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Today marks the start of the 10th season of "American Idol." With a surprisingly unfunny Ellen DeGeneres replacing Paula Abdul, the ratings juggernaut wasn't the same last year. And while the departure of Simon Cowell will hurt the show even more this season, it still makes up a sizeable slice of the American pop-culture pie.
The only former Idol/athlete hybrids that come to mind are Season 3's Matt Rogers, Season 5's Ayla Brown, and last season's "Big Mike" Lynche (unless you want to give Janell Wheeler athlete props for once playing footsies with Tim Tebow). But it's common knowledge that musicians want to be athletes and athletes certainly want to be musicians.
So to honor the show that has brought us pop idols Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia and Adam Lambert, to name a few, I'm taking a look at some current professional athletes who double as musicians (or musicians posing as pro athletes, depending on your perspective) and determining who would be worthy of that coveted yellow ticket to Hollywood, and whose performances are, in the words of Simon, "absolute rubbish."
Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos wide receiver
Lloyd became infatuated with hip hop after hearing D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince's old-school hit single, "Nightmare on My Street." After Lloyd turned pro in 2003, Hustlinn Records decided to give him a shot, and from there B. Lloyd was born. Audition: "Heavy," written for the Spike TV show, Blue Mountain State.
Verdict: While a bit generic, "Heavy" does have an ear-friendly, flowing, yet driving, beat. Much kudos to the lyrical stylings, which teach us a little about B. Lloyd: "He's from Kansas City, so would you like a slab o' ribs." I'm not blown away but would like to hear more. You're going to Hollywood!
Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds pitcher
Ever since Bronson Arroyo released his 2005 debut album, "Covering the Bases," I've heard nothing but (mad) props for his musical skills. His Bronson Arroyo Band mainly performs covers of extremely popular and accessible adult alternative music from the likes of Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters. Audition: cover of "Slide," by the Goo Goo Dolls.
Verdict: Wow, what a disappointment. Gruff stylings can't mask a poor singing voice that is more of a poor man's Nickelback than anything pleasant (or on key). Sorry Bronson, you're a great pitcher and surely having fun with this whole music thing but... No Hollywood for you.
Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs guard
The former Mr. Longoria has always been a fan of the hip-hop movement in his native France. In 2007, Monsieur Parker dropped an album of his favorite musical genre, titled "TP." Audition: "L'effett Papillion," featuring Jamie Foxx.
Verdict: While I have no idea what any of the lyrics mean, this does evoke memories of the "Sex and the City" series finale (Oh, John!). L'effett has a smooth beat and keeps the head consistently bobbing. You're headed to Hollywood!
Jordan Shipley, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver
While sidelined with a leg injury in 2004 and 2005, then-Texas Longhorns WR Shipley, who has played guitar since age 3, honed his craft as a singer-songwriter. Audition: "I Wanna Be Like Colt McCoy," performed at McCoy's wedding.
Verdict: Props for the lyrics, which will always benefit from a reference to Tim Tebow. Two major thumbs down, though, for performing a song at a wedding without once mentioning the bride. But overall, nice country twang and rich tone (which really stand out when compared to the guy who sings the second verse). You're going to Hollywood!
Ron Artest, Los Angeles Lakers forwardI'm not really sure when Artest's interest in a double life as a rapper began, but he does say he's trying to channel the passion of Michael Jackson. I hope that's all he channels. Artests's 2007 "My World" only got bad reviews, not horrific. Audition: "Champions," created and performed in honor of the Lakers' 2010 NBA Championship.
Verdict: I'm only a rapping connoisseur when I'm on the treadmill, and I like my beats a little faster and more pulsating than this offering. And why does RonRon use the plural of "Champion" when all the lyrics are about him, owner of only one NBA Championship ring? He even goes so far as to compare himself to Cassius Clay, Michael Phelps and Dale Earnhardt. Uh, those are individual sports, buddy. Sorry, no Hollywood for you.
Carlos Arroyo, Miami Heat point guard
The Puerto Rico native is a big fan of reggaeton, an urban Latin music style, and launched his own label, Arroyo Hit Music, in 2009. He has yet to release a full LP, but does have a couple of singles to whet our musical appetites. Audition : "Se Va Conmigo."
Verdict: Unfamiliar with reggaeton, I wasn't sure what to expect. But I could see this little ditty having appeal with its smooth accessibility. Still, I was a bit bored and would have like to have heard a little less redundancy. You're (reluctantly) headed to Hollywood!
What can I say? I must have more Paula in me than previously thought ... or I don't have particularly high standards for athletes. How would you rate these guys?