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Album Review

Resident rebel of American Idol season four, Constantine Maroulis always seemed more comfortable with posing than rocking, which made him the perfect rocker for a prefabricated pop show. He was playing a part, a criticism leveled by the perennially sage Simon Cowell, who nevertheless failed to realize that Constantine's fans kind of liked that theatrical phoniness — after all, anybody who watches Idol doesn't really care whether one of the show's rockers is genuine or not, especially in those days before DAUGHTRY. Constantine's fans liked him — some ironically, some not — and like anybody riding the wave created by his own personality, Constantine tried to move into TV first, attempting a sitcom where he played a lovable rocker next door, a project that was scrapped before it reached the air, but he managed to capture a similar role on The Bold and the Beautiful, with his first episodes on the soap appearing around the time his first album was released in August 2007. Although it appeared on an indie called 6th Place Records (a winking acknowledgment of his placing on AmIdol, Constantine attempts to capture the same kind of mass audience that Maroulis had on the show, as Constantine tries to be everything to everyone on this endearingly ridiculous album. Far from finding a sound and sticking to it, Maroulis tries on personas as if they were second-hand clothes, beginning with the warmed-over Enrique Iglesias of "Girl Like You," then quickly discarding that for a slinky "Several Thousand" styled after Maroon 5, then suddenly sliding into churning post-grunge for "Child of the Revolution," and even dabbling in the Strokes in "I Thought It Was Something," mashing together "Last Night" and "Someday!" That's just scratching the surface of Constantine's spirited genre-hopping here — there are ballads and skipping pop songs like the terrifically funny breakup song "Favorite T-Shirt," where he reclaims the garment and his Purple Rain record, too — and while his pandering is transparent, it's also kind of charming, because he makes no apologies for gunning for any kind of hit at all. It also doesn't hurt that the songs are good pieces of pure pop product — the kind of shameless professional bandwagon-jumping that's not all that common in modern pop in the 2000s. They're not great songs, but they're catchier and cleverer than they have any right to be, and Constantine tears into them with the hammy music theater gusto that distinguished his Idol performances. All this adds up to the rare American Idol-related album: one that delivers exactly upon the promise a contestant showed on the show, since it plays to his strengths as a performer, not what might show up on the radio or not. And let's face it: there's no place on the radio for a record as slickly calculated as this — it's so calculated, it misses any specific demographic! — but for those who loved Constantine on American Idol, this will be the guilty pleasure of the year.

Constantine, Constantine
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