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...Taylor Hicks.

If you don’t watch “American Idol,” then you won’t have a clue who I’m talking about. But you probably will in due time. The guy is phenomenal. He’s going places, I tell you.

I’ve been watching “American Idol” since day one for the sole purpose of find that special someone who’s got what it takes to move me. And moving me is no easy task these days.

Well, my diligence has finally paid off after five seasons of viewing this “reality” spectacle of a show. (I use the term “reality” in its broadest sense here.) Taylor Hicks delivers everything I want in a vocal artist and everything the record industry desperately needs right now:

Personality that is unaffected by a desire to “fit in” with the cookie cutters who are on the music scene today
Talent (He can play musical instruments, too!)

His raspy, powerful, goose-bump-inducing voice is reminiscent of those of the masters of “blue-eyed soul”: legends such as Michael McDonald, Steve Winwood and Joe Cocker. His prematurely salt-and-pepper-colored hair gives him a unique charm and adds humility to the whole package. Add in an endearing smile, infectious passion and star-quality showmanship, and you’ve got a winner on your hands.

For the first time, I can actually observe an “American Idol” contestant and say, “You know, I’d actually buy a CD from this guy.”

My intuition is usually pretty accurate; I hope this case is no exception. Taylor Hicks is fast becoming one of my heroes in a time when heroes seem to be a dying breed.