Katharine McPhee Album Review

at . Comments

The debut album by Katharine McPhee comes out today. What follows is a review of it by The Boston Globe ...

Six years into the process and they still can't get it right the first time.

They would be the folks charged with helping American Idol contestants make a debut album that just hits it out of the park. An album that isn't, without fail, composed of one big money track, a couple of good songs, and a lot of personality-free filler.

Katharine McPhee Album Review
Last year's almost-Idol Katharine McPhee had better pray that top 40 programmers get behind her the way country radio did for 2005 champ Carrie Underwood if she hopes to make it to that all-important second album. Because like Kelly Clarkson before her, McPhee's debut doesn't do justice to what she likely has to offer.

Out today, this unbalanced but promising self-titled debut follows the established American Idol formula almost to the letter.

Although McPhee, a former student at the Boston Conservatory, was positioned as an old-fashioned vocalist on the show with her fan-favored rendition of "Over the Rainbow," she also excelled at lighter pop fare such as KT Tunstall's "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree."

The album's cabal of songwriters and producers - including, but not limited to, Timbaland protégé Nate "Danja" Hills , pop song doctor Kara DioGuardi , and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds - try unsuccessfully to cram both of those sides, and a few others, onto one record.

The first single, "Over It," is a soul-spiced, mid - tempo kiss-off of the sort that's been especially popular of late -- see Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable," JoJo's "Too Little Too Late" (by the same writers) and Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone. " It's a good style for McPhee. Yet her generic vocal makes it sound as if it could be a demo for any one of the above

An obligatory pair of big, blowsy Mariah Carey-style piano anthems should play to the core Idol audience, but they do nothing to illuminate who the 22-year-old California native is beyond a pretty girl with a pretty voice.

A few ill-advised flirtations with the type of sister-friend soul associated with Mary J. Blige -- impeccably produced by Hills -- only manage to make McPhee seem squarer than she actually is, and a lite-reggae number is best not spoken of again.

But for almost every ridiculous song like "Open Toes" - a slick dance track that's supposed to be in the sassy Christina Aguilera mold but, by being about shoes, is just silly - there is a gem like "Better Off Alone." This ruminative blues sounds relaxed and emotionally honest, and plays into strengths McPhee displayed on the show.

Nonsensically , McPhee and her handlers placed "Better Off Alone," as well as the dreamy Babyface contribution "Everywhere I Go," at the end of the album. Hopefully, next time McPhee will play to her strong suit instead of trying to play all her cards at once.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


This album has a good variety to it... However, as a person who loves pop, I was disappointed when I bought this album... "Over It" is the only track I really like from the album. "Love Story" is unique but not so inspiring, "Open Toes" is funky but doesn't really suit her voice, "Home", "Ordinary World" and "Better Off Alone" are very American Idol but easy to get sick of. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't like soul-spiced tracks like "Not Ur Girl" and "Each Other". Other tracks like "Dangerous" and "Neglected" just don't sound fresh enough. But I see the effort put on this album - and I give Kat credit for that. Hopefully she'll perk up in the second album.


I won't say I was disappointed with the album, it's just that, I had higher expectations of her... her voice wasn't showcased well at all, it hid behind layers of R&B "heard that before" melodies. The ballads just passed for me.


I'm sorry but I was extremely disappointed with this CD. The 2nd person to say that people who don't like this cd didn't like katharine in the first place is being stupid. I LOVED her. I thought she had the most beautiful voice and biggest talent of any contestant on the show. She showed us how amazingly she could sing soft ballads like NO one else ever could, and then she delivers this? I was going to be first in line to buy her cd, but now I refuse. I just hope she gets the chance to make a 2nd cd that shows the katharine we fell in love with..


I love her debut album! It's full of catchy tracks and wonderful vocal performances. I didn't know anything about McPhee until checking it out, though.


Don't be fooled by Kat's change of style, because her own personal thread runs through every song. None of the music is repeatious on Kat's part.
There's only questionable song on the CD because of it's suggestive, although the quality is great. Kat went out on a limb, not to be stereotyped, by always singing other people's songs.
I would say that anyone who does not like this CD never liked Kat to begin with and looks for every chance to bash her.
This comment comes from a 50+ year female, who listens to mostly comtemporary Christian music. Thanks Kat for eliminating violence and anger from your music.


I think Kath Did a great Job with the first album, she just wanna make the world knows that she is the ACTUAL american idol, someone who can SING all kind of music.
The second album she will be Very BIG, so watch out Soul Patrol, dont skip any voice lesson.
We proud of you Kath !