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Is North American idol in range?

April 09, 2006|Steve Hochman

Daniel Powter

"Daniel Powter" (Warner Bros.)

** 1/2

PERHAPS having a song associated with "American Idol" losers isn't the best way to reach No. 1 on the singles chart for the first time -- at least not in the long run. But the use of Powter's "Bad Day" behind each week's "AI" send-off montage honoring the contestant voted off the show has certainly helped put the singer into pop consciousness before this debut's release. Not that the song and singer don't have appeal even without the "AI" placement.

Were Powter an "Idol" contestant himself (never mind that he's Canadian and, at 35, too old for the competition), he would be most at home on Elton John Night. Often on his debut album (in stores Tuesday), he affects a falsetto recalling John circa "Bennie and the Jets" -- with some Barry Gibb in there as well.

As a writer, Powter aims at updating John's piano-based format with hip-hop-derived beats, but he lacks the role model's emotional depth. He (or his characters) seem more interested in hookups than meaningful relationships, which is fine, though in such portraits as "Jimmy Gets High" he just tries too hard as a lyricist. The same, perhaps, can be said of some of Mitchell Froom's production touches. Such slick turns as the rocker "Suspect" are texturally nice, but simplicity ("Styrofoam") serves the singer best. Just ask Elton John. Or Simon Cowell.

*

Steve Hochman

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