With “American Idol” gearing up for its tenth season in the New Year, Simon Fuller’s pop-star assembly line shows no signs of slowing down. Come January, prime time TV, YouTube, and countless glossy magazines will, once again, be overrun with stories of fame-hungry contestants and the blinding white glow of Ryan Seacrest’s teeth. But before the new season starts, the teenie boppers and soccer Mom’s of Middle America have a new album to buy. The time has arrived for last year’s winner, Lee DeWyze to release his debut record, Live It Up from Fuller’s RCA label.

For those (like this critic) who missed DeWyze journey to “Idol” triumph, the Illinois native apparently wowed judges and premium-rate-phone-voters with covers of classic songs like Bill Withers’ “Ain’t no Sunshine” and R.E.M’s “Everybody Hurts.” DeWyze’s vocal style is pleasant enough, but it’s not particularly impressive or interesting. Playing his songs at full blast won’t threaten any nearby glassware. DeWyze sounds more like John Mayer than Otis Redding. Like Mayer, the songs from his new album will likely fill the top 40 like ignorable pieces of furniture in a young professional’s condo.

[rating:1/4]

The creation of a musical form of Ikea was surely what the RCA puppeteers had in mind for DeWyze’s debut release. “Live It Up” achieves the kind of light, generic pop/rock that it’s demographic can accept with ease. The album is packed with soft sounds and depressingly predictable key changes. DeWyze’s lyrics are also pretty unimaginative. The eleven songs on the album deal with all the issues that one would expect from the winner of a national talent contest. The fact that DeWyze sings about young love and young heartbreak for his young audience is easy enough to swallow. What does offend about the songs is their dreary lyrical content.

Throughout the record, DeWyze doesn’t just flirt with the use of tired clichés; he takes them out to dinner, picks up the bill, and drives them home at the end of the evening. The chorus of the sickeningly catchy, “Sweet Serendipity,” for example, includes the lines “I’m always landing on my feet / in the knick of time / by the skin of my teeth.” The Idol champion is also a fan of stringing together seemingly senseless similes in his songs. On “Brooklyn Bridge,” DeWyze croons over a lounge jazz piano, singing “Every time you’re near / Its like standing in Time Square /on New Years Eve and no one is around / Like looking up on a summer’s day / and seeing snowflakes coming down.” What those lines are supposed to say about the giddy excitement of a new love is anyone’s guess, but don’t be surprised when your teenage cousin uses them in her facebook status.

The soppy lyrics and recycled pop formulas aside; surely, everyone over the age of sixteen can agree that Lee DeWyze’s success is not entirely dependent on the music he produces. Whether or not “Live It Up” sells in the way RCA would like it to, hinges on the capability of those who voted for the twenty-four-year-old on “Idol” to make room for him in their overloaded psyche. With Bieber Fever at full tilt, and a new season of “American Idol” around the corner, DeWyze will, once again, have to compete to win the hearts and minds of the record-buying public.

In the run-up to Live It Up’s November 16 release, DeWyze’s managerial team are sure to do all they can to make a return on their investment. Performances on “Good Morning America” and renditions of “Star Spangled Banner” at televised sporting events doubtlessly beckon. Sadly, for DeWyze, the early signs are that his career will better resemble that of Ruben Studdard (remember him?) than Kelly Clarkson. “Live It Up” is not the egregious thing to be released from Simon Fuller’s evil empire (he’s also responsible for the Spice Girls and making Piers Morgan famous). It seems unlikely, however, that the fifteen minutes gifted to Lee DeWyze will extend much further than his first RCA release.

42 Responses

  1. Jean Johnson

    Joseph, you have written such a ‘NEGATIVE” and inaccurate review! Lee DeWyze has a very unique sound of music that not ONLY pleases the young but the OLDER generations. It is obvious that you do not follow his music or that you know what he did on Idol to win. This man has talent that is never ending and will be pleasing his fans way beyond your review days. Lee DeWyze can sing anything with a twist of his own that pleases the listener. I am 74 years old and I say he is “Great” so take your negativeness and go away to another place where it is appreciated. In the meantime “Have A Beautiful Day”

    Reply
  2. Cindy

    I’d have to pretty much disagree with EVERYTHING in this review. Love the sound/tone of Lee’s voice and I ‘m not alone. BTW I’m neither a teeny bopper nor a soccer mom.

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  3. Kathie

    I totally disagree with your review. I love Lee’s voice and think the lyrics of his songs are great. I am not a teeny bopper or a soccer mom either and believe that Lee will do very well!!!!

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  4. Kj

    You must be fun at a party.. Love everything about this album after listening to snippets, his voice, his words,.. Me thinks you had your mind made up before you listened!.. Pathetic review by pathetic writer..

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  5. Julie

    Let me guess…you’re a middle-aged, unmarried man. Seems to be a theme for a lot of Lee Haters. I’m older than a soccer mom and I love ALL of Lee’s music. You probably can’t get a date either! LOL. Yes, you are pathetic.

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  6. Rita

    Why is this even showing up in Google? Who is this person? What is this magazine? Obviously, nothing respectable. This “critic” right off the bat admits that he is not familiar with music of Lee Dewyze. So what makes him an expert? Who certified him and gave him a license to pass judgments on Lee’s music and predict his whole career? People who follow Lee Dewyze career know that this review could not be further from the truth. But someone who is not familiar will read this and will NOT buy a CD, and will miss out. I’ve been in and around music my entire life, voice and talent like Lee Dewyze comes once in a lifetime. And if anybody here takes “tired clichés out to dinner”, it’s the tired and incompetent author of this article.

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  7. Annie Conaty

    Joseph it really goes against my better judgement to respond to your ridiculous critique of Lee DeWyze’s CD. However, I must say obviously you are not a music connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination and it shows. Simon Cowell’s accounting of Lee is totally right on and obviously America agreed with him. I don’t think you do much reading either because if you did you would know that Sweet Serendipity sold 18,000 first week out of the gate. Oh and may I make a personal observation of your taste in music, it’s all in your mouth! Don’t put any money on anyone holding any value to your critique you might need it down the road if you are off on your future reviews as much as you are on Lee’s!

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  8. Trevor

    Joesph,
    How dare you have an opinion does that does not agree with these people. If I know one thing, it is that when an unbiased music critic writes a review of a album, he or she better give a great review if the artist won American Idle! I mean commeee onnn! Some of the most prolific and influential artist of our time came from the show (e.g. William Hung). You better take another listen buddy!

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  9. Daisy

    let me just say…I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH JOSEPH.
    Enjoy yet another banal and pathetic voice whining from your top 40 station.
    Enjoy listening to nothing special.
    Enjoy contradicting yourselves. “This is not a respectable site” Clearly not since you have taken the time to comment.
    As to all you who are in-between soccer mom and teenybopper age. fuck off, your taste in music still sucks no matter what your age is.
    And to you old people who say “lol” you can go fuck off too.

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  10. jannie4567

    Ack! You have a time limit on writing comments!
    Here’s my much shortened version 🙂
    As someone who enjoys Lee’s type of music, I know there are others who prefer Pink Floyd, Gaga, Kesha, and Bob Dylan. With the way radio is these days, I can only hope we start to have more artists go down this path as Lee and John Mayers and others, rather than the violent/demeaning trash that is put out by the current “hot” artists. Are those songs any more revelant with their lyrics? THey do have great hooks for sure… but so trashy. The only artists selling seems to be the shock factor or whacked out reality weirdness like Susan Boyle
    I think Lee did a great job for his first post AI effort. He does have a very radio friendly, modern sound. I hope he picks up many more fans when his album drops.

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  11. Cath wilson

    As an earlier comment pointed out, I think this piece was written in a slightly negative, sarcastic tone. Joseph provided his personal opinion and it’s clear that he does not favor Dewyze and/or his music. This is his right, but I do feel that assuming Dewyze is another Studdard is unfair, at least at this stage. Also, and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, it seems that this piece is saying that Mayer-Mraz type music is a disappointment and that Dewyze should not be producing this genre. Personal opinions are fair, but I don’t think it should be decided that the type of artist he is automatically decide his success. And the comments seem to prove the fans are not only teenagers.

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  12. dewyze sucks

    i totally agree. dewyze is the absolute worst singer to ever appear on idol , and the worst winner, outside of kris allen ever. this dude cannot sing for shit, and it was so evident on the show. but he somehow won, but this turd of a single and cd can no longer hide the fact that he is a joke, and doesn’t deserve any stars. he is a real no singing singer, and idol bowersox is no better. she sucks too, idol last season sucked, and the season b4 it too. s7 was the last great season full of real talent. this dude is a j o k e. keep telling the truth, cause his delusional fans need to wake up.

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    • Cindy

      Amanada – not sure where I posted my comments about things I hate? Have a great day :o)

      Reply
  13. Pam

    I will add my voice to the positive comments about Lee. Lee is a very, very talented singer, songwriter and musician. His voice is so unique it sets him apart from the bland, similar sounding stuff we hear all over radio. November 16th is going to be one of the best days of the year for me, finally more Lee DeWyze music to enjoy. I just about worn out my Ipod listening to his Excellent pre-idol albums, Slumberland and So I’m Told which I highly recommend. For a professional review you can check out Lyndsey Parker of Yahoo Music ‘s album preview of Live It Up – http://new.music.yahoo.com/blogs/realityrocks/399571/lee-dewyze-album-preview-a-promising-start/

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  14. Jen

    Dear Jospeh

    Obviously you’ve never been in love so you can’t relate to the lyrics. I don’t blame you. BTW, I won’t be stuffing you pockets with money but I’ll definately be stuffing Lee’s pockets.

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  15. Rita

    At the very least someone on this website should remove the foul language comments. You know, like those little buttons on other websites that say “Report as Offensive”, you should have that too. After reading those trashy comments I feel violated, I am not coming to this website ever again.

    Reply
  16. Mai

    Lee is incomparable. He has his own style, his own kind of music, and his passion for it is unbelievable. He don’t deserved a negative review like this! He just want to make music and influenced more people with it. And fortunately, I’m one of those whose lives where touced by LEE DEWYZE!!!

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  17. Sean

    Trevor seems to be the only person in this forum that has applied any logic to what they’ve posted. Reviewing music, unless you’re critiquing the actual composition or quality of recording of a record or song, is based solely on opinion. If said opinion isn’t inline with your own, it doesn’t make it wrong or invalid, it just makes you sound horribly ignorant and borderline retarded for suggesting so. For those claiming this artist is unique while comparing him to the rest of what is heard on commercial radio in this country, please realize that your measuring stick is seriously short. There is so much more music being made then what you are most likely hearing, and I would venture to bet, it’s far better by most standards. Bruce will always be remembered, the Replacements will always be remembered, everyone will forget about this asshole in 6 months. MY OPINION.

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  18. Hdndjd

    Lol at the fans here. I’m a Lee fan too but I can see where the reviewer is coming from. He has his own opinion, and his own opinion, just because it is different from yours, does not make him ‘pathetic’. Overzealous fans only ruin an artist in the long term. JS

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  19. Sing

    Reviewer is entitled to his opinion. Back off cray teens and middle-age women! Rabid AI fans hurt the artist!

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  20. Ashley S.

    What hurts the artist are formulaic reviews that aren’t an accurate reflection of the music. Lee is very talented both as a singer and as a songwriter. I heard several of the songs today on AOL Radio and was very impressed. Lee sings and writes from the heart and his music is filled with passion and emotion, something missing from most pop music today. Take a listen to the samples at Lee’s Facebook and see for yourself. “Brooklyn Bridge” and “A Song About Love” are my favorites and really show the wonderful qualities of his beautiful voice.

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  21. Dugan

    Every.single. year – the same thing happens. Reviewing an American Idol album ought to come with hazardous duty pay.

    If a writer on one of these sites has actual facts wrong, post the facts, and back then up. But ranting at someone whose opinion differs from one’s own just leaves these fans reflecting badly on the artist.

    This is soft folk pop – and the lyrics aren’t interesting enough to compensate for the sameness of the music. With different material, maybe something different could have been achieved, but I won’t be buying this type of album. The fans who like it will have to make up for my one missing sale.

    And that’s an opinion.

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  22. Robin

    This is to be expected. The show promotes the most “safe” contestant and rushes through the production of the debut album to capitalize on all the millions who watch the show. The winner’s album has to be watered down, inoffensive, bland — that’s what you have to be to win! That’s why in recent years the more interesting contestants have come from other than the number one spot.

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  23. Mel

    Regarding Lee’s lyrics I would recommend you check out his pre-Idol album Slumberland. I think its really interesting and more of a reflection of Lee than what this album probably will be. But most of the songs on Slumberland probably wouldn’t get played on the radio today. I think his lyrics on that album though are pretty good. I haven’t heard this latest album of course but seeing as how most post-Idol albums disappoint I’m keeping my expectations low.

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  24. Joe

    @Ashley S. seriously, you’re pretty much better off NOT stalking the reviews. You’re going to be defending Lee at every turn and it won’t even matter because his album is terrible and will not sell. Sorry :[

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  25. Gina

    Laughing my ass off! Only a handful of retards showed up to defend this pathetic fat slob. Yep, this bodes very well for Lee’s career. I bet I can find more Danny Noriega fans than I can Lee’s. “You clearly have not been following Dewyze’s career” Why would anyone – besides you depraved housewives – want to waste a good portion of their lives going through Lee’s turds?

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  26. Matt D.

    The album is much better than I expected from Lee. I gave it a fair chance, unlike the reviewer and some haters here.

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  27. thomas

    i think that you guys are all crazy! if you guys hated lee so much then why are you reading a review of his album? interesting…

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  28. Rusty Cage

    Review Lee’s 2 pre idol albums vs Live it Up to once again prove how RCA/Idol turns a creative artist into a sheep who now writes songs by committee. His first 2 albums, love them or hate them, are written by Lee and are a real gage of Lee’s songwriting.

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  29. Nancy

    I’m a big country fan and also a fan of Lee’s music. I liked his first two albums but I love this album. It’s upbeat and the words along with the music is great. I could definately see Live It Up as a cross over to country. He got a very different type of voice that’s so nice to listen to. Good Luck Lee! Continued Success!

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  30. Leslie Fuxan

    I guess I’m one of those middle-aged moms referred to by one commenter – what’s wrong with that? We enjoy (and purchase) good music as much as the next guy. I loved Lee on Idol and I find this first effort as really enjoyable and much better than many other Idol first efforts. All music doesn’t have to be subject to critical acclaim to be good and no music is going to be enjoyable to all listeners. I expect this type of music is just not your cup of tea.

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  31. Chris

    It really bugs me when people over think music. This is a pop album with some very catchy tunes. Nice melodies. If you liked lee on idol you should enjoy this record and it is well worth the money.

    Reply

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