Thursday, April 06, 2006

Reader Feedback Reply to the American Idol and Chris Daughtry “Walk the Line” Controversy

Greetings Music Fans,

I’ve been going through’s feedback mail…

There’s been a lot of commentary during the past couple of weeks about Chris Daughtry’s forgetting to credit Live with the arrangement when he performed “Walk the Line” on
American Idol's ‘50’s night a couple of weeks ago.

Some of you have asked how that affects the performance notes we wrote in the MBADC American Idol Armchair Quarterback, praising his song selection and the arrangement.

Here’s what happened from our point of view at, and why our Armchair Quarterback notes about his performance stand as originally written:

The morning after Chris’s performance of “Walk the Line”, we were reminded that Chris Dughtry's arrangement was actually Live's arrangement. I love Live and had forgotten about their version. (Sorry guys, my bad. Apparently my brain cells' musical encylopedia wasn't working that night.)

I knew from the brewing backlash from Live fans on the Internet that
American Idol had to address it--either by media statement, on Ryan Seacrest's radio show, or on AI. I made the decision to withhold comment on until after their statement, because I felt to do otherwise would be unfairly proclaiming Chris guilty until proven innocent.

It would also be irresponsible of us, since votes are involved.

As you probably know, Ryan Seacrest and Chris corrected the omission during Chris's interview on the next American Idol performance show. After Ryan and Chris made the correction, I added an Editor's note to Chris's performance notes on our '50's Week page, as well as acknowledged it in Chris's performance notes for the next week, for those who didn't see it on the 50's Week page.

You can read the full Editor's Note
here, which should answer part of your question regarding crediting Live. It also offers our best guess at why the omission happened.

As for how this knowledge affects what we wrote about Chris’s song selection and performance…

If we pretend for a moment that Chris had remembered to credit Live with the arrangement, my feelings about the performance and song selection still stand--in this case--for two important reasons:

A. Although the arrangement was word for word, it still works as a song selection and was still the right musical choice because Chris's voice doesn't sound like the guy from Live. Even on the same notes, Chris's voice has a clarity and energy that's unique.

B. Live's version was not a widely known classic with heavy, across the board airplay, so for most people there weren't immediate musical memories attached to it. (I like the band’s work and forgot it myself!)

Had either A. or B. not been the case, and if Chris wasn't unique as an artist, it wouldn't have worked as a song selection, and I'd call it karaoke.

As I said in the Editor's Note, the best musical example I can give is the Joe Cocker version of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends." The Joe Cocker version become a much-covered cover, and pretty much every rock band who ever played a bar in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s has covered the Joe Cocker version. The best renditions were done by people whose voices sounded completely different from Joe Cocker and held the notes differently.

Conversely, although I like Taylor Hicks’ voice a lot, if Taylor tried touring with it, it would sound karaoke, because he sounds like Joe Cocker. (Although for some reason I have the uneasy feeling that when the Top 10 finalists go on tour, we’ll see Taylor singing it. Please, no.)

So, Chris’s version of “Walk the Line” on American Idol was just fine, and our performance notes still stand.

Also, I don’t believe there was any underhanded thinking on Chris’s part with regard to not crediting Live, because he’d gone out of his way to mention another artist’s arrangement in a previous week. It’s live TV, performance nights are especially tight on time, and the contestants are still learning how to express themselves on camera.

That’s why the producers, musical directors, and people who put together the clip explaining his song choice should have made sure that, as a courtesy, Live was credited with the arrangement.

Fortunately, the voting audience didn’t take it out on Chris. I’m glad, because I think he’s an amazing singer.

We now return you to current topics…Were we surprised that Mandisa went home last night? Unfortunately, no. We liked her, but if you read this week’s MBADC Al Armchair Quarterback, you know we weren’t surprised.

Rock on (That was a really cool David Essex song from the ‘70’s, by the way…),

Randi Reed
Founder / Editor in Chief

Copyright 2006 Randi Reed. All rights Reserved.