For the past few summer months, Canadians have been "treated" (emphasis mine) to our own version of television entertainment at its best - Canadian Idol. Like the American version (or, for that matter, the original British version Pop Idol), it's an inspiring show that allows contestants from across the country to showcase their singing talents and vie for the top position of Canadian Idol (and the associated recording contract that comes along with it). Or, if you're a cynic like me, it's just a karaoke contest. Nevertheless, I will the first to admit that it is a compelling, if not ultimately exciting, show and I sat there with my eyes and ears glued to the television in anticipation of who would be voted out.
This continued until the final show last night where Ryan Malcolm, a lanky caucasian 23 year old chap from Kingston, Ontario, was revealed to be the winner of the crown over Gary Beals, a Dartmouth, Nova Scotia native. When his name was announced by the host, Ben Mulroney, it actually brought a smile to my face, if only for the fact that he auditioned in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario. It certainly wasn't for his vocal talents which, while impressive, didn't strike me as being all that interesting. In fact, throughout the contest, Ryan seemed like he was always dodging a bullet in being voted off the contest.
Whatever the case, the public has spoken - the majority of an estimated 3.3 million votes being placed in total for the final round going to Mr. Malcolm.
So what do we know about Ryan Malcolm? Well, apparently he's developed his singing talents while participating in a family band. He pays the bills by working as a waiter (which, I assume, will not be the case now).
According to his bio, Ryan likens his singing style to Dave Matthews. I would tend to agree with this comparison because I find Dave Matthews to be dull and uninspiring, too, even with all the obvious talent that he has in his hands.
After wowing the judges in audition with his take on CCR's Down On the Corner, Ryan was sent to the contest in Toronto, Ontario. Throughout each episode of the contest, Ryan's song repertoire looked pretty eclectic, with some leanings towards the more adult contemporary side. Some songs were by choice (eg. Down On The Corner, Blue Rodeo's Try), others were forced on him by the contest (eg. Elton John's Believe, the first Canadian Idol single Something More). Ryan went through all of them with a consistency in his voice that not too many other competitors, including Beals (soulful when he's good, a banshee when he's bad), could match.
However, consistency doesn't necessarily add up to a whole lot. While Ryan's voice rarely faltered in action, it never impressed me as being all that spectacular. Just like Dave Matthews, it almost seems like it's bound to take second place to strong song arrangements - it's there but it's never going to be all that noticeable.
Regardless of his blandness, this is exactly how I hope Ryan's career will progress. I really pray that he will find the time to arrange a strong team of backup musicians and allow for some really good arrangements to support him. Whether or not this happens, time will tell. It is worth noting, though, that much like American Idol, Ryan's going to be stuck under contract to the production for quite some time and, along with the obvious Canadian Idol circus tour, will be putting out sugar-coated crap for the first part of his career.
Good luck, Ryan!
- Canadian Idol Website (www.ctv.ca/generic/WebSpecials/Shows/CanadianIdol/default.html)
- Canoe (www.canoe.ca)
- Many hours of my time in front of the television