Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lewis, One of 2007's Hottest Bachelors

Well, he didn't make the cover like Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks did last year, but Blake Lewis needn't hide his sexy head in shame. People magazine has named Lewis one of 2007's Hottest Bachelors, in their issue of the same name that hits the stands tomorrow featuring Matthew McConaughey on the cover.

The magazine's Web site says that the "American Idol" runner-up admits that, deep down, he's the sensitive type: "I'm the dozen roses kind of guy. I've done some serenading. In an intimate setting singing to a girl is beautiful."

What does Lewis look for in a woman? Independence, spontaneity, a heart of soul; someone who can take care of herself and is not too needy, is attractive ("there's got to be some chemistry"), likes to have fun and "likes cheesy white guys, like myself."

The biggest turn off? Someone who whines and complains a lot, is negative, pessimistic ("I'm very optimistic, focused and driven").

You can watch a video of the People photo shoot of Blake Lewis here.


Included in a USA Today article titled "They sing to their dads' tunes" was Sesaon 6 semi-finalist Sundance Head and his day, singer Roy Head.

The offspring: A 2007 American Idol Top 24 finalist, Sundance, 28, impressed judges with a performance of Bobby Blue Bland's "Stormy Monday." A blues shouter by nature, he plans to record an album of R&B duets with fellow Idol contestant Sabrina Sloan.

The springboard: Roy, 66, had a No. 2 hit in 1965 with "Treat Her Right," a horn-drenched rave-up that practically defined the notion of blue-eyed soul. A dancer who could hang with the likes of James Brown and Jackie Wilson, the elder Head also had a string of minor country hits during the '70s and early '80s and still tears it up on the oldies circuit.

How dad was instrumental: "As soon as I realized I couldn't be the showman that he was, I decided to play guitar," Sundance says. "That way, I didn't have to move. I started out using the guitar as a shield, but I ended up being pretty good at it."

On Idol, "they were giving us a song a day to learn. I called Dad and said, 'I've gone over (this song) so many times that I don't even know what it is anymore.' He said, 'You're over-studying it. If you're on stage and you forget the lyric, just make up lyrics that sound like the ones you should be singing. If you act like nothing's wrong, nobody will even notice it.' That got me through the L.A. auditions."


In a story about Season 5 semi-finalist Ayla Brown, says:

She may have missed making it into the top 12 on season four of "American Idol" by one spot, but former contestant Ayla Brown has still managed to stay in the public eye over the past year. Eighteen-year-old Brown has done a number of live performances in support of her debut album, "Forward," which was released last October via Double Deal Brand Records, and she is also a prominent member of Boston College's women's basketball team.

"It's really important to me to be able to sing as well as play basketball," says the Wrentham, Mass., native. She adds that although she wasn't one of the 12 finalists on "Idol," she's pleased with how everything turned out. "At first I was devastated because I didn't know where my life, musically, would lead me. I thought, 'I'm gonna go play basketball now; there's going to be no music in my life.' I really just thought that I wasn't ready for it. But after 'Idol,' I was offered [the chance] to make a CD, and I saw that as a door opening up. Thank goodness I took it, and now I'm able to do both."

"Forward" features songs penned by Diane Warren, Tommy Sims and David Eriksen, among others. Brown co-wrote two songs, "Thanks to You" and "Falling Into You." The album's initial singles, "Know You Better" and "I Quit," were released in September, and the current single, "Forward," is at mainstream AC radio now.

"I love this song," Brown says of the title track. "Mostly because of the bridge -- it comes in with this full chorus of people. It becomes almost this gospel sound." She adds that when performing for a middle school-aged crowd, she always includes the song "Love You Better" because "guys and girls love to get up and dance to that one."

Not only does she want to get tweens out on the dance floor, Brown hopes she serves as a role model to her audience as well. "A lot of younger artists are making bad decisions with their lifestyles," she says. "I really want to be one of those people who says, you can play sports, you can sing, you can be a good student, and no one is going to punish you for it."

This summer, Brown will make a number of public appearances, some of which will feature performances by fellow Massachusetts "Idol" contestant Nick Pedro. The two recently shared the stage at the Jimmy Fund's Scooper Bowl in Boston on June 6.

While there's no set timetable on a follow-up album, Brown says she wants to contribute more as a songwriter the next time around. "At first I didn't really know what the [songwriting] process was about," she admits. "I'd always been a basketball player growing up. But through the process, through 'American Idol,' I learned so much and what you can contribute."

And here are some excerpts from an interview with Brown done last month by The Sun Chronicle:

On who will have a more successful recording career, Blake Lewis or Jordin Sparks: Probably Blake, because he can do reggae and he can do the whole beat boxing thing. I could see him doing that whole contemporary vibe sort of thing and being extremely successful with it. [Jordin] would be successful too. However, we've seen singers like her in the past.

On which Season 6 contestants should have advanced further in the competition: I was disappointed that Stephanie Edwards didn't get put into the top 12, and Sabrina Sloan. I think those two were ones that America really got wrong in the earlier competitions, and I feel like if they had gotten in it would have been a different story.

On who will likely have the most successful career out of the Top 12: I think Chris Richardson will end up being pretty successful just because all the females seem to really, really like him. He's kind of like the next Justin Timberlake ... And I don't want to say Sanjaya [Malakar], but somehow I think Sanjaya's going to come out and be really successful. People can't get enough of him.

On how long the show can remain a ratings juggernaut: Everyone that I talk to, honestly, every single person watches it and none of them seem to be sick of it, and they've been watching it since season one. Based on trends that are happening with voting, people want different (types of contestants) in the competition and that's why they're voting for Sanjaya and Blake and Taylor Hicks. So I don't know if people are rebelling or just want someone obscure and unseen. But honestly I can't see "American Idol" fading out anytime soon.

On the likelihood of Season 6 contestants releasing albums: I'm curious to see how many release albums this year. It just seems as though season five had so many talented people that had the ability to release an album because they were just popular or talented enough. (Bucky Covington, Kellie Pickler, Chris Daughtry and Katharine McPhee have all released relatively high-profile albums since last season).

Her thoughts on her album, "Forward": I'm just so thankful to have the opportunity, and that someone saw the potential in me to make an album, because not all the people in the world get the ability to have that happen to them, so it's really a good feeling.

On what would happen if any of the "American Idol" judges changed: I think if there were judge changes, people wouldn't watch it. And because it's such a popular television show, I don't think "Idol" would take that chance.


MTV interviewed "American Idol" vets Bo Bice and Constantine Maroulis on their CDs, due for release later this year.

So much for striking while the iron's hot. Instead of rushing out an album right after his ouster from the 2005 edition of "American Idol," Constantine Maroulis has spent the past two years indulging his love of musical theater, acting in a soap opera and putting together an empire under his snarkily named Sixth Place Productions banner.

"I'm an actor, I love to host and I'm a singer. I did Broadway, and I produced my own tours and started my own label," said Maroulis, who appeared on Broadway in "The Wedding Singer" musical and is currently playing a singer on the daytime drama "The Bold and the Beautiful." "Would I trade all that work for making one successful album right off the show? I don't have that answer. I think this record is better than the one I could have made right off the show. It's more grassroots — I picked the band, financed it and co-wrote a bunch of the songs."

The album, titled "Constantine," will drop August 7 on his label, with distribution from Sony/Red. Self-proclaimed "blue-collar guy" Maroulis is confident that his fans will find it and buy enough copies to keep him on the road. "I can sell a couple hundred thousand copies and do what I love to do: play clubs," he said. "I don't need to be a huge star."

Just in case, though, he did bring in some ringers, including Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas, who co-wrote a song on the album, as well as Nashville songwriter Angie Aparo (Faith Hill's "Cry"). "It's got a distinctly rock sound, kind of an East Coast Bon Jovi/Rob Thomas vibe with great pop hooks," Maroulis said. The first single, "Everybody Loves," has been featured on "The Bold and the Beautiful" and is on iTunes now. The next single, "Girl Like You," will soon be tied to a story line on the show.

Season four's other rocker, No. 2 finisher Bo Bice, is also prepping an album for later this year: His yet-untitled sophomore release. His 2005 debut, "The Real Thing," featured assists from Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Nickelback's Chad Kroeger and former Evanescence member Ben Moody that were brokered by Bice's label. The longhaired Southern rocker says he called the shots this time around.

The album, which Bice is recording with noted country producer Frank Liddell (Faith Hill, Dixie Chicks), features the music hound's wish list of famed session masters. "I was throwing around ideas of the people I wanted to play on it," Bice said. "And I was like, 'Yeah, sure, these guys will play on my album. Right!' " But a few phone calls landed him Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell — who Bice met a decade ago when he delivered a package of Christmas CDs to Leavell's house — as well as Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman, legendary session guitarist Waddy Wachtel (Keith Richards, Tom Waits) and bluegrass icon David Grisman.

"It's a star-studded cast, and I'm the only one on there who's not famous," the ever-humble Bice joked. "I picked and co-wrote the songs that if I was a guy who would be spending my hard-earned money buying an album I would want to hear." That means original back-to-basics Southern rock and country-tinged singer/songwriter tunes co-written with A.J. Croce (son of 1970s singer Jim Croce) and Chris Tompkins (Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats").

Bice said he wrote 31 songs for the album and is narrowing down the list to 10-12 that will make the final cut, including four songs that are currently vying to be the first single.

"I didn't have a lot to do with the first record," said Bice, who took time off in late 2006 to have another surgery to finally correct a nagging intestinal blockage that hospitalized him 15 times last year. "It was very RCA and Clive [Davis]-driven. It was an excellent album, but it was a revolving door of one guy in this week, another guy the next. This time I was here for every aspect [of it], and I'm a lot more comfortable."

Bice and Maroulis were the trailblazers for rock singers on "Idol." They paved the way for the show's latest breakout star, last season's No. 4 finisher Chris Daughtry, a fact Bice takes pride in.

"It made me proud that Chris said I was part of what inspired him to audition," said Bice. "There was never a bone in my body that thought I was going to win or make it that far. To see people progress and see more rock people on there makes me proud."


"American Idol" third-place finisher Melinda Doolittle, outfitted in jeans, T-shirt and Prada bag, trying on sneakers at Niketown on E. 57th Street in Manhattan with a male sidekick, says the New York Daily News.


Watch video of Season 6 "contestant" Sherman Pore singing "Eternally"

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© 2007

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