Cover

AND THE WINNER IS... Ben MULRONEY

JONATHON GATEHOUSE September 15 2003
Cover

AND THE WINNER IS... Ben MULRONEY

JONATHON GATEHOUSE September 15 2003

THREE GUYS READY FOR THEIR CLOSE-UP

You don’t have to be Sir George Martin-or even Sass Jordan-to see the promise here. Musical talent practically oozes from the three Canadian Idol finalists who were still in the game last week, Billy Klippert, Gary Beals and Ryan Malcolm (one will be gone by the end of the Sept. 9 show). But if you want originality... well, let’s just say this is network TV, not the Newport Folk Festival.

Beals, a 20-year-old from Dartmouth, N.S., is probably about as close as any comes to authentic. His rendition of Percy Sledge’s classic When a Man Loves a Woman irked the show’s judges (except Jordan), because his vocal gymnastics obscured the song’s famous chord pro-

gression. But the performance underscored Beals’s intuitive comfort in modern soul.

Klippert, 24, is by far the most visually dynamic-and nakedly self-promotional-of the three. A physics and math grad from the University of Calgary, he can sing as silkily as a Backstreet Boy, or roll in the grunge of Eddie Vedder. His bleached-out, skater-boy look sends a who-cares message, but his ambition is never far from the surface. He told the show’s promoters he wanted “to rock and roll forever and end up on the cover of Rolling Stone."

Malcolm, a 24-year-old from Kingston, Ont., looks a bit like pop chameleon Elvis Costello. But his tastes run toward the more traditional offerings of Dave Matthews, and he prefers to sing tried-and-true classics. It’s a theme that runs through Malcolm’s life: he works at Nostalgia Station, his family’s restaurant in Amherstview, Ont. The name of the group he sings with in Kingston? A Bit of Nostalgia.

It is not, in sum, a trio to push the borders of pop music, especially under Canadian Idol's karaoke format. But, hey, nobody suggested the show was about inventiveness, and any criticism of the singers is bound to get lost amid the sound of screaming, prepubescentfans.

CHARLIE GILLIS