Taylor Hicks On Ellen DeGeneres: “Her Jokes Are Funnier Than Simon’s”

Taylor Hicks (Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

Taylor Hicks (Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

With the current season of ‘American Idol‘ still in the early stages, it’s too soon to tell who the next Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood might be. Back in 2006, the singer who emerged from the pack and won the whole thing was Taylor Hicks who wooed voters with his energetic versions of classic rock, soul and R&B songs.

His winning season is currently being relived on ‘Idol Rewind’ which includes present-day interviews with Hicks and his fellow contestants who included Chris Daughtry, Kellie Pickler, Elliott Yamin, Katharine McPhee and Ace Young. The 33-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama has not achieved the commercial success of some of the other past contestants, but he has worked steadily since winning the crown and still seems to be having the time of his life.

Hicks called Fancast from Schenectady, NY, where he is performing in the touring production of ‘Grease’ as Teen Angel. He will wrap up his work with ‘Grease’ in May after 18 months including a stint on Broadway. He’s currently got a CD ‘The Distance’ out on his own Modern Whomp Records label.

Hi Taylor! How’s life as a Teen Angel been treating you?
I never thought in a million years I’d actually star in a Broadway production. It’s one of the things you never think about. You utilize strengths like live performing and music. It’s been a blast. It’s been great to tour the country.

So it’s finally your turn to be featured on ‘Idol Rewind.’ Is it as fun for you to look back at them as it is for the audience?
When that show comes back on and you see some of it, you realize what an amazing experience it was to go through all that. I’m kind of biased and I like to say my season was the best season.

That was quite a season with Katherine McPhee, Elliot Yamin and Chris Daughtry all in the top four. Do you keep in touch with them and the other contestants?
We do keep in contact with each other, When someone has a new record or endeavor, we like to congratulate them. I hope the very best for them.

It’s been four years now since you all did the show. Does it seem like that long ago?
It’s been so busy. I’ve been on the road the past four years touring. It does seem like yesterday since I got off the show.

What do you think when you watch some of those old episodes?
I don’t think I would change anything musically but definitely some of my shirts that I wore I would have changed. I think the paisley shirt for ‘Play That Funky Music White Boy’ was probably the ugliest shirt I ever wore in my whole life. I went out on my own on that one, I picked it.

When you were in the thick of the competition, did you always think to yourself: ‘I could win this whole thing’ ?
I  played it week by week. I think the one thing I was very aware of was the music part. It was picking songs a lot of people could sing to and dance to and like.

Well, ‘Idol’ remains so popular and really launched Adam Lambert last year. What do you think of him?
I think he definitely has his own style. I do tell people that when you’re on the show, it’s a TV show so people are going to see you visually more so than they will see you musically. I definitely think he involved theatrics into his performances which created from a visual perspective some things people could see. He’s also a good singer.

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What are your thoughts on the departure of Paula Abdul and the arrival of Ellen DeGeneres at the judges table?
Paula was an integral part of the show and she definitely brought entertainment value to the show. I think we’ll all miss Paula being a judge. But I think Ellen will be good and I’m really excited to hear some of her opinions. I also think her jokes are funnier than Simon’s.

Speaking of Simon, he’s announced that he’s leaving the show after this season. Can ‘Idol’ survive without him?
I definitely think the show will survive without him, it’s not about the judges. It’s about the contestants you see grow in front of you on TV. It’s the American dream still and it is alive on American Idol. All the judges can be a revolving door and will be fine with Ellen, Randy (Jackson) and Kara (DioGuardi). The idea of the contestants performing is what makes ‘American Idol’ great.

Simon never did seem to like you. Why do you think that was?
Maybe I was American and he was British? I think that was the best season. It isn’t Simon Cowell making my career, it’s the fans. I think that’s what every contestant oughta go in thinking.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.


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