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'Idol' Alumni Report: Future releases by Taylor Hicks and Paris Bennett

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15555__taylor_lMichael Slezak won’t be back from his well-deserved vacation for a couple more days, but I’m sure he’d want me to tell you that Billboard has the full scoop on Taylor Hicks’ post-Idol major label debut CD, which comes out next week (Dec. 12). No surprise, Taylor Hicks will include covers of Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and soft-rockers like Rob Thomas and Bryan Adams (though the Adams tune is one the “Summer of ’69” singer composed for Ray Charles). I’m just relieved that Hicks (pictured) and the evil geniuses who run the Idol sausage factory his producers aren’t forcing us to listen to “Do I Make You Proud” again.

Meanwhile, USA Today‘s Idol Chatter blog is reporting that Hicks’ fellow Season 5 finalist, the eerily precocious and versatile Paris Bennett, has signed a record deal and could be releasing a CD as soon as February. This news has me worried, since the tiny songbird has incredible poise and technique but never displayed enough personality, individuality, or emotion to win the hearts of a majority of Idol voters. (Contrast her with the less polished but much more interesting Elliott Yamin, whose unabashedly personal style has earned him an ardent fan base.) Let’s hope Bennett makes careful song choices and hooks up with producers who’ll let her be herself (whoever that is), since it would be tragic for her to release a merely good album that gets lost in the shuffle, leaving her washed up at 18.

UPDATE: Taylor Hicks is streaming in its entirety at VH1.com. How is it? Listen and report back.

addCredit(“Taylor Hicks: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com”)