I must admit that I followed the second season of Fox's cheesy American Idol program. I smirked along with Simon, thought Paula Abdul was a suck up and who the hell was "Randy'dawg"? Unlike most of the people in the United States that were rooting for Ruben Studdard I cheered for Clay Aiken, the 24-year-old elfin-ish red head native from Raleigh, N.C. who was wedged out by the Velvet Teddy Bear Ruben Studdard in the final go around.
But Aiken not to be outdone has already been No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, where, "This is the Night" spent two weeks on the top. It is the best selling single of 2003 and has paved the way for the artist's first album, Measure of a Man, which was just released on RCA records.
Clay as a performer and an idol is the real deal. He sums up what an American Pop idol is supposed to be. At times the sappy material, not written by him, but pros like Desmond Child and other sensible and endearing musicians is presented on this CD. Even though Aiken was beaten by Studdard who won the ultimate prize of a multi-million dollar record deal Aiken's rendition of Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me,' brought down the house. His unexpected sex appeal was a surprise element that made him even more enduring. He was actually a strong opponent and a likable guy, two key features in him becoming an idol.
"Invisible" the first single features him singing in a Rick Springfield fashion minus the snazzy guitar licks. The video and the single are both receiving a good amount of play on television and radio, respectively. "It's one of those songs that people know by the second chorus - maybe not the right words but they've got the melody and they're jammin' with you. And it was such a catchy song," says Aiken.
"No More Sad Songs," has beautiful keyboards and refined vocals comparable to Sir Elton John an obvious influence. His voice is sweet, and, in the weeks since American Idol competition, has come along way.
"Run to Me," utilizes a grand orchestra fashioned by Doug Emery who has produced full live strings section. The use of a real section is a common feature in many chart-topping artists including Train. His voice is passionate and vocalizes his desire to make a relationship work.
"Perfect Day," is a safe song geared for a teen audience. It's a nice tune and he has good pitch. It's very upbeat and like Invisible has a catchy chorus.
Clay Aiken's Measure of a Man, is a well-crafted expose of pop music. At times the songs are corny and trite. His style is in the vein of Sir Elton John and Barry Manilow. I actually found myself liking this disc more and more with time. He is pleasant and a force to be reckoned with in the future. Watch out Ruben.
Susan Salva is a Staff Writer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.