Shut down Randy Jackson's Music Club — immediately
Not that his versatile chops should ever have been in doubt - he's not just name-dropping when he recites his credits on the show, y'know - but there's proof here, if any scoffing hater still needed it, that Judge Dawg is indeed as badass a session cat as he'd have us believe.
Doubters should refer to the sole interesting track on this years-late tie-in, a version of Willie Dixon's "Wang Dang Doodle" that finds Sam Moore, Keb' Mo' and a notably inspired Angie Stone making soulful over Randy's slippery syncopated groove - one that, the more it turns in on itself, keeps throwing my wiggle off the downbeat.
It's a sharp jam, but even it is flawed: The idea that Jackson can pitch any kind of, as the song says, wang dang doodle all night long with this roster is laughable.
Paula Abdul's dreadful leadoff single "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" sure was a tipoff trouble would be afoot here. Problem No. 1 is it's hopelessly clumsy. (Then again, weren't all of Paula's hits?) Problem No. 2 is that she sounds as desperate to come off youthful as Janet Jackson these days. Problem No. 3 is that someone allowed her to sing "wherever the party is, that's where I'll be in a second" - a bad, haltingly delivered line that looks particularly unattractive on her.
That flop-smash aside, it doesn't fully prepare you for some of the groaners inside "Jackson's Music Club," an album considerably blander than much of the tasteless "Idol" glop we've come to expect.
In part that's because some serious talents are fouling up here.
Joss Stone should know better by now than to attempt a formulaic rethink of Bacharach/David's "Walk on By," then shout through it with the same numbing relentlessness Bebe Winans and Mariah Carey bring to this disc's gospel finale, which takes its inspirational feel WAY over the top.
What favor, I wonder, had to be called in to get Ghostface Killah on the embarrassingly outdated Crunk Squad track, "Like A"?
What studio vampire sucked the blood out of Van Hunt and Anthony Hamilton?
What sort of cruel, greedy mind casts Kat McPhee in a duet with Elliott Yamin, knowing he'll instantly show her up as little more than the model-hot backing vocalist she is?
And what committee decided it was smart to let Richie Sambora not only lead a Poison-y power ballad, but open it with this:
Here I go
Trying to write another chapter in my life
Driving down this lonely highway deep inside
And where I'm going
I don't really know
But here I go ...
Funny enough, the track I like best is the most banal one, "My R&B," which is nothing but a hooky shout-out to just about every R&B hit-maker of the past decade - Mary J. Blige, Usher, Destiny's Child, Brandy, so forth. That track at least announces its crass intentions and lives up to them; you can already hear it lighting up third-rate suburban clubs from here to Jersey.
But the rest of this tries to pass itself off as first-rate fresh sounds when it's anything but. I always knew the most well-tempered "Idol" judge's taste was suspect, just as it's plainly evident Simon wouldn't know rock 'n' roll if it knocked his noggin off like a T-ball homerun. All the same, how sad to see a "pro" set such a willfully pedestrian example, when you know he knows how to lay it down a whole lot hotter.