And life has never been the same for the Southern boy “looking down on the lights of LA.”

Nor for us!


Thanks to @Sweetsmoke on Twitter for taking us back and reminding us of the not so boring and in no way anemic performance of Taylor Hicks’ “Hollywood Nights!”

The sensational music of Taylor Hicks is alive and well at Paris Las Vegas throughout 2013! See it for yourself!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Taylor Hicks ~~ Turning Around for the Music!

Can the singing competition shows stay true to the music?

I say I won’t, but this time of the year I get hooked on the singing competitions. Sometimes my ears hurt.

Although I’m an avid reader of music blogger, Bob Lefsetz, I didn’t agree recently when he said that the worst singers were on TV—the singing competitions. I don’t think they are the worst singers. I think they are wrongly presented because it all blurs together into who can wear the coolest ensemble, hit the highest, loudest notes, and hold them the longest. It’s all about the show.

And my ears hurt. Music is not all ‘glory notes.’

I even disagree, to a degree, with Taylor Hicks who has said that the competitions are visual…you have to be visual.

Often, I am sitting here and listening to TV. If I turn around to look, it’s for a good sound. It’s not stunning ensembles, short and sexy. That’s the premise that I first liked with The Voice—the blind auditions. It made sense for a singing competition. But after the chairs turn, it’s a show. It’s a competition to stage, dress, make over, and show an over-the-top, brighter and louder-than-the-other-guy stage extravaganza. Have you seen some of those killer shoes? 

Wait…this is a singing competition.  Why do I remember shoes?

Okay, entertainment is about the whole package, but the package is here and gone if the music isn’t at the center. Yes, Taylor Hicks put on a show on Idol. He rolled on the floor with Ryan Seacrest, danced with Paula Abdul, and sat on the steps singing Elvis’ “In the Ghetto.”

What was said to be his best performance on Idol? “In the Ghetto!” No theatrics, just a song done with passion.

That’s what I long to see in the competitions—a singer that connects with the music and the listeners. You don’t have to be sitting in the front row to know it.  You can be America sitting at home turning around.

As American Idol hopefuls dwindled from 20 to 10, I said I thought the girls had it this year. In the first week of the final ten, three girls were the top vote getters.

I like Kree. Forget sequins and shoes; this girl doesn’t need them. She is real. Her voice connects immediately. She is singing music she knows and loves, and that comes through. It’s a little like listening to Adele. She and the music become one. You turn around.

And I turned around when I heard Burnell. If the guys have a front runner, I think he is it.

I do agree with Mr. Hicks when he says that song choice is important. I hope the singers can make the right choices to showcase their voices and persona, but music with which they can connect—music that will be remembered.

Can we keep singing in the singing competitions? I mean no disrespect to any of them, but I frankly don’t care who the judges are. And I know that TV is about ratings. It’s too bad.

Singing competitions should be about the music. That sounds so right.

I hope America votes for the singer and the music that resonates with them…who they would turn around for.

Can we keep it real?

To all those who bring their dreams to this year’s competitions…

Hang your star on the music; it will serve you best.

If you have a Plan B, go straight to it.

If you have no Plan B and music is your life, your dream, take it from the Idol winner who inspires this place:

“Never give up.”

He didn’t when it would have been easy to…when he auditioned in Las Vegas. Now, he’s headlining there.

Take any gig. Winning is about doing what you love to do.

Keep your dreams. Keep the music.

And, as the outstanding Season Five American Idol finalist, Elliott Yamin, said,

“Sing like you mean it!”

Good luck!

Season Five American Idol winner, Taylor Hicks, keeps the music alive in his headlining gig at Paris Las Vegas.

Yes, he wears some pretty cool shirts and the boots are bad, but this show is all about the music! Check it out. Rave reviews mean shows are selling out. Get your tickets and see how this Idol does music!

Idol, back then: Taylor Hicks: “In The Ghetto”

Top Photo and video: Courtesy of FOX  and American Idol.

The fine print: Opinions expressed here are those of the writer.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Connections A Million Miles Away: Music and a Cat

Life can be so complicated. Yet, at its core, its heart, it may be as simple as music and a cat.

Pope Benedict XVI gave a last blessing to the Faithful and flew away in a white helicopter to a new life of quietude. He will take along his beloved piano and his cat. I was surprised to learn that he is an accomplished pianist and music lover.

My first connection with faith and with music was growing up in a small, white country church in the South. It was a million miles away from the Vatican.

I had never felt a connection to this great leader of people. He suddenly became real to me.

I wondered to a friend what kind of music he loves. I perhaps wrongly assumed classical and opera.

It’s funny the things you remember from school. I will never forget studying opera in junior high. That’s right. Many years ago, I had a wonderful teacher who thought the classics and opera were important to our education. We learned the tragic story of Aida and listened to the music. We knew “Carmen” and could sing “Torrr.reee.a.dorr!” In high school choir, we sang in Latin.

The music blogger, Bob Lefsetz, has said several times that music, done right, is life itself.

It is a global connection across cultures, time, and faiths.

Taylor Hicks has said it’s not about how many records you sell; it’s about how many lives you touch.

Music touches our lives. Not just in sounds and words, but in connections, sometimes unexpectedly. It is the soundtrack of our lives taking us through rough times and celebrating the good times. And it is that which we may come back to in quiet times.

I was reminded that music is a connection when there seems to be no other. I will remember the Pope Emeritus now living a quiet life…

With his music and his cat and wish him all the peace and joy they may bring.

Thanks to Benedict, now Pope Emeritus, for an unexpected connection, a friend who shares her deep faith, Taylor Hicks who inspires us with his music, and the funny cat that shares my space!

Connections all, which make my life brighter!

What connections enrich your life?

You can connect with roadhouse soul! Taylor Hicks, Season Five American Idol, headlines at Paris Las Vegas connecting with audiences at Napoleon’s Lounge.


His music has enriched my life.  I’d make a Vegas bet that it will enrich yours too...