Blake Lewis is the popular runner-up on the sixth season of “American Idol.” Born in Redmond, Washington, Lewis started singing at age five and competed in statewide talent contests while in high school. He became a beat-boxer at 17, inspired by the then Seattle-based a cappella group M-Pact. Lewis was a member of the Pacific Northwest a cappella group Kickshaw for four years. He also recorded several music videos and wrote a number of original songs.
After “American Idol,” Lewis signed to 19 Recordings / ARISTA Records and started working on his debut album with a stellar line-up of producers and songwriters. Among the producers were Jonathan “JR” Rotem, who has worked with Rihanna (on her No. 1 single “SOS”) and Sean Kingston; Ryan “Alias” Tedder, who has worked with Timbaland; and S*A*M & Sluggo, who have worked with two of the year’s biggest new artists, Gym Class Heroes and Boys Like Girls.
I admit it. I’m a big American Idol follower. I love watching people sing, whether it’s to laugh at how horrible it is or to give praise.
Last season we had two very different people battling it out in the grand finale. We had the big singer Jordin Sparks and then we had Blake Lewis, the beat boxer from Redmond, WA. Jordin ended up winning, but like so many of the past seasons, Blake ended up with a huge fan base as well and a record contract.
His first album ‘Audio Daydream’ (Arista Records/19 Recordings) was released on December 4, 2007 and has sold 261.000 CDs in the US as of January 11, 2008.
Now, a lot of people have been comparing Blake to a certain JT. (That is Justin Timberlake for you who are not down with the music lingo.) And I see the similarities. The hats, the outfits, the attitudes. But music wise, they do differ.
In ‘Audio Daydream’ Blake mixes singing with beat boxing, synchronized computer voices and other effects. His first single ‘Break Anotha’ is a good dance tune that incorporates the singing and beat boxing quite well. You can tell it’s a Blake Lewis song from the first listening. His follow up to his first single will be the song ‘How Many Words’, which again is a good song with a nice beat. The first time I listened to it I said to myself: ‘This could be a good single’. And after a bit of Googling, I find that it actually is his next single. Both good choices, which will make people buy this album.
Do the rest of the songs live up to the potential of the first two singles? No, they don’t. There are a couple of other single worthy songs like the slower song ‘Without You’, where Blake really shows off his voice and the good dance tune ‘Gots to get her’.
But ultimately the album is a mess. It lacks direction and drowns in computer effects. Is this CD a dance, pop or what CD? The genres get all mixed up; the question is if it works. For me it doesn’t really. Blake is good at singing and beat boxing. He should stick to that. But that is hopefully something he will work on if he gets to release a second album. Blake does have the talent to make it in the music business today, it’s just a matter of channeling his talents in the right direction. Less is good. That should be the title of his next CD.
Review by Maria Mariager