By Chuck Arnold
March 03, 2014 12:00 PM

CHUCK’S TAKE

How Are the American Idol Champs Faring ?

Remember Taylor Hicks and the Soul Patrol? Eight years after he won American Idol back in the good old days of Simon, Paula and Randy, his recording career has hit the skids. Now that Candice Glover, the 12th victor of TV’s singing-competition juggernaut, has just released her debut album, Music Speaks (see review on this page), will she go the way of Hicks or the way of the original Idol, Kelly Clarkson? The latter and Carrie Underwood remain the only undisputed superstars to emerge after taking the title. Season 2’s Ruben Studdard just released Unconditional Love—a covers collection that reminds you why he was coined the Velvet Teddy Bear—but he hasn’t built the same kind of solid R&B career as season 3’s Fantasia, a Grammy winner who has also done well on Broadway, recently wrapping a stint in After Midnight. Jordin Sparks seemed poised for more pop triumphs after her first two albums spawned hits, but it’s been five years since her last disc. David Cook, Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze have faded to differing degrees, but Phillip Phillips has gotten off to a promising start as a pop-rocker. Meanwhile Scotty McCreery has found more country success with his current hit “See You Tonight.” No matter what, though, at least the Idol champs can boast bragging rights over the Voice ones.

People FAVE

NOAH GUNDERSEN

Ledges |

ALT-FOLK

From the opening moments of Noah Gundersen’s Ledges, with the a cappella gospel strains of “Poor Man’s Son,” you know you’re in for something special. And until it closes with the lullaby grace of “Time Moves Quickly,” this record keeps you transfixed. The Seattle singer-songwriter’s debut solo album—which comes after three EPs and work with his former band, the Courage—is a rustic revelation with its echoes of Damien Rice, Ryan Adams and Fleet Foxes. The personal lyrics and intimate arrangements make you feel as if you are a fly on the wall of the studio (owned by Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard) where it was recorded. With coproducer sister Abby Gundersen on violin, cello, piano and vocals—as well as brother Jonathan on drums, plus sister Elizabeth on vocals—it’s a glorious family affair.

GIRLS VOLUME 2

All Adventurous Women Do … |

SOUNDTRACK

The hipster adventures of Lena Dunham’s Hannah and her Brooklyn gal pals get a cool companion with this Music from the HBO Original Series. Alterna-dudes like Vampire Weekend, Beck and M. Ward provide the necessary indie cred, while Lily Allen (“L8 Cmmr”) and Christina Perri (“I Don’t Wanna Break”) represent the ladies with some crafty, catchy chick pop. Elsewhere, Miguel adds some welcome diversity with the psychedelic neo-soul of “Simplethings,”a fuzzy, guitar-riffing grinder for the sexy girls and boys.

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