As he never tires of telling us during his day gig as a judge on American Idol, Randy Jackson has an extensive history in the music business, playing with everybody from Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey to Journey and Stacy Lattisaw, but the question remains: if left to his own devices, what kind of record would he make? Well, wonder no more, as Jackson finally has gotten around to capitalizing on his newfound stardom by releasing Randy Jackson's Music Club, Vol. 1, a star-studded project designed to show off Randy's range...not really as a musician per se, but more as a producer, or better yet, as an A&R guy. Crammed with singers -- sometimes as many as three on one track -- this album has the unshakable feel of a label showcase, as if Jackson were pushing each musician here with the intent of being responsible for his or her success. It's an odd vibe made odder still by Jackson's insistence on appealing to everybody, as if there were more than a handful of listeners who want to hear crunk, country, and gospel on the same record. This odd mix is made stranger by some truly bizarre pairings, chief among them pushing Van Hunt into a mushy collaboration with Jason Mraz and Jon McLaughlin that recalls nothing so much as Blake Lewis' stabs at Muse-style wimp rock. Blake isn't here, but that hardly means that Idol is ignored: Katharine McPhee and Elliott Yamin duet on "Real Love" and Paula Abdul comes out of retirement for a new tune, "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow." Depending on your level of irony, you may be amused that Abdul uses Autotune on her track but be more amused that Randy, a judge who pushes the idea that Idol is indeed a singing competition, often relies on Autotune here, but it's an irony that's more amusing in theory than in practice -- and that axiom kind of applies to Music Club as a whole, as it contains a bunch of ideas that might have seemed appealing in conception, but in execution they're at best a mess and at worst a bore. It actually would be a better album if it were a mess or followed through on the riskiest impulses -- more of Joss Stone turning the elegance of "Walk on By" into a stomping, clattering "Just Walk on By," less neutering of "Wang Dang Doodle" or crawling crossovers like "Willing to Try," a song featuring Travis Tritt and Richie Sambora and sounding CCM -- instead of trying to appeal to the broadest possible audience, because by attempting to appeal to everyone Randy Jackson winds up appealing to no one.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Paula Abdul
feat: Joss Stone
feat: Kelley Love
feat: Barbi Esco