Hot Video Alert: Katharine McPhee - Beautiful (SMASH Cast Version)
I'm hoping and praying that THIS might be the break Katharine McPhee has so long deserved. I've been a fan of McPhee's since she busted onto the scene as a fresh faced & flawless contestant on season 5 of American Idol. While she may have lost to Taylor Hicks, America will see who the real winner is once Katharine's buzzed about new TV show SMASH premieres next Monday, February 6th on NBC.
To help promote the Steven Spielberg-produced series, NBC put out a video of McPhee singing Christina Aguilera's hit 2001 Linda Perry-penned ballad, "Beautiful," a song with which her character in SMASH auditions for a Broadway show. The video starts out with McPhee looking as fresh faced and flawless as she did during her American Idol audition in 2006 and ends with her looking like the pop star she never became. Interspersed throughout the video (of course) are clips of McPhee and the rest of the SMASH cast taken from the premiere season. There's no doubt in my mind that if SMASH is successful, Katharine McPhee will finally find that much deserved spotlight.
Soon after coming second during her season of American Idol, McPhee was signed to RCA Records, subsequently releasing her debut album single "Over It" followed by her self-titled debut album. While the album debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart it's singles failed to make much of an impression on the charts. "Over It" was a Top 30 hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Pop 100 charts, however follow up single "Love Story" was a complete chart failure, missing the Hot 100 altogether. The reason for the failure, to me, was pretty obvious. RCA wanted McPhee to be a cookie cutter, run-of-the-mill pop star, which she wasn't. McPhee has pipes. There's no way she'd excel in a market that banks on slick beats and sexy videos. McPhee simply isn't that kind of artist. On her season of Idol, she blew every performance out of the park with flawless vocal delivery and professional-grade control. She was a ballad singer. The junk that RCA threw at McPhee for her debut was worthless Top 40 garbage. The young singer deserved a lot better.
After being released from her RCA contract and recording one-off songs for soundtracks and various collaboration albums, McPhee would eventually join the Verve Forecast Records/Universal Music Group family. Finally a move that made sense! Working with a diverse range of songwriters (including Richard Marx, Troy Verges, Alex James & more) McPhee released her sophomore album, entitled Unbroken (read my review of Unbroken HERE). The album was vocally and stylistically a much better fit for McPhee. This was the album that she should have released first. Sure, it catered to an older demographic but it sounded like the kind of artist McPhee was meant to be since the beginning. While not as successful as her tragic debut album, Unbroken debuted at a halfway decent #27 on the Billboard 200 chart. Following the release of her second album, McPhee released a holiday album, Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You, which wound up just missing the Top 10 on Billboard's Top Holiday Albums chart, debuting at #11.
In June of 2011 it was announced that McPhee had signed with Columbia Records (back to Sony?), the label that, in association with NBC, would release/distribute music from SMASH. This series marks McPhee's largest acting gig to date, roles in The House Bunny and Shark Night 3D not withstanding. Co-starring Hollywood heavy hitters including Debra Messing, and Angelica Huston, up & coming talent like Broadways's Megan Hilty, and uber-sexy Brits Raza Jaffrey (from BBC's MI-5/Spooks) and Jack Davenport (BBC's Coupling), NBC is counting on SMASH to be the next big thing, and with Katharine McPhee sitting pretty as the leading lady, I think it has a shot. Check out the promotional video for "Beautiful" below and tune into the premiere of SMASH on Monday, February 6th on NBC. Download the single on U.S. iTunes HERE.
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