'American Idol' fifth-season winner Taylor Hicks dropped by J Records
By Christopher Rocchio and Steve Rogers, 01/07/2008
J Records is apparently cleaning house when it comes to former American Idol champs.
Two weeks after reports that the label had dropped second-season champ Ruben Studdard from its roster emerged, J Records has confirmed a recent Entertainment Weekly "Hollywood Insider" blog report that claimed to have "heard" fifth-season Idol winner Taylor Hicks was also meeting the same fate.
"Taylor is going to record his next album on his own," EWquoted an unidentified "label rep" as saying in a less-than-definitive sounding Thursday evening blog posting that featured a "Taylor Hicks, Ruben Studdard dropped from J Records?" headline. "He is no longer on the J Records roster."
J Records confirmed the report of Hicks' departure, as well as the earlier reports of Studdard's departure, in a statement released Monday.
"Taylor is going to record on his own for the next album," J Records representative Liz Morentin confirmed in a statement released to E! News. "Ruben Studdard is still signed to 19 Entertainment [the production/management company behind Idol], and is currently working on his new album, however it will not be distributed by J Records."
RCA chairman Clive Davis' Arista Records and Idol creator Simon Fuller's 19 Recordings Limited had signed Hicks to a recording contract only days after the "Soul Patrol" singer had defeated Katharine McPhee to claim Idol's fifth-season title (Arista had merged with J Records the previous year).
Hicks' self-titled debut dropped at No. 2 on The Billboard 200 album sales chart during its first week of sales in early December 2006, selling 298,000 copies. By March 2007 the album had sold 640,000 copies, but had dropped to 136th on The Billboard Top 200 album sales chart and had Hicks hoping he wouldn't become the first Idol winner to see his debut album sell less than a million copies.
The album had sold approximately 699,000 copies as of last week, according to USA Today, however Hicks was apparently still in high spirits just prior to the holidays.
"Thanks to all of you, 2007 has been a great year and with my new album, dvd, and new tour I see 2008 being even better," Hicks posted December 24 on his MySpace blog. "I sincerely look forward to seeing everyone next year."
The 31-year-old recently returned to the States following an appearance on Asian Idol and a concert in Manila, and discussed his plans for 2008 with his hometown The Birmingham News in a Friday report.
"I think I'll have a lot more freedom creatively this go-around," Hicks toldThe News. "I'll also have the time now to create an album without the post-winning-Idol constrictions. I have time for the album to breathe artistically."
According to Studdard's management team, although the news only emerged recently, Studdard and J Records actually decided to "part ways to go in a different direction" last spring.
"Ruben loves Clive and respects Clive, and I'm sure Clive feels the same way about Ruben," Studdard spokesperson Johnathan Effinger told E! News on Monday. Studdard's team was reportedly "bemused" that the not-so-recent split was being considered "news," according to E! News.
19 Entertainment is currently shopping Studdard to other record labels, according to Effinger.
"By no means [is he] in dire straits," Effinger told E! News.
Hicks' management did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on his status, according to E! News.