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Feb 9 04 11:49 AM
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Feb 23 04 6:53 PM
Feb 25 04 1:53 AM
Clay shines in city he calls `home'
Even tour partner Kelly Clarkson gets in on the fans' adulation of Aiken
Special to The Observer
"It's pretty close to a perfect day if I do say so myself," Clay Aiken beamed, as he finished singing "A Perfect Day" two songs into his set at Charlotte Coliseum Tuesday. "My first concert tour and I get to open it here, at home."
Aiken's appearance Tuesday in Charlotte wasn't just another concert. It was opening night of his co-headlining tour with "American Idol" first-year winner Kelly Clarkson.
For many area fans, the homecoming of last year's Idol runner-up and UNC Charlotte grad was an event. Two local fan groups, Charlotte Claymates and M'Aiken a Difference, gathered late Tuesday afternoon at area restaurants to share the anticipation.
For many the Charlotte date is just the first in a string of stops on the tour.
Lily Elkins, 14, of Durham and her mother plan on catching Aiken in Raleigh and Winston-Salem as well.
"I didn't watch the first `American Idol,' " Lily said shortly after Clarkson's set. "But I started watching the second one the night they showed Clay's tryout. I liked both Ruben and Clay, then Clay did `Grease' and I saw him sing in Raleigh and I was a Clay fan from there."
Clarkson, whose fiery voice rivals today's top pop divas, looked ever the down-to-earth country girl in baggy, ripped jeans, a vintage "Love That Country Music" baby T-shirt, and bare feet. The only hint of diva from the Texas native was her glitter eye shadow and the blue bustier and crop pants she later sported through Reba McEntire's "Why Haven't I Heard From You?"
Clarkson didn't seem to mind handing over the spotlight to Aiken. She even made her own "I Love Clay" tee. While she belted out gospel, jazz and pop numbers with energetic vigor, she saved the one-two punch of "A Moment Like This," her "American Idol" winner, and her No. 1 hit "Miss Independent" for last.
"I wasn't a big Kelly fan, but she was wonderful," said Amanda Garrett, 24, of Asheville, who wore a pair of homemade Clay earrings with two Clay faces hovering above her shoulders.
Spurred on by chants of "We Want Clay," Aiken surprised everyone by entering from the audience. His backup singers sang the first few bars of Mr. Mister's '80s hit "Kyrie," as Aiken joined in from the back of the arena followed by a swarm of security guards. Wearing a pin-striped blue shirt and tie, gray, striped slacks and white Nikes, Aiken soared through songs like "No More Sad Songs," and "Without You," a duet with backup singer Kiana Parlor, whom he met during his Idol tryout here in Charlotte. The duet is a new one, which Aiken recorded with former Idol contestant and roommate Kimberly Locke for her upcoming debut album.
When Aiken sang the lyrics "When you say you love me do you mean it" he was met with deafening cheers. Aiken played up his heartthrob image by pulling on his button-down shirt as if he'd tear it off during his current hit "Invisible."
Despite Aiken's local celebrity, the Coliseum was far from sold out. The top tier balcony was blacked out and second-row seats were made available the day of the show.
Feb 28 04 10:02 AM
Quote:TAMPA - If crowd reaction is any measure of who is the real ``American Idol,'' give the crown to Clay Aiken.
The spiked-hair crooner who looks like a younger version of Barry Manilow was greeted with screams from adoring fans, known as ``Claymates,'' on Friday night at the St. Pete Times Forum.
The audience of 10,823 was predominantly female and of all ages - from grandmothers to preteens.
Appearing with first ``American Idol'' winner Kelly Clarkson, Aiken, the runner-up on the last ``American Idol'' series, brought the women to their feet when he made a dramatic entrance from the back of the arena and walked down through the crowd surrounded by body guards.
Although Clarkson and Aiken share equal billing and are alternating as headliners on this 30-city tour, Aiken clearly was the crowd favorite.
The 25-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., played to the faithful with little endearing touches such as picking up a cell phone from a woman near the stage and singing into it, signing autographs and performing ``Happy Birthday'' to an ecstatic girl named Stephanie.
The duo have said this tour would focus on their music and there would be no fireworks, exotic costumes, big dance numbers or lip-syncing.
From a low-tech setting, Aiken breezed through ``No More Sad Songs,'' ``I Survived You,'' ``Perfect Day'' and ``When You Say You Love Me.''
His ``Measure of a Man'' brought screams with almost every line.
His cover of Leo Sayer's ``When I Need You'' and Prince's ``When Doves Cry'' were crowd pleasers.
He also performed ``Without You,'' a new duet with backup singer Kiana Parlor, a friend he met during his ``Idol'' tryout in Charlotte, N.C.
Aiken has recorded the song with former ``Idol'' contestant Kimberly Locke for her upcoming debut album.
Clarkson opened. The 21- year-old from Texas seemed to speed through a no-frills performance of about a dozen songs off her albums.
Blame it on the sound system, but the distortion was so bad that only those who knew the lyrics could decipher what she was singing.
Clarkson had little interplay with the audience, which seemed subdued between her sets and came to life briefly when she did numbers such as ``A Moment Like This.''
Quote:Clay soars, Kelly rushes
By RICK GERSHMAN
Published February 28, 2004
TAMPA - Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken followed starmaking turns on American Idol with top-selling singles and albums. Friday at the St. Pete Times Forum, they tested whether their talents could resonate beyond the confines of the TV screen.
It wasn't presented to be a competition, but come on - these two got their careers from a competition. And while Clarkson was the first American Idol champion, Aiken - the second-season runnerup - easily stole the show.
The co-headliners followed opening act The Neu Sisters with separate sets, except for a show-capping duet of Journey's Open Arms. They alternate the opening and closing slots each night.
Clarkson was first up Friday, and her set played nothing like a true headlining gig. Instead, it was largely rushed and graceless.
A ponytailed Clarkson, while in good voice, sang with little passion and even seemed distracted. She steamrolled through most of her album Thankful like she was in a Fear Factor challenge, with barely a breath between songs.
Her delivery was largely uninspired, improving only a little with her set closers: The Idol signature A Moment Like This and her hit single Miss Independent. She sang them in a T-shirt that read "Clay Rocks" - ultimately her one resonating statement of the night.
Aiken ran right off with the show, dramatically appearing from the back of the arena to lead the band through a cover of Mr. Mister's 1980s hit Kyrie, rousing the crowd of 19,823. All night, he was charismatic and assured. Unlike Clarkson, he seemed completely at home onstage.
True, Aiken's smaller-than-life appearance was only magnified - or is that minimized - by the arena around him.
When Aiken sang I Will Carry You off his album Measure of a Man, one had to wonder: Clay, just exactly whom could you possibly carry? Mini Me? Whitney Houston?
It's too bad some of Aiken's material isn't better: The cheesy verses of I Survived You were indistinguishable from a Jack Black parody. But darned if Aiken - no doubt a fan of the word "darned" - didn't preach it like it was gospel, and darned if the crowd didn't buy every syllable.
Aiken closed by aping Prince - come to think of it, there's a guy he could carry - with a cover of When Doves Cry.
Few sights on earth could be stranger than Aiken dancing amorously with a lovely backup singer, crooning to her "the sweat of your body covers me . . . can you picture this?"
She's can't, we can't and Clay can't, but he knows it, and that makes him immensely appealing.
He's in on the joke, but his talent is serious, and Friday he seemed every inch the star. As for Clarkson - how about From Justin to Kelly II?
Feb 28 04 10:49 AM
Quote:This is another review from last night, do they even know Kelly performed too?
Devoted fans follow feats of Clay Aiken
By Sean Piccoli
Pop Music Writer
Posted February 28 2004
Jeanette Dessimoz is not a Grateful Dead fan. But she has a routine any Deadhead would recognize. Dessimoz is leaving her Fort Lauderdale home this week to follow her favorite live act on tour. She hit Tampa on Friday. Tonight, it's Sunrise. Monday, she'll be in Raleigh, N.C. Dessimoz, who works for a telephone company, is hooking up with friends and other fans along the way, talking set lists and comparing notes about every concert she attends.
"This is a first for me," Dessimoz says of her recent road-tripping, "and I'm 52."
The object of her new interest is not some legendary rock band with an old hippie legion in tow. It's Clay Aiken, tousle-haired star of American Idol. The rookie pop singer, 25, who talks softly and has a big, ballad-eating voice, plays the Office Depot Center tonight. He is co-headlining the latest Idol road show with Kelly Clarkson, winner of the popular singing contest's inaugural season.
Aiken, of course, did not receive the title of "American Idol." The second-season crown went to Ruben Studdard. But No. 2 in the rankings finished first in the hearts of people whose commitment only started with a weekly viewing habit.
Self-styled "Claymates" made Aiken's debut album, Measure of a Man, one of 2003's top sellers. Fans alone have raised $300,000 for a foundation Aiken started last summer to benefit children with developmental disabilites. That total does not include any album royalties or box-office earnings Aiken himself contributes to the cause. Combine the television ratings, record and ticket sales, foundation money and general devotion of people like Dessimoz, and the Aiken craze resembles a movement whose front line happens to be, as Dessimoz puts it, "a bunch of women in their 40s and 50s."
"I think he is the right person at the right time," says Fran Skinner-Lewis, who runs the Bubel/Aiken Foundation out of Chicago. "And I think what you're finding is that there has been a need in this country for a role model who is a real role model, not a manufactured role model."
Never mind that Aiken graduated from a reality program that manufactures sensation and entertains in part by showing us humiliated losers. Fox Television, whatever its methods, has done good in the view of Claymates: American Idol gave the world a kind and deeply religious young man who survived the barbs of Idol judge Simon Cowell, won't disrobe on national television and inspires a protective, almost maternal devotion.
"[Fans] have found something in themselves that has been awakened by Clay," says Skinner-Lewis. "I think it's really because the television show allowed him to come into his own in front of the country. And the more that people discovered who he is as a man, the more they were able to connect to him."
Pat Sicoli of Melbourne, considers herself a case in point. Sicoli works for an association representing auto dealers and spends a lot of time traveling. She first saw Aiken on television in a hotel room. She loved his voice but says she was "hooked" by his activism, which she learned of at the online discussion boards where Aiken fans congregate. Sicoli was expecting to see many of the board-posters in person this week as she prepared to attend the Tampa and Sunrise shows with her grandchildren and twin sister.
This is all very new to her. "I mean, I grew up with Elvis," she says. "I'm a very conservative, level-headed person and I've never been a fanatic about anybody. I don't know what it is, but there is something about Clay."
The essence of Clay will no doubt be plumbed at the first annual "Clay-vention," March 5-7 in Raleigh, a few days after the Aiken/Clarkson concert there. Sicoli might not make it. Dessimoz and others will.
"They need a Clay fix," Dessimoz says of her energized peers. "They need to talk and laugh and giggle. It is addictive, I think, in a way. I have never been so thoroughly entertained in my life."
Sean Piccoli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4832.
Feb 29 04 11:29 PM
Quote:Aiken went first, opening with a headstrong, declarative cover of Mr. Mister's '80s favorite, Kyrie, a song well-suited to his more-is-more artistic approach. He soon followed with a set drawn largely from his debut album, Measure of a Man. But the tunes were all painted in bright primary colors, leaving no room for subtlety. And Aiken pushed so hard, his voice began to grate -- or worse yet, teeter-totter and crack.
Indeed, what was missing from his music-making was the kind of easy grace he demonstrated when he spoke directly to the crowd. At one point, he grabbed a cellphone from a female fan and talked to the person -- in this case, the fan's mother -- on the line. He's not the first to try such an attention-getting device, but his affection for his fan base is clearly genuine. (And of the thousands in the audience, the Aiken contingent -- or "Claymates" -- was the loudest.)
Mar 1 04 11:11 AM
Quote:Miami Herald Review (claysession)
Miami Herald He sang his unlikely selection extremely well, revealing the gospel roots of the tune by opening it as a ballad amid hearty piano chords, and then taking it to a rousing finish.
The performance Saturday night showed that the poised, charismatic and confident Aiken can handle more than the unchallenging, overproduced pop mush of The Way and When You Say You Love Me that his producers have saddled him with so far.
Sun-Sentinel Review (ellenpoppy)
THIS is why I wish Clay wasn't paired with another AI alumnus--this woman can't look past AI. And she sure as hell didn't get what we all got from Clay's performance. But as always, compliments on the voice:
Aiken and Clarkson show off Idol mettle
By Jennifer Peltz
Posted March 1 2004
MIAMI Clay Aiken isn't the type of heartthrob who gets women's underwear thrown at him. He's the type who gets women's cell phones thrust at him, with their mothers on the line.
And he is the type who talks to their mothers, as about 7,100 people learned Saturday at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Even if it was a stunt -- and it didn't appear to be -- it's this sort of accessibility that helped make the careers of Aiken and tour mate Kelly Clarkson, two of the most successful graduates of TV's American Idol. Ask fans what they see in the two, and most will marvel that the populist-pop stars started out as unknowns. Never mind that so did most other stars. The Idols, explained Kami Churba of Plantation, "don't seem to forget it."
They made sure to send that message Saturday, whether by means of Clarkson's frayed jeans and bare feet or Aiken's confession that he wasn't quite sure how to look smooth while navigating his set's stairs.
But Aiken was more than able to sound smooth while reproducing Perfect Day, Invisible and much of the rest of his double-platinum debut album, Measure of a Man.
He managed to look mildly convincing making eyes at a backup singer during a cover of Prince's When Doves Cry, but the self-professed nerd's specialty is a squeaky-clean sincerity. With his loose-limbed walk, jacket-and-jeans wardrobe and half-shy stage moves, Aiken comes off like a John Cusack character, and it's impossible not to be won over by him. The average member of his audience didn't just like him -- she'd like to have him for a son-in-law.
Clarkson may not inspire whatever it is that makes grown women call themselves "Claymates," but she's a punchier performer with a wider-ranging repertoire. And she plays a bit of guitar -- if with a feather boa for a strap -- and shares writing credit on some of her own double-platinum disc, Thankful.
Clarkson proved equally at home with the r&b-flavored title song, Miss Independent's strut and the country-style takedown of Reba McEntire's Why Haven't I Heard From You. A piano-only version of her own album's Beautiful Disaster proved she has an ear for mood as well as music.
For all their ability, the Idols do little to harness music's power to challenge, advance the cause of human creativity or even stop listeners in their tracks. And the armchair democracy that creates them does little to promote it. As Aiken fan Carolann Bailey of Daytona Beach put it, she likes his record because you can turn it on while you're doing whatever you want to do around the house.
But to take issue with these duly elected celebrities is virtually to be branded unpatriotic. They are officially idols (despite coming in second on the TV show, in Aiken's case), and who's to say they shouldn't be? When ordinary people go on reality shows to prove they can be stars while stars go on reality shows to prove they can be ordinary people, the vanishing point where the sidelines meet the stage can't be far off. In the future, everyone will be obscure for 15 minutes.
Mar 2 04 8:52 AM
Quote:Aiken was best of two 'Idol' stars
By DAVID MENCONI, Staff Writer
RALEIGH -- Sooner or later, all the "American Idol" stars are going to have to prove they can thrive outside the show's safe harbor.
On Monday night, Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson tried to do just that, bringing their "Independent" tour to the RBC Center.
It was a homecoming show for the prodigal idol Aiken, a Raleigh native. Maybe it was playing to a sympathetic hometown crowd, but Aiken came across as the vastly superior performer.
Clarkson seemed to be going out of her way to come off as down-home, coming onstage in torn jeans, ponytail and a red T-shirt that read, "DIRRTY SOUTH" (which later gave way to one that read, "I [heart] Clay" ) . She also strummed guitar on a couple of songs.
Clarkson can wail, and she competently handled everything from ballads to big-band-style belters. But she has yet to develop much vocal personality, and sounded very much like a poor woman's Christina Aguilera. In terms of voice, charisma and overall presence, Aiken pretty much left her in the dust.
Aiken made a splashy entrance with a cover of the 1985 Mr. Mister hit "Kyrie," walking to the stage from the back of the arena and singing as he went. The sold-out, overwhelmingly female, crowd went completely bonkers. This was a show where you could sense the audience as a living, breathing organism, and it reacted with hysteria to all the right cues -- the opening acts' references to Aiken, or nearly anything he did onstage.
There weren't many cigarette lighters in the air, but a steady pulse of camera flashes going off and a forest of raised cell phones. About halfway through the set, Aiken took one such phone from a young woman in the crowd, and had a brief conversation with a woman named Jody listening in from Syracuse, N.Y.:
"Hi, this is Clay Aiken. ... Who's this? ... Jody from Syracuse? ... Breathe, honey."
Then he sang the first verse of "When You Say You Love Me" into the phone before handing it back, probably triggering a heart attack in upstate New York.
Aiken sang most of the songs on his album, last year's "Measure of a Man." Since he only has one album, he had to do some covers to fill out his 70-minute set -- a positive thing, given the blandness of that album.
But not all the covers worked. He butchered Prince's "When Doves Cry" with a lounge-lizard introduction, followed by a semi-lewd thrusting behind one of his backup singers (a shocking move for such a rigorously clean-cut young man).
Faring better was an acoustic medley that included Sting's "Fields of Gold," Leo Sayer's "When I Need You" and James Taylor's "Carolina in My Mind." The latter song drew the loudest howls of the night. But all over the arena, clusters of girls took advantage of the quiet parts of the medley to yell out marriage proposals or vows of undying love.
If he plays his cards right, Aiken could be the next Tom Jones -- or the next Barry Manilow.
Mar 2 04 9:56 AM
Quote:Clay, Kelly Rock RBC Center
Concert Tour Brings Aiken Home To Raleigh, WRAL
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Raleigh's Clay Aiken was in town Monday for stop No. 5 on his 30-city concert tour with "American Idol" Kelly Clarkson.
Clay Aiken performs in front of a sold-out crowd at the RBC Center.
Aiken and Clarkson sang their hits to a sold-out crowd at the RBC Center. A couple of fans hyperventilated during the concert, but were treated and are fine.
The excitement is a lot for Aiken, too. This time last year he was competing on "Americal Idol 2."
Aiken says even though he and Clarkson -- who won the competition two years ago -- just got to know each other three weeks ago, the two share a special bond.
"I've never really had anybody who's gone through the exact same stuff that I've been through," he said.
While in Raleigh, Aiken invited WRAL backstage, which included an exclusive tour of the tour bus he shares with Clarkson and bodyguard Jerome.
"[Kelly and I] both said that would be going to sleep as soon as we got on the bus and for the past three nights we've been the last ones to go to sleep. We sit up and talk for the entire night," Aiken said.
Aiken's trip on the road to stardom brought him back to WRAL, where he joined Lynda Loveland and Bill Leslie Monday on WRAL's Noon News.
Raleigh's singing sensation talked about about many subjects, including what fans can expect at his concerts, what the future holds and negative press.
"I take it all like I take ("American Idol" judge) Simon (Cowell). Kelly says Simon was the way to prepare us for the critics, because not everyone is going to like you every minute and sometimes they're just going to say things for the sake of being mean. If they were any better at it, they'd be doing it themselves," Aiken said.
Aiken is right at home on the set of WRAL's Noon News.
Aiken said he has enjoyed all the special appearances -- especially Saturday Night Live -- and music awards, but he refuses to let it all go to his head.
Monday morning, Claymates lined up at WRAL-FM Mix 101.5, where Aiken joined Bill Jordan and Sheri Logan on the air.
Some fans came from as far as Canada, Texas, Boston and New York for the Raleigh concert and a chance to see their favorite pop star up close.
Ginger Strazzulla, 70, of Boston, and her niece, Karlyn Fuller, were among those in the crowd.
"He has a wonderful voice. He is the type of voice for every generation," Strazzulla said. "I really feel as though he is a role model for the younger people of today. It is so refreshing to listen to him and not have to turn my ears away when some of the words come out."
Some fans came from as Canada for the Raleigh concert and a chance to see their favorite pop star up close.
Strazulla and Fuller plan to attend the shows in Long Island and Massachusetts.
Others in the crowd said they are among friends -- meeting each other in person after chatting with each another in Clay Aiken chat rooms over the past year.
The duo performs in Winston-Salem on March 13.
On March 16, Aiken's new single featuring "The Way" and "Solitaire" is scheduled for release.
Mar 3 04 5:52 PM
Quote:Clarkson and Aiken Take the Show on the Road
by L. Dougherty -- 03/03/2004
They came to our attention through two different seasons of American Idol. Now theyre touring together. Are there flashy pyrotechnics and dancing girls? No, just two singers who put it all out there for their fans. Read on to find out more about the Kelly Clarkson/Clay Aiken concerts.
As the fourth group of American Idol 3 contestants show us what they have this week, Kelly and Clay head into the second week of their show. The Independent Tour makes its way around the country over the next 6 to 8 weeks. This isnt American Idol anymore or so Kelly and Clay would like you to think. Although from the demographics of the crowd, predominately older women and families, one would tend to think a good portion of the seats are being filled by the 40 million AI viewers from last season.
Kelly and Clay treat their fans to a show independent of much stage production. Its all about the singing, and that they certainly do. Clarksons set is much more versatile filled with rock, blues, soulful ballads, and even the big band number, Stuff Like That There, which she performed on the first season show. She plays guitar on two songs, sits cross-legged on a piano singing a newer version of the song, Beautiful Disaster, from her Thankful CD, dances around the stage, giggles, and waves and sings almost non-stop during her hour long set. She proves that she has immense talent beyond what anyone was able to see during the first season of American Idol. America made the right choice crowning her the winner. Her talent and versatility surpasses what anyone could have imagined she could do from the show. Its good to see that she remains the same slightly dorky, humble girl with the bubbly personality that we met over the summer of 2002.
Aiken sings a good portion of the songs from his CD, Measure of a Man, including his first single and crowd pleaser, Invisible. He also does something a little different, singing along to an acoustic set of cover songs, which includes Princes When Doves Cry. He puts a new spin on the song, belts it out, and the crowd goes crazy for him. Hes comfortable on stage, chats with the audience during his set and seems to genuinely be enjoying himself throughout the set.
Kelly and Clay prove that you dont need pyrotechnics and a dance line to entertain. Just like they did on the show, they rely on their vocals, which is rather refreshing. As an admitted Season One fan, it is a pleasure to see how much Kelly has grown since the show. Her vocals are pitch perfect theres no trace of the noticeable fatigue that was present during and immediately post-American Idol. Shes certainly more then a ballad girl and demonstrates more of her roots as a rocker. She varies her set with soul and rock, dances around the stage and gives you a very entertaining hour of music.
Clay seems to be more of a ballad man, which the audience loves. He shows the crowd more sides with his acoustic set. He appears to have grown more comfortable on stage than he seemed during American Idol. He doesnt move around that much but hes warm and friendly throughout his performances. At the end of each show, Kelly and Clay return to the stage to sing a duet of Journeys hit song, Open Arms, ending the show together.
If you are going, you will not be disappointed with the show. Season One fans are sure to feel nostalgic when Kelly sings her tearjerker song, A Moment Like This. As Kelly and Clay move further away from their American Idol roots, they continue the shows tradition of singing your heart out for the audience. There is no Simon, Randy, or Paula waiting to critique them after the show, but if they were Im sure they would be very pleased with the results. Say what you will about the cheesiness of American Idol but these kids both put their all into their show and its a pleasure to see a two hour show of talent over production.
Mar 3 04 9:57 PM
Quote:Triumphant Homecoming: Kelly/Clay Tour Hits Raleigh
by Sheri Liles (2004/03/03)
It may have been billed as the Kelly Clarkson/Clay Aiken Independent Tour but to the sold out crowd at the RBC Center in Raleigh on Monday night it was "The Clay Aiken Show" with two opening acts.
It wasn't that the Beu Sisters weren't adorable. They were energetic, cute, and played to please the crowd. They tried to connect with the audience and their talent was evident though still developing. Their rousing rendition of their original song, Stop, Stay Away From My Sister was particularly remarkable.
It wasn't that Kelly Clarkson wasn't fabulous. Kelly possesses a wonderful voice, clear and melodious. Like the Beu Sisters, Kelly is energetic and cute. She graciously acknowledged that it was a Clay crowd and played that up as much as possible by wearing a I Love Clay shirt and mentioning his name numerous times during her set just to hear the screams. She particularly endeared herself to many in the audience by pinning on a "Raleigh Claymate" button handed to her by a fan.
Kelly sang many of the songs from her CD, "Thankful" including her classic American Idol winning A Moment Like This which showcased her beautiful voice, Thankful which revealed her songwriting talent, and the peppy The Trouble with Love Is. She also covered Reba McIntyre's Why Haven't I Heard From You and performed Timeless, a beautiful duet with Jacob Luttrell, one of the backup vocalists. It didn't take long for the crowd to acknowledge Kelly's talent with resounding applause and dancing, particularly among the floor seats. During Kelly's last song, her most recent hit, Ms. Independent, the entire audience was on its feet. She left the audience energized and happy and waiting for Clay.
For most of the audience consisting of Raleighites, North Carolinians, and many fans from across the country, there was only one reason for attending. The love between Clay Aiken and Raleigh is evident and enduring. Who can forget the minutes-long standing, screaming ovation Raleigh gave Clay during the American Idol tour and his tears of appreciation? Anyone in attendance that night still remembers the electricity in the air and the overwhelming feeling of pride in the hometown hero. As a result, Raleigh has become the Mecca of any tour involving Clay and many in attendance on Monday night traveled from other states to relive the experience. They were not disappointed.
On Monday night, when the lights were finally dimmed after intermission, a roar emanated from the audience in anticipation of Clays appearance. Fans that are active on the internet were prepared for Clay's grand entrance from the audience and many eyes were searching for his entrance point. Strains of the Mister Mister hit, Kyrie, were heard long before the spotlight shone on Clay, entering from the back of the arena. He and his security entourage made their way to the front along the side of the floor audience, a tidal wave of sensation. He finally reached the stairs to the stage and slowly climbed to the stage. Pausing, akin to a king looking over his kingdom, he soaked in the deafening screams and applause, before launching into the remainder of the song. He immediately followed up with a vigorous version of Perfect Day and then songs from his CD, "Measure of a Man," including I Will Carry You, I Survived You, No More Sad Songs, and his next single, The Way, to be released on March 16 on a single CD with the long awaited Solitaire. He enlisted the assistance of the adoring audience in singing his hit, Invisible.
For a slim man, Clay Aiken possesses a remarkable stage presence. He was all over the stage, from one side to the other, interacted with the back up vocalists and the band, confidently strode out on the catwalk in front of the stage, sauntered down into the audience, touched the hands of the ones in the front row, and bantered with the crowd. He grabbed the cell phone of a "cellcert" participant and talked to the female on the other end, telling her to "breathe, honey," further rendering her unable to breathe by singing his next song, When You Say You Love Me, while holding the phone to his ear. He charmed the audience by bringing a little girl on stage with him and singing to her on bended knee. His charisma, charm, and all out likeability was rivaled only by his soaring voice. The joy of the audience was rivaled only by the joy on Clays face during every performance.
The entire set was magnificent but there were several high points. In the absence of Kimberley Locke, Quiana Parler, one of the backing vocalists, stepped in to help perform Clays and Kimberley Lockes duet of Without You, soon to appear on Kimberleys debut CD. Quiana, as American Idol watchers will remember, won the Charlotte audition that Clay lost. She was outstanding and it would boggle any intelligent mind as to why she didnt make the final 12 during American Idol 2. Clay's acoustic set, along with one guitar player and three back up vocalists, struck a cord with the audience as he covered When I Need You, Sting's Fields of Gold, and sang his own Measure of a Man. Then he thrilled the North Carolina crowd with James Taylor's Carolina In My Mind while nearly everyone in the arena sang along.
The picture of Clay standing at the end of the catwalk singing Run to Me with a single spotlight shining on him was unquestionably memorable. Although he had mentioned in an interview earlier that day that he had trouble reaching some of the notes of the song, his rendition was perfect.
By far, the zenith of the concert was the sizzling cover of Princes When Doves Cry including a sensuous dance with Angela Fisher, the other vocalist, leaving the females in the crowd moaning, squealing, or hyperventilating or all three. It was a mesmerizing performance both for his patented hip shakes and the smoldering looks directed at the crowd and elicited the loudest screams of the evening. Clay out-Princed Prince and proved without a doubt his icon status.
There is no question that any self-respecting Clay Aiken fan must see this show. The only question remains is how many concerts to attend.
Mar 4 04 9:38 AM
Quote:Concert review: Crowd is Clay's on Idols show
The ladies began to scream as Aiken emerged from the back of the hall, singing Mr. Mister's 1985 hit "Kyrie" as he walked through the audience. And they continued to scream all the way through his final number and latest single, "The Way."
Whatever X factor makes an Idol an idol, Aiken obviously has it - this despite the fact that he's a one-man Andy of Mayberry reunion: He looks like Opie, moves like Barney Fife, and sings like Gomer Pyle.
He certainly didn't bother dressing for the show. In an untucked blue dress shirt, baggy gray slacks, and running shoes, he appeared to be headed for a shift at Kinko's.
As always, Aiken's clear and limber voice was impressive. The best showcase for his soaring instrument was the simplest: an acoustic medley of his "Measure of a Man," Sting's "Fields of Gold," Leo Sayer's "When I Need You," and James Taylor's "Carolina on My Mind."
Unfortunately, he had to wade through the sappy songs on his debut CD to get there. With the exception of "Invisible," the anthemic material sounded like flea-bitten Three Dog Night.
The high and low points of Aiken's set was Prince's "When Doves Cry." His slow, melismatic, a cappella preface to the song was sensational. Then the music began to jerk and throb, and it became painfully clear that Aiken doing funk is like Yanni attempting Metallica. It's just wrong.
Mar 6 04 2:47 AM
Quote:AIKEN NOT FAKIN': HE'S THE REAL DEAL
By DAN AQUILANTE
March 6, 2004 -- A POST reader - a devoted "American Idol" fan - has been calling me a jerk for months.
All because I said the debut album by runner-up Clay Aiken was a limp, sappy, mealy-mouthed exercise in bombast by a crooner whose only hope was the hype garnered as he was force-fed to America.
In other words, the album was a stinker.
She will be elated to learn that at the Nassau Coliseum Thursday night, Aiken, on a double bill with his "Idol" cohort Kelly Clarkson, played a concert that was startlingly good.
There's never been a question whether or not Aiken can sing. What this concert showed was that, when placed under the lights on a concert stage, the lanky Southerner is an entertainer.
Wearing jeans, a rugby shirt and a sports coat, Aiken was completely unpretentious.
His aw-shucks, between-song banter was natural and the program had a wide reach - from Sting's "Fields of Gold" to his own "Invisible."
While his album was a geezer-pleaser, the stage show's program was more well-rounded, catering to an intergenerational house packed with kids.
Take Aiken's concert version of "Perfect Day." In the live rendering, the singer infused the song with unexpected grit and power that was completely missing from the bland, milquetoast studio take.
Aiken complained that he's been suffering from a sore throat, but there was no evidence of it during the show.
Still, the show was far from perfect: The bass and drums were cranked way too high, and the bottom beats overpowered at times, especially in the latter half of his set.
Aiken used his hit-the-back-wall superpower sparingly, but he couldn't help but inject a full measure of ballad bombast and histrionics into his power ballad "I Survived You."
Still, he didn't rely on those tricks to melt the crowd and unglue them from their seats. Instead, the show's real signature was tunes with upbeat tempos delivered by Aiken's rock band, which was propulsive in its attack.
Where Aiken did wow with slower material was when he stripped the instrumentation down to classical guitar, piano and voice arrangements. That was how he set up an unusual cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry" and James Taylor's pretty country/rock ballad "In My Mind I'm Going To Carolina."
Kelly Clarkson, who won the "American Idol" talent show in its debut year, opened the concert, but she was only OK during her hour-long set.
Clarkson's set depended on too may pop ballads fueled with vocal runs and acrobatics. The crowd lent her strong applause to "Beautiful Disaster," "Some Kind Of Miracle" and "Anytime," but the lack of variety was snore-inducing.
She did get the crowd out of the seats when she asked them to do so, but they were soon sitting again. The rule in rock is: If ya gotta ask, it doesn't count.
Where she did hit all the right buttons with the house was on the fast-break number "What's Up Lonely" and her big hit "Thankful."
The latter was her final tune in her set, and for it she made a quick costume change into a T-shirt that said "Clay Rocks" across her chest.
Who would have thought a T-shirt and TV show could be so right?
Mar 6 04 11:02 AM
Quote:Still more like puppets than idols
BY RAFER GUZMN
March 6, 2004
And now on tour are Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson, the exact opposite of artists.
"American Idol" groomed Aiken and Clarkson to resemble other successful pop and R&B artists - hence, they resemble each other. Though one is male, the other female, they can be described with the same few words: Young, talented, likable. If they have more complex personalities than that, Fox wasn't telling.
The trouble is, Clarkson and Aiken still aren't telling. They've exited the bubble-world of "American Idol" (an environment as tightly controlled as "The Truman Show" ) , but still share the same management company, record label and songwriters- for-hire. That made searching their Thursday concert for hints of originality a tough task, like trying to crack a computer code: The tiniest hiccup in the data became something to glom on to.
Such blips were few and far between, but Clarkson provided most of them. For starters, she's changed her look. Instead of the well-coiffed girl-next-door who appears on her album, "Thankful," Clarkson played the tomboy in ragged jeans and a functional ponytail. She strummed an acoustic guitar on a countryish version of "Low," then an electric one for "Just Missed the Train." During the ballad "Beautiful Disaster," she sat cross-legged on the piano instead of draping herself over it.
If Clarkson's personality shone through her songs rather than her words - she barely spoke during her 50-minute set - Aiken achieved the reverse. His between-song patter was far more charming than his music. At one point, he swiped a cell phone from a young fan and spoke to the apparently hyperventilating caller: "Karen? Let me talk, okay? Breathe."
But Aiken's set plodded along with mostly mid-tempo ballads and gentle pop numbers designed to accentuate his wounded-puppy image. After a short while, his songs became a blur of similar-sounding plaints such as "I've been hurt way too many times" or "I survived you."
The only break was an ill-advised cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry." When Aiken tried to purr, "The sweat of your body covers me," we discovered at least one thing about his personality: He can't funk.
Mar 7 04 10:36 PM
Quote:At MCI, American Idolatry For the Feats of Clay and Kelly
Monday, March 8, 2004; Page C05
Fox's "American Idol" may be just a karaoke contest wrapped inside yet another let's-laugh-at-people reality show, but its premise -- let America decide whom it wants to listen to -- has produced some actual talent. First-season winner Kelly Clarkson and second season runner-up Clay Aiken don't just have great voices, they've quickly become solid performers. During their co-headlining show Friday at MCI Center, they both cruised the stage comfortably, even signing autographs mid-song without missing a note.
Aiken opened, singing "Kyrie Eleison" as he walked through the audience. Fans, a mix of screaming teens and equally ecstatic middle-aged women, sat only when he did, during an acoustic medley that included Sting's "Fields of Gold" and James Taylor's "Carolina in My Mind." Aiken's love songs are predictable, but they kept the audience at full attention. When he paused to talk to a fan's friend on her cell phone -- coaching the hysterical woman to "breathe, honey, breathe" -- his geeky grin sent the crowd into further delirium.
Though she didn't get the thunderous response granted to Aiken, Clarkson delivered a solid set, belting out her ballad "Beautiful Disaster" accompanied only by a piano, playing guitar with her band on "Low," and whispering Betty Hutton's '40s torch song "Stuff Like That There." But Clarkson lost momentum through several unnecessary costume changes, and it was clear by the lukewarm reaction (and preponderance of Aiken T-shirts) that Clay was the main attraction.
Aiken and Clarkson closed the show with a powerful duet of Journey's "Open Arms," turning a saccharine '80s ballad into a vocal workout, bringing the crowd back to its feet. The pair's talent is genuine, and the crowd was ecstatic.
-- Catherine P. Lewis
Mar 8 04 2:30 AM
Quote:Singers show there's talent in 'Idol'
By ALAN K. STOUT
WILKES-BARRE TWP. - Say what you will about "American Idol."
Say that it's cheesy, corporate and contrived, and that it takes the idea that pop music should be a showcase for songwriters and sells it out for the sake of a few points in the Nielson ratings.
Say all of that, and you're absolutely right.
"American Idol" is about as creative and artistic as filling in a pothole, but that doesn't mean that it can't be entertaining.
Some American Idols - no doubt about it - can really sing, and that's clearly the case with 2002 winner Kelly Clarkson and 2003 runner-up Clay Aiken, who performed at the Wachovia Arena on Sunday night in front of a crowd of 8,000.
Clarkson, blessed with a remarkably soulful voice, offered a mix of songs from her debut CD "Thankful" and from her feature film "From Justin to Kelly."
And though some of the tunes themselves were forgettable, her voice shined during every number, particularly during performances of the R&B-flavored "Anytime" and her No. 1 hit "A Moment Like This." Her set ended with an energetic performance of another No. 1, "Miss Independent."
Aiken was next, and Aiken was better.
It's interesting that the young vocalist was never an actual winner on "American Idol," yet he was the biggest star at last year's American Idol tour that visited the arena. And he headlined Sunday's show.
The reason, most likely, is how well he embraces the songs he sings. Through his gestures and mannerisms, he truly appears to capture the feelings of the songs' lyrics, and thus, makes them his own. (Elvis and Sinatra did the same.)
There's also an innocence to Aiken, as if you could see in his smile that his fame is still new to him, and that he's excited about it and appreciative of it. That, too, makes him an engaging entertainer.
Highlights of Aiken's set include his hit "Invisible," "No More Sad Songs," "I Survived You" and an acoustic set of pop hits that included songs by Sting, James Taylor and Prince. The show ended with Aiken and Clarkson offering an excellent duet of Journey's "Open Arms."
Critics of "American Idol" might say that every church choir in America or every karaoke bar might have singers as talented as Clarkson and Aiken, but that's highly unlikely, and that's exactly why the show remains so popular.
It finds talent and it presents it with opportunity. And despite some justified knocks, there's ultimately something very American about that.
Mar 8 04 11:51 AM
Quote:This newspaper was in the lobby of the Hilton Gardens which provides the scenic view of the Wachovia Arena from many windows. Didn't find it on-line, so typed it out on the hotel computer here. Mr. Choman seemed determined to find negative things to say, but in the end, he didn't quite pull it off. If Clay is a "work in progress", the end product will be amazing!
Quote:Kelly and Clay dazzle in their return to arena
by Alexander Choman
Citizen't Voice Music Critic
American Idol alumni Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken returned to Wachovia Arena at Casey Plaza on Sunday night. But unlike previous trips where they were hot off appearances of the most recent competitions on the FOX phenomena they were teamed together this night on the Independent Tour for a sold-out performance as favorites of America's latest infatuation.
Both have clearly matured since they came to town last (Clarkson more, of course). In each one's case though, the adjustments from winners on 2002's version of the Amateur Hour and playing in the big league as it were, are still evolving.
In Clarkson's instance her voice is adjusting and maturing admirably.
The problem comes in the songs that sounded cutesy as "Kelly the novice wanna-be" just dont translate as well to "Clarkson the evolving professional."
In Aiken's case, he is most definitely still a work in progress, results yet to be determined.
In either scenario, and like their cohorts before them (I dare you to name all 20!). Aiken and Clarkson still seem awestruck by the entire experience. And at $46.50 a ticket, the audience might deserve better, I'm afraid.
While they take turns headling on each tour stop, Sunday evening it was Clarkson's turn to open which she did admirably with a generous selection of songs from her hot selling debut recording, "Thankful."
Playing before a set decorated with floor to ceiling transparent linen swatches bathed in various hues throughout the show. Clarkson rendered admirable versions of the title track. "Thankful", "Beautiful Disaster," Anytime", American Idol show stopper, "A Moment Like This" and "Miss Independent."
Clarkson's voice seems to have matured significantly passed these overproduced tunes that her producers burdened her with. On the other hand, her intepretation of Reba McEntire's work was not without merit...perhaps her best song of the night.
For his part, cohort Clay Aiken was clearly this crowd's favorite of the evening. Security ushered him in through the rear of Wachovia Arena in a bit of a grandiose entrance. From the moment he appeared until and hour or so later, the screams of "Clay, Clay, we love you Clay" didn't diminish from one part of the Arena or another.
Versions of Mister Mister's "Kyrie Eleison,"Perfect Day", "I Will Carry You,"The Way", and "When You Say You Loved" all opened and ended with roaring approval from the sold-out audience.
Journey's 1981 power ballad "Open Arms" seemed a bit anti-climatic as Clarkson joined Aiken joined fro the finale.
Aiken was the comsumate showman playing in front of his competent five-piece band and three backing vocalists. Aiken has a cocky confidence that exudes charisma and a belief that he can cover any song and win over any audience. Judging by the reaction of the Wachovia Arena crowd, perhaps he can.
Mar 9 04 8:26 AM
Mar 10 04 9:36 AM
Quote:Clarkson and Aiken live up to `Idol'atry
By Amy Amatangelo
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
In a match made in marketing heaven, Kelly Clarkson, the winner of the first ``American Idol'' competition, and Clay Aiken, the runner-up in last year's competition, took their joint tour to the Worcester Centrum on Monday night. Both stars clearly have not forgotten the reason they have a career.
Aiken performed a slew of numbers from his album, ``Measure of a Man.'' His effortless banter with the crowd was delightful. He signed autographs, took a cellphone from an audience member, and when he saw a 5-year-old girl with a sign that read, ``Clay, can I sing with you?'' he brought her on stage. To his surprise, the young fan knew all the words to ``When You Say You Love Me.''
``You know this song better than I do,'' he said.
Let's be honest - the idea of Aiken covering Prince's hit ``When Doves Cry'' seems preposterous. But as judge Paula Abdul likes to say, it's all about making the song your own. And Aiken owned the song. Whether it was during a power ballad such as ``I Survived You'' or his hit ``Invisible,'' the Raleigh, N.C., native seemed to be having a blast on stage.
``Idol'' judge Simon Cowell's rallying cry is that contestants not only need vocal talent, they also need charisma. That kind of charm can't be taught, and Aiken has a joyful stage presence that is downright contagious. That's one reason he's touring with Clarkson, instead of Ruben Studdard, who aced him out in their season's final vote.
Compared to Aiken, Clarkson did not seem nearly as comfortable in front of the crowd. Although they shared the same three backup singers and band, the two sets were vastly different. Clarkson's stage was layered with Oriental rugs and giant candles and her stage persona was more affected.
Clarkson was often drowned out by her band and, at times, seemed to be screaming the lyrics. She fared better on such numbers as ``Beautiful Disaster'' and ``Thankful,'' accompanied by just the piano, so her rich voice could be heard. The live version of her mega-hit ``Miss Independent'' was the highlight of her set.
Like Aiken, Clarkson remembers where she came from. She closed with her first hit, ``A Moment Like This,'' and signed autographs during the entire song.
Mar 10 04 9:47 PM
Quote:Idol Duo Breaking From Pack
By Scott McLennan - Entertainment Columnist
Worcester- Singers Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson may be proclaiming their "independence" from the AI machine that created them, but the pair's concert Monday at the Centrum revealed how much a product of that machine they are.
Aiken & Clarkson's Independent tour is a well-polished entertainment vehicle, one that allows each singer to stand on the merits of work presented on albums produced in the wake of their successes on the AI TV show.
Both have broken from the pack, no longer simply faces in the ensemble AI tours that have previously hit the road. And both have done well, as Aiken's MOAM and Clarkson's Thankful have provided plenty of fodder for Top 40 radio and MTV"s teen rage, TRL.
But when all was said and done with the Independent tour stop at the Centrum, there was no getting around the fact that Aiken & Clarkson are winners of a glorified "Gong Show" ( and Aiken was actually runner-up in season 2 of Idol). And without that distinction, no singers with a range as limited as Aiken's or stage mannerisms as clunky as Clarkson's would have the right to be headlining on an arena stage.
But to their credit, Aiken & Clarkson came accross as totally likeable characters. Aiken is the guileless Peter Pan-like fellow who warms a mother's heart and radiates the sort of non-threatening attraction that compels young girls to scrawl " Aiken 4 Clay" on their T-shirts.
Clarkson is a bit more sassy, unafraid to let a little blues growl slip into her work, but still the sort of girl a father can be proud of; the odds of finding out Clarkson had a late-night wedding in Vegas seem as remote as finding weapons of mass detruction in Iraq.
At a time when the school of pop is awash with ne'er-do-wells and harlots, Aiken & Clarkson present themselves as safe alternatives. And that warm, cushy feeling was embraced by a near-sellout house.
Aiken was the first to declare his independence. The pixieish singer emerged from an aisle in the middle of the arena singing the joyous "Kyrie." Aiken crooned and signed autographs through the crowd, and by the time he joined his white-clad band and backup singers, a full-on "Up With People" vibe was in effect. Aiken did a great job connecting with his fans, bringing little kids on stage, chatting on fan's cell phone and lauding the crowd's enthusiasm at every opportunity. His connection to the songs he sang was a bit more tenuous, however.
Whether aiming for bouncy on " A Perfect Day" or a love-lorn feel on " No More Sad Songs", Aiken kept coming up neutral. His by-the-numbers set was harmless enough untill he tackled Prince's "When Doves Cry." When done right, that slow-burning jam can throw off a ton of heat. Aiken's rendition came across more like a Saturday Night Live parody of white guys singing soul music.
As a singer, Clarkson covered more range than Aiken. Sharing the same band Aiken used, Clarkson opened her set with "Low," and fished for some credibility by strumming guitar on the tune.
Clarkson also took chances, pumping up TTWLI with a harder-hitting outro, and toning down "Beautiful Disaster" into a simple piano ballad. Her effort to recast "Anytime," a duet she recorded with former Idol star Justin Guarini went haywire when she and her male couterpart from the ranks of the backup singers veered horribly off-key and had to restart the song.
Clarkson regained momentum for a strong closing run through her hits AMLT & MI.
And not an adolescent vocal cord was left intact when Aiken reappeared to join Clarkson for a night-ending version of Journey's "Open Arms."
Singing over-the-top versions of old hits by other people is AI at its most basic. Seeing Aiken & Clarkson go down that road for the big closing number of their first post-Idol tour makes one wonder just how interested in independence they really are.
Mar 11 04 7:59 PM
Quote: A Telegraph Column By Stacy Milbouer
Published: Thursday, Mar. 11, 2004
File photo by The Associated Press
Clay Aiken, shown here performing in Charlotte, N.C., showed why America has fallen in love with him at Mondays concert in Worcester, Mass.
I shaved my legs for Clay Aiken on Monday night, and I was not alone.
The hordes of women (there was barely a man in sight) who crammed the Centrum in Worcester, Mass., for the Clay Aiken/Kelly Clarkson concert not only shaved, but shampooed, perfumed and as the Fab Five would put it tszujed like crazy, just to be in the presence of the unofficial winner of last years American Idol contest.
Yes, I know, Kelly Clarkson was on the bill, too, and she was good. But no one, not anyone should follow Aiken on stage. Its like eating Jell-O for dessert after feasting on Duck a lOrange.
And trust me, this Duck a lOrange had them swooning in the aisles.
After the concert, two of my five companions admitted the thought had crossed their minds, that Aiken was the messiah who had come to Earth to lift us up in these depressing times.
OK, that might be going too far, but there is no doubt that Aiken has It with a capital I, and the age range this guy appeals to is almost as wide as his vocal range. Infants held by postpartum Claymates seemed lulled to sleep by Aikens This is the Night. Teen girls traveling in packs with spotlights reflecting off their braces carried signs imploring someone to Get Me Back Stage. And let us not forget those among us who have reached middle age and last remember feeling this hypnotized when we polished our go-go boots while listening to the new Beatles 65 album.
Yes, the same people who pulled their hair out when Paul McCartney sang Yesterday on The Ed Sullivan Show 40 years ago were swooning when Aiken belted out his No. 1 Invisible. Its hard to believe the live New England debut of that song took place a mere seven months ago when Aiken, Ruben Studdard and the other Idolites took to the Centrum stage last summer for a schlocked-up American Idol tour.
Talk about meteoric rises: Aikens spiky little head must be spinning. But youd never know it watching him perform. If there is one thing better than his voice, its his stage presence. This guy sang his guts out, signed autographs, ducked beach balls and never broke a sweat. In fact, he was so comfortable with the screaming throngs of estrogen-emitting females that he seemed to want to clone himself, sit down and watch the show right along with them.
Instead, he did the next best thing. He dished with them, at one point plucking a cell phone held up by a fan who was sharing the concert with her at-home buddy. And, as if he were talking to his best friend in Raleigh, N.C., he said hi in the cutest southern accent this side of the Mason Dixon.
Thats right, he said. Its me, its Clay. Whatch yall doing? Whats your name? Debbie? Hi, Debbie . . .
Debbie went wild. Her friend went wild. The audience was on its feet as it was when Aiken brought to the stage a 5-year-old girl who held up a sign that read Please Let Me Sing with Clay. The two did an impromptu duet of When You Say You Love Me, and as Aiken himself put it, the 5-year-old knew the lyrics better than I did.
Life is a strange when you become off-the-charts jealous of a kindergartner.
Whats there to say? He can sing the sparkly eyeshadow off a teenybopper and curl the thinning hair of a grandmother with just one note of Carry You. Its about his voice, of course. But its also about his Southern drawl, his paintbrush eyelashes and the fact that he actually seems as nice and innocent as his press package makes him out to be.
And lets face it: For some reason, this gawky boy-man with a sea-urchin hairdo, giant feet and 6-foot-plus frame is downright sexy. He knows this and appears to be embarrassed by this and that makes him even more appealing. The audience nearly dropped dead when he did a little bump and grind with one of his background vocalists, then blushed a deep shade of red.
As for Clarkson, who followed on stage after Aikens hourlong performance . . . whatever. One teenage girl behind me summed it all up: I was, like, so falling asleep with Kelly. I was feeling a little depressed. Then Clay showed up again, and I was, like, all excited again.
Sad, but true.
The highlight of Clarksons performance was her closing duet of Open Arms with you guessed it Clay Aiken
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