September 10, 2004 : New Zealand Idol Scandal!


SEPTEMBER 10, 2004 - AUSTIN, TX --- Austin band Vallejo was surprised to learn that their previous release, "So Damn Beautiful", is getting some attention in New Zealand and it's not from Vallejo, but from NZ Idol Runner-up Michael Murphy.

The band was contacted by Regan Cunliffe at late Thursday afternoon to inform the band of these recent developments. Vallejo co-wrote the lyrics to "So Damn Beautiful" with songwriter Chris Rodriguez in January 2002 while in Miami recording the song for a follow-up release to 2000's Into the New (Epic/Crescent Moon). "So Damn Beautiful" was later released on Vallejo's Stereo (VMG, Nov. 2002) in the U.S. and in Japan (Universal Music International, Oct. 2002).

"This is all a surprise to us," says drummer Alejandro Vallejo. "We're currently following up on the details and are looking into our options."

Snap! Idol runner up's 'original' song someone else's

A storm of controversy has hit Taupo singing star Michael Murphy on the eve of his debut on TV2's Top of the Pops.

The NZ Idol runner up is due to perform his long-awaited first single So Damn Beautiful, which he has been touting as an original, on the television programme tonight. But it turns out that it is someone else's original. The song was not only written by an American, it was released by Texan rockers Vallejo in 2002 and nominated for a Grammy in the same year. The news has sent Murphy's fans into a spin. The unofficial fan site is humming with posts of disbelief.

Murphy's manager Paul Ellis was reported yesterday accepting blame for the mix-up. He told The Press in Christchurch that he came across the song four years ago after signing songwriter Chris Rodriguez while working in New York, and did not realise a band had "cut" a version of the song in the interim.


And from Alex Vallejo, here's the "Real" story behind "So Damn Beautiful".....

Our band, Vallejo, started working on our follow-up album to Into The New (Epic/550/Crescent Moon) on Emilio Estefan’s record label, Crescent Moon, in January of 2002. Pete Ganberg had just been appointed as A&R for Epic and was told by label president, John Doelp, to come up with a ‘hit’ that could break the band or we were done. So Pete flew us down to Miami in February of 2002 to co-write some songs with songwriter Chris Rodriguez, and the search for the ‘forced smash hit’ began.

One of the songs that Chris showed us was a tune he had written for his girlfriend called “My Little Angel”. The song had a great melody in our opinion, but the lyrics were a bit 'cheesy' for AJ and the band’s taste, so we told Chris that we’d like to take a shot at rewriting the lyrics back at our hotel room at The Cordoza. That night our whole band re-wrote the lyrics and re-penned the song “I’m In Control”, that we as a band, thought was our greatest achievement yet. We were sure Chris would think we’d 'hung the moon' with this new version.

So we went back to his studio the next morning and showed it to him. He said he hated it. At that point, we were about to can “Little Angel” and move on to another song, when Chris told us that we should give it another shot and hash out something together right then and there. We all went down to his studio and sat around his piano and started putting together the lyrics to what was now called “So Damn Beautiful”. At least it had the word 'damn' in there, which we thought had a little attitude, so all day we walked around his studio throwing words around until we had a story. Chris’ melody was always there. The song was now about a guy who was going away for a while and he wanted to take a picture of his girlfriend with his camera so he could look at her anytime he wanted to be reminded of her beauty. Still pretty cheesy, but chicks love it. So we decided to go with it and give it a shot. Chris worked fast and wanted to capture the momentum of the song. So without much rehearsal, we hashed out a rock version of Chris’ piano version and layed it down within an excruciating few hours.

The Superbowl was that day and we were kind of bummed that we couldn’t see it, because it was the last day we could record before we had to go back to Austin. So Chris promised us that we could take a break and go down to Hooter’s during half time and watch U2, then come back and finish the song. After an inspiring burst of creative energy from U2’s performance, we came back and finished what we all knew was something special. "So Damn Beautiful" was recorded during Superbowl Sunday on Feb 3rd 2002. We never saw any of the game.

When we got back to Austin, we got word that Epic wasn’t crazy about the song and that we were in trouble. Shortly after that, we got the call from Miami saying that we had ‘no hit song’ and we were dropped from the label. With no record label and a bunch of songs, including "So Damn Beautiful", we decided to go into the studio and record our new album ourselves. We started our own label called VMG and distributed Stereo through Red Eye Distribution and even licensed the record to Universal/Japan. The rest is history…

- Alex Vallejo