- Although other winners of "The X-Factor" haven't been given a strong U.S. push...
- Simon Cowell believes that Lewis' "television connection was being overblown in the media. 'I've never signed anyone from Star Search, he said."
- Yet Davis and Cowell designated Lewis as a star-to-be and lined up A-list producers such as Akon and Stargate for her "Spirit."
- As for the criticism that "Idol" and its ilk put technique over artistry, Cowell has heard it. "I worry about this," he said. "I'm interested in the person as well as the talent. . . . I'm not interested in singing robots."
Second, it's her television connection that's selling her. She is a media creation--at least in the U.S., her claim to fame is she won a British talent contest and the guy who runs that show also runs the American version, and he and one of the world's top music producers love her. It's the same as any other American Idols--at first they're sold as a product of the show. If they're lucky, they transcend that.
Third, because she was anointed she gets top producers to replicate a sound that will connect with American audiences, because they're familiar with similar work.
Fourth, the only thing setting Lewis apart right now is that she's shy, making her the polar opposite of the exhibitionistic pop stars that seem to be synonymous with America right now. That could be a major selling point if it's played well and if Lewis was actually interesting, but she's not and no one focuses on that because there's nothing much to say and she would be drowned out. For all we know, she is a robot stylistically. Granted, this isn't fair, as most first albums are based out of a desire to get material out there and please producers; it's often only in follow-ups that true artistry, vision and personality can begin to see the light of day.
It's clear that for whatever reason, Lewis was handpicked and stamped for approval for Americans, and because she had big-name backers she became a star. But not really. Her numbers are inflated. How many people really like her? We don't know anything about the girl, except that she's shy. Since her album just came out, the reviews will follow soon, but the only people talking are ones connected to her. No one saying anything about the music, just that she's talented and she like certain other American stars. So? That's nothing. It's empty praise, much like her music.
Ever wonder why that band you love just cannot seem to ever really get the exposure they need? It's because they usually don't have enough marketing dollars at their disposal.
Artists bitch and moan about how unfairly treated they are by the industry, how discriminated they are for whatever reason, and many listeners will just nod their heads. But it's true. Even an artist as celebrated as Kelly Clarkson complained that she wasn't given the proper push behind her last album, My December, because she and Clive Davis notoriously butted heads over the musical direction. Guess what? The album bombed. The best cut from the album, "Sober", wasn't even released as a single, which is a shame. Instead, the first (and only?) single was the very depressing "Never Again", accompanied by a dark, angry video that clashed with the effervescent Clarkson's personality, and the label barely bothered a follow-up, thinking there was no point. ("Sober" might be listed as a single in the link, but the fact that there's no video and virtually no radio play belies this fact.)
And this is the original American Idol we're talking about.
At a time when major labels have trimmed their rosters and their staff, Lewis represents a carefully handled safe bet. Lewis, and the string of "Idol" artists who have come before her, are representative of an extremely risk-averse major label climate, one where artist development means winning a contract on a television show.