Taylor Hicks is no longer giving us the runaround on his first single, but he is giving us "The Runaround" as his first single.
"It's a great song I was handed," the most recent "American Idol" winner said of the upbeat, Motown-flavored track. "I knew it immediately when I heard it. It's got a big drum line. And it's what, in my opinion, soul music should be."
While Hicks hesitated to reveal album details when MTV News visited the studio where he was recording (see "Taylor Hicks Planning To 'Wamp' It Up With New Sound On Debut LP"), the Alabama native is now gushing all about the self-titled release, due Tuesday.
"The songs are great, and I am emotionally attached to each one of them," Hicks said. "I have watched them grow like flowers, so I'm pretty excited about it."
Although the album features its fair share of big-name songwriters, perhaps most interesting is Hicks' own involvement as a songwriter. He co-wrote "Give Me Tonight" with producer Matt Serletic and songwriters Kevin Kadish and Kara DioGuardi, and he re-recorded "Soul Thing" and "The Deal," which previously appeared on his second indie album, Under the Radar.
Elsewhere, Rob Thomas contributed "Dream Myself Awake," Diane Warren penned "Places I've Been" and Anne Preven and Scott Cutler, the team behind Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn," wrote "The Maze." (A track written with John Mayer did not make the final cut.)
Hicks also recorded Marvin Gaye's "Wherever I Lay My Hat" and a song called "The Right Place," which was originally written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance for Ray Charles to record before his death.
Charles, of course, is Hicks' hero, and he's honored on a track called "Heaven Knows." "I started listening to Ray Charles at an early age," Hicks said. "I guess when everybody else was listening to Blind Melon, I was listening to Ray Charles. He was the foundation for my musicality."
Hicks kicked off a press tour last week and plans to launch a full trek at the end of February that will "hopefully last 10 years," he said.
And he's not entirely joking. After all, another one of his idols is road warrior Jimmy Buffett. "As a performer for so long you have this mentality of [wanting] everybody who comes to your show to be Parrotheads," Hicks explained, using the nickname given to Buffett's loyal followers. "The Parrothead mentality is like a gathering, a social event — it's not only about the music, but it's about the people you meet all over the country. That's what I strive for as a performer: to have a traveling circus of fans."
Unlike previous "Idol" winners, Hicks has a decade of experience as a full-time musician, and he's documenting those years in an upcoming memoir, "Heart Full of Soul."
"It's the life experiences of a struggling musician on the road for 10 years," he said. "What I've learned and what I can apply to everyday life that could possibly help other people in the same situation. Not necessarily in the music sense, but also to become a successful accountant or a successful writer. I think there's some things I've learned on the road that I could apply that could help. That's kinda the reason I'm doing it."