With Tate Stevens winning a recording contract and industry insiders talking label deals for the remaining "X Factor" Top 4, will finalist CeCe Frey land an album deal -- and if she does, would you buy it?
So far the rumor mill that surrounds the singing competition reality shows hasn't churned out any real speculation on the topic, but it can't be long until CeCe Frey's name becomes part of the swirling talk of new album deals and signings going on in the wake of the "X Factor" finale. Love her or hate her, Frey finished in the sixth position among the top finalists on the show and has managed to amass quite the fan base, so it stands to reason that some recording company just might find her worth investing in -- even if only as a long-shot gamble that could pay off.
And don't think for a second that it won't be Simon Cowell. The creator, producer, and judge/mentor of "X Factor" runs his own recording label, Syco Records, in partnership with Sony Music. Whether or not he said it for the cameras (thinking she got a raw deal from the producers and editors casting the Illinois girl as a "mean girl" earlier in the season), Simon admitted he liked the ostentatious pop singer, referring to her as a "tryer." The brutally honest Simon did say that CeCe wasn't worth a $5 million recording contract (and given her performances, he was certainly correct in that assessment), but that doesn't mean that the businessman with over 300 million record sales to his credit won't take a shot at someone who could potentially be the next Kesha. Besides, there is little doubt he could sign CeCe Frey to a far smaller contract as a jump-off, further, bigger, and better deals to be contingent upon the results of the first album and its singles.
Still, would she be a good investment? The 21-year-old made it into the live rounds of the shows and was a constant bottom dweller in the voting. Her sometimes weak and inconsistent vocals did her no favors, nor did the song choices. But even though her live performances left a bit to be desired (a lot in some instances, like when she performed Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger"), she had no problem doing the choreography and getting through the material. And yet, the same thing can be said of big names like the aforementioned Kesha and mega-pop star Taylor Swift. Both of those bestselling artists sound like off-key karaoke versions of their recorded selves during live performances. That being said, who is to say that CeCe couldn't turn out an acceptable studio recording?
So, presupposing CeCe garnered an album deal, who would buy it? If her Facebook and Twitter accounts are an indication, she just might have a solid enough fan base to get her career off to a good start. At present, the sixth-placer has over 113,000 friends on Facebook and almost 400,000 followers on her Twitter account (@CeCeMissXtotheO).
(To compare, she has more followers on Twitter than Cassadee Pope, who boasts over 375,000, and half as many Facebook friends. But Pope had a large following even before she appeared on and eventually won the third season of "The Voice," not to mention five albums under her belt, four with her former band, Hey Monday. CeCe Frey was a virtual unknown when she stepped on the audition stage in Kansas City earlier in 2012. So...)
And she certainly isn't shy about marketing herself. She made headlines with her nearly "nude" attire at the "X Factor" season finale after party.
To be sure, there are no guarantees in the music business. Look at the finalists from "X Factor" Season 1 that have recorded albums thus far (the entire Top 6, with seventh-place finisher Astro due to an album as well). Not one of them has had a major hit, including the winner of the $5 million, Melanie Amaro. At the same time, Simon Cowell has reportedly shown interest in signing not just the Season 2 winner, Tate Stevens (who won his contract), but also the rest of the Top 4 -- Carly Rose Sonenclar, Fifth Harmony, and Emblem3.
And given the talent shown by fifth-place finalist Diamond White, that 13-year-old is undoubtedly in line for a recording deal as well.
So don't be surprised if you hear rumors and even an eventual album contract signing by CeCe Frey. And don't be surprised if she sounds a bit different and a whole lot better on the radio than she did in her live performances. Given the magic that can be done via electronics, engineering, vocal modulation, and autotuning (bane to the industry that it is), don't be surprised if the girl winds up with a hit song. Just don't expect her live performances to measure up (you know, like Taylor Swift). Besides, not being a great vocalist has never stopped artists from becoming accomplished and/or successful artists (read: Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, etc.).
But first, CeCe needs a recording deal...
"X Factor" returns for a third season in the Fall of 2013. In the meantime, Simon and company will be looking for a hit maker. Who knows? CeCe Frey could very well be the one to get it for them...
Take Home Message: CeCe Frey seems to be cast in the Lady Gaga mold of new artists, unafraid and unashamed to be ostentatious, titillating, and risque. At the same moment that it is attention-grabbing, such emphasizing of the superficial and provocative also distracts from limitations and (sometimes) true talent. And although one must admire CeCe as perseverent, her drive to become successful in the music business borders on the personally demeaning. This might go a long way with gaining acceptance from big-time producers (the willingness to do anything to succeed), but when the price paid is personal pride and dignity, the toll should be considered with care.
(photo credit: X Factor, Fremantle North America, SycoTV, Fox Television)
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