Search this Topic:
Oct 29 04 9:45 PM
Clay, Ruben: Record-Store Rematch
by Joal Ryan
Jun 20, 2003, 6:00 PM PT
Call it: Clay versus Ruben--round three.
The mismatched American Idol finalists, who have vied for votes on TV and pole position on the singles chart, will next go throat-to-throat August 19.
That's the just-scheduled release date for the pair's respective debut albums, Billboard.com reported Friday.
The stocky Ruben Studdard, 24, claimed round one of their competition. He edged fellow Southerner Clay Aiken, also 24, by 134,400 votes for the Idol title on May 21. Studdard's victory was watched by nearly 34 million people--more than last March's Oscars.
The gangly Aiken took the next round. His first single, "This Is the Night," teamed with a cover of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," debuted this week atop Billboard's Hot 100 chart, selling 393,000 copies.
That's more than Kelly Clarkson, American Idol's first-season champ, sold last September with her single debut, "A Moment Like This." It's more than any artist has sold in one week since Elton John got the waterworks going with his "Candle in the Wind" tribute to the late Princess Diana in 1997. Clarkson moved 236,000 copies; John, an unprecedented 3.5 million.
While Studdard was outdone by Aiken on the charts, he wasn't that outdone. The 205-area-code booster's first single, "Flying Without Wings," coupled with "Superstar," moved a not-so-skinny 286,000 copies, good for second place on the Billboard Hot 100.
Both Aiken and Studdard were awarded contracts with the RCA Music Group even before the final votes were announced on Fox's Idol closer. Judge Simon Cowell issued the early challenge to the pair's fans, announcing on the episode that their albums would hit stores at the same time.
As the official winner, Studdard's deal with RCA's J Records, label to fellow R&B crooner Luther Vandross, was pegged at $1 million.
Runner-up Aiken was assigned to RCA, Clarkson's recording home. The dollar value of his deal was not known.
To be sure, Aiken's getting more than his money's worth in publicity. In addition to the nation's number one single, he's the nation's Rolling Stone coverboy.
In an interview in the just released July 10 issue, Aiken reveals he likes spaghetti Bolognese, dislikes cats and thinks of estranged biological father, Vernon Grissom, as nothing more than a "sperm donor."
In other Idol developments, Aiken and Studdard, their star status approximately six months old, both now have spokespeople. (Actually, per Rolling Stone, Aiken has two publicists and a bodyguard.)
Less Aiken and Studdard forget Idols can be toppled, they may want to take in a screening this weekend of From Justin to Kelly. Plenty of seats available.
The beach-party flick, starring Clarkson and first-season runner-up Justin Guarini, was dropped into multiplexes Friday without the benefit of critics' screenings. (See: Not a Good Sign, Part I.)
And, despite the efforts of the 1,000-plus Netizens who added their names to an online petition requesting a soundtrack release, the movie--a musical, with, you know, music--was not immortalized in soundtrack form. (See: Not a Good Sign, Part II.)
There was talk that the record people didn't want a soundtrack to detract from the June 10 release of Guarini's self-titled solo debut. That collection bowed on the Billboard chart this week in 20th place, having sold just 54,000 copies.
See: Not a Good Sign, Part III--The Final Chapter?
Oct 29 04 9:48 PM
American Idol: The Unlikely Idols
by James Shepherd (2003/06/20)
How can the "powers that be" make the most out of the American Idol 2 phenomenon? Well, we have our traditional tour of the American Idol contestants coming up for the summer. We have the ability to buy tickets and see live performances of the American Idol 2 performers in most large urban centers in North America with some glaring exceptions. But so what?
A Dynamite Tour
A reader of one of my previous articles suggested that having a really blockbuster live tour would be having one with the top three contestants for American Idol 2: Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken, and Kimerley Locke. But why stop there? A really fabulous tour would feature not only the top three contestants from American Idol 2, but also those American Idol 1 contestants that have recorded albums. Imagine what the draw would be if the following performers were combined in one show to perform across the continent: Kelly Clarkson, Tamyra Gray, Justin Guarini, Ruben Studdard, Clay Aiken and Kimberley Locke?
I am not one who generally likes to go to live performances, but I assure you that if the above billing were coming to anywhere within 100 miles of me, I would attend. Such a performance would be absolute dynamite. I wonder if those powers that be have ever considered arranging such a tour? If money can be made from touring live performances, then such a tour should be considered for the upcoming year. A ticket to one would make a great Christmas or birthday gift.
It begs the question as to where the most money is made. In other words, are tours conducted in order to increase sales of recordings, or, are recording made in order to create successful live touring performances? The costs involved in touring must be tremendous even through gross revenues may appear large; so perhaps the answer is found here.
American Idol created a huge and perhaps unprecedented audience through the medium of television. If such a tour as the one described above is out of the question, then alternatively taking these six performers and creating a 2-hour special made for television should be more feasible. Such a television special could be almost guaranteed a viewing audience of 20 million people minimum. The American Idol audience wants to hear these people perform their music. It wants to hear them perform great songs and great songs in their full length by not being cheated by shortened versions. A 2-hour special for these six performers would give them more than enough time to accomplish this goal. How about it powers that be? The only one without an album specifically scheduled is Kimberley Locke, but I doubt we will have to wait long for this lady to be signed up. Shall we wait until then?
Movie Idea for Clay and Ruben
There has been brief discussion about Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard making some sort of movie deal if the right script can be found. Well, surely a beach movie is out of the question, and I do hope that an Abott&Costello-type one will be too. Let us face it, can these two act? What does the public really want?
As far as I can determine, there are two things that the American Idol fans would like to get out of further media presentation of Clay and Ruben: (1) We would like to know more about these two people; (2) We would like to hear them sing more too. But how can a movie accomplish such a goal?
Whether it is a full-length feature film, or a movie made for television, both of these goals can be accomplished. Here is how it could be done: A documentary style file could be made on these two called, "The Unlikely Idols." The title says it all. Who would have expected that just six months ago that a large black man from Alabama, and a skinny, nerdy white fellow from North Carolina would have record-breaking singles released at this time? This is an unbelievable success story and one that could be so wonderfully portrayed on film in documentary fashion. Clayï¿½s transformation alone would be so intriguing to see ï¿½ for Peteï¿½s sake, he is now on the cover of the Rolling Stone and he is no longer a skinny nerd. How did this happen?
Fox has most of the film needed for this documentary. The rest can be filmed through interviews with the various people in the lives of these two young men. The first hour of this film would concentrate on their rise from where they were, which was virtual obscurity, all the way through the process of initial auditions, right through to the end when they both landed the winning contracts promised.
The second part of the film would show them each singing a selection of songs from their albums but in a venue with a live audience. Such a film would surely be a drawing card for many people. It would not have to be released as a feature film to be shown at theatres, but it could be produced for television, followed up by a video release. There are just so many ways that a film of this nature could be marketed. How could something like this fail? Is this not what the public really wants? For whatever medium is chosen, there will be money to be made for the powers that be and who control the careers of these two fabulous singer-performers, not to mention making the public very happy indeed.
Food for thought, but not for indigestion?
Oct 29 04 9:50 PM
Was the final voting on American Idol handled fairly? Each candidate was assigned a toll-free number. To vote, viewers called the number of their preferred candidate within a limited time period. But both lines were swamped the entire time. I could never get through. So how could we know which candidate would have received the most votes?
We couldn't. In that case, all we could measure is the slight difference between the capacities of the two toll-free numbers during that period. If a system cannot process all the votes within the time frame allotted, a nearly even outcome is guaranteed. In other words, one candidate could have twice the number of fans, but we'd never know it. They would never be able to get through the system to vote.
Oct 29 04 9:51 PM
Ruben and Clay break old ground on new singles
By Renee Graham, Globe Staff, 6/21/2003
Not daring to tamper with the unstoppable machine that is ''American Idol,'' the debut singles released last week from this year's winner, Ruben Studdard, and runner-up, Clay Aiken, feature songs both performed during the heavily viewed (and excessively discussed) competition, which concluded last month. Debut albums from both Studdard and Aiken are scheduled for release in August.
Studdard kicks things off with his big soulful ballad, ''Flying Without Wings,'' and he sings it better here than he did on the show, thanks perhaps to the wonders of studio wizardry. Studdard's voice sounds higher and tighter, giving his occasionally monotone baritone much-needed range. And he's on key through the whole song, which was not the case on the season finale.
On the B-side, he revives his cover of Luther Vandross's version of the Carpenters' ''Superstar,'' which is perfectly serviceable, but Studdard does nothing to make the song his own. He even mimics many of Vandross's improvisations, making him less the ''Velvet Teddy Bear,'' as Gladys Knight dubbed him, than Teddy Ruxpin, that mechanical toy bear, following a prerecorded script.
Selling 286,000 copies, Studdard's songs debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard singles chart - right behind Aiken's, which sold a startling 393,000 copies. Aiken's rendition of ''Bridge Over Troubled Water'' is fine, at least when you can hear his vocals.
The little geeky guy with the big voice is almost overwhelmed by a gospel choir and a swirling, over-the-top orchestral production that could have capsized Ethel Merman. There's no dramatic tension, no slow burn to the great crescendo since Aiken and Co. shoot for lung-busting bombast out of the box. Aiken fares better on ''This Is the Night.'' Sounding as if it would be very much at home on a Celine Dion CD, the song isn't especially interesting or challenging, but at least Aiken doesn't sound like he's running to keep from being steamrolled by it.
Oct 29 04 9:52 PM
After the Idol phone vote hang-up, Aiken's fans weigh in again.
Frustrated by endless busy signals, American Idol's diehard fans are voting a second time -- with their wallets. And this time the winner is runner-up Clay Aiken. Presale orders for the geek turned icon's CD single rocketed it to the top spot of Amazon.com's Top Sellers list "literally overnight," says Amazon's Jeff Somers, "We posted it for sale on May 17, and it was the No. 1 the next day."
"What' really amazing," says Amazon's Ling Hong, "is that it means people wanted to buy the record even before they heard [Aiken] sing those songs" on May 20, the last night of competition. Both Aiken's "Bridge Over Troubled Water"/"This Is the Night" and Idol 2 winner Ruben Studdard's "Flying Without Wings"/"Superstar" singles had a June 10 relese date. As of June 4, Aiken was outselling Studdard four to one and selling twice as many singles as last year's winner, Kelly Clarkson, did during the same period.
Fox, clearly wishing the phone vote controversy would go away, was surprised to hear of the Amazon sales figures but refused to say much about the jammed phone lines or even the possibility of using an Internet voting mechanism for Idol 3 in January. "Twenty-four million people were able to get through," says Fox's Scott Grogin. But only with a degree of difficulty, if at all. "The week before the finale, I got through 33 times," says Aiken fan Susan Yackley, 51, a Los Angeles businesswoman. "But on the last night, I could only get through once. They're going to have to revisit the technology if they want a more representative sample of the real vote." -- Deborah Starr Seibel
Oct 29 04 9:55 PM
Everybody loves the "Idols"
TV show has big impact on entertainment scene
By VINCENT JACKSON Staff Writer,
The "American Idol" national TV talent show ended its season weeks ago. It seems as though it never left.
Its stars are heard on radio, interviewed on television, grace magazine covers, star in movies and sell out in music stores and concert arenas.
Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, the top two finishers from last year's "American Idol" contest, are starring in a film titled "From Justin to Kelly," now playing in local theaters. This year's winner and runner-up, Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, currently have the top two singles in the country, and Aiken is on the cover of this week's Rolling Stone magazine.
If "American Idol" was created to launch show business careers, it's doing a good job. It's also doing a good job re-starting some careers.
An unexpected result of the show is the career boost it is giving to songwriters whose music was sung by "Idol" contestants and who appeared as guest judges. The Bee Gees, Lionel Richie, and Earth, Wind & Fire seem to have benefited from the exposure through a rise in karaoke requests for their songs, more radio airplay and increased CD sales.
All this is fueled by the show's fans, both avid and casual, who admire the "Idol" performers and the songs they sing.
'I want my Idol'
Marge Schmeltzer, 31, of Somers Point, for instance, has almost all of the albums and singles put out by "Idol" contestants and plans to buy more. She buys magazines with articles on "Idol" performers and would have bought tickets to the "American Idols Live" show coming to Philadelphia if she had known about it in time. As for the film "From Justin to Kelly" that opened this weekend, she'll be there whether film critics like it or not.
"I don't do drugs. I don't drink. Let me have my American Idol," said Schmeltzer, a wife and mother of two.
Pamela Bauta, 36, of Manahawkin has a more singular focus. She loved Aiken the minute she saw the video of him auditioning for "Idol." Bauta, a wife and mother of four, didn't miss an episode of the series this year and even started voting. She downloaded all of Aiken's performances and created a CD from them that she listens to all the time. She's also addicted to the "Clay Board" message board
"I bought three copies of Clay's single, and I am planning on buying the Rolling Stone issue ... maybe two - one to read and one to save," Bauta said. "I thought he had the most beautiful voice, and his somewhat geeky looks didn't bother me too much."Idol's coattails
The show has also been good for recordings artists popular in the 1960s, '70s and '80s whose songs were sung by the contestants. Some shows were dedicated entirely to the music of one songwriter, some of whom appeared as guest judges.
Lionel Richie, for instance, had the advantage of appearing on "American Idol" in April after he released a 20-track, single CD greatest hits collection, titled "The Definitive Collection," said John Feehan, manager of the FYE store in Mays Landing.
"He's (Richie) selling at least as well as Earth, Wind & Fire and probably best of all the guest judges," Feehan said. "It's still selling pretty well."
"The Essential Earth, Wind & Fire," a two-CD, greatest hits package, was released in July. Dave Henninger, owner of Vibrations in North Cape May, said he has sold a few copies of the collection in recent weeks. The group's bassist made appearances on the recent "Idol" during disco night and on the final show of the season.
Besides the possibility of selling more CDs, "Idol" guest judges are more likely to have their songs sung during bar karaoke nights.
Curtis Ray Seitz, 29, of Somers Point, who is commonly known as Ramblin' Ray, brings karaoke versions of the "American Idol" love songs CD with him when he hosts a five-hour karaoke session every Wednesday at Di Orio's in Somers Point.
Ray sang a tender version of the Brian McKnight song "Back at One" Wednesday in between the tavern's customers attempting "Margaritaville," "Unchain My Heart," "Are You Lonesome Tonight" and other songs with varying degrees of success. "Back at One" is one of the songs on the classic love songs CD.
Rays said "American Idol" has influenced the song choices during his karaoke gigs. In recent weeks, he has noticed more requests than usual for Motown songs and tunes written by Richie. ("American Idol" contestants sang two hours of Motown songs in March, and Richie was a guest host in April.)
"There was a contestant who sang the Edwin McCain song 'I'll Be' this year, and I wound up trying it myself," Ray said.
Alphonso Glass, commonly known as "Big Al," noticed more of his white customers have been requesting Motown songs since the second "Idol" show debuted this year, even though those 1960s pop hits are always popular with karaoke crowds. He hosts karaoke nights on Wednesdays at the Flagship in Atlantic City and Thursdays at Wash's Inn in Pleasantville.
"Things have also picked up for the Bee Gees. Black customers have been singing the Bee Gees since the show," Al said. ("American Idol" contestants sang an hour of Bee Gees songs when Robin Gibb was a guest host last month.)
Radio isn't immune to the influence of "American Idol" either.
Light-rock radio station WFPG-FM 96.9 out of Northfield had a "light rock entertainment report" that covered the previous night's events on "American Idol."
"The Bee Gees went into light rotation after a whole hour of their music was heard on 'American Idol,'" said Gary Guida, the station's program director.
Classic-rock radio station WMGM-FM 103.7, out of Linwood, offers a "Breakfast with the Beatles" show from 9 a.m. to noon on Sundays. Primarily, people ranging from 25 to 55 call to request a song during that show, said Michael James, the station's promotion director. He noticed more teenagers calling making Beatles request when "American Idol" contestants performed Beatles songs.
"It exposes a song," James said. "'Imagine,' we got a lot of requests for. Ruben sang it."
Oct 29 04 9:57 PM
Jun. 23 - RALEIGH - Clay Aiken, the Raleigh native son who finished second on the American Idol 2 television show, has signed with Miami-based Greenberg Traurig, which has a high-powered entertainment law practice based in Atlanta.
Greenberg Traurig's roster of clients includes artists such as country stars Alan Jackson and Willie Nelson, pop diva Sheryl Crow, blues legend B.B. King and comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
Jess Rosen, a partner who works in the Atlanta office, will act as Aiken's entertainment lawyer. The firm on June 11 signed on to represent Aiken in all facets of his entertainment career, Rosen says.
"I think I'm fortunate that he picked me to represent him," Rosen says. "I think he's going to be a career artist. I don't believe this will be a flash in the pan."
Rosen declined to comment on the terms of Aiken's record deal.
Gus Gusler, a Raleigh-based entertainment lawyer, says that Aiken made a good choice in picking Greenberg Traurig.
"Those guys are as good as it gets," says Gusler. Aiken is "in good hands. I wish he was in mine, but he's in good hands."
The law firm already has helped Raleigh's budding pop star set up a limited liability company based in Raleigh called Clay Aiken Entertainment. The corporate entity will furnish Aiken's services to third-party organizations, Rosen says.
The 24-year-old Aiken, whose picture graces the cover of Rolling Stone magazine this month, has signed a recording contract on RCA Records through Simon Fuller's 19 Recordings Limited.
His first double A side single, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and "This is the Night" debuted June 10. It sold about 393,000 copies domestically last week, according to Nielsen Soundscan, which tracks U.S. retail record sales.
That beat the 286,000 copies sold of "Flying Without Wings/Superstar," the single from Ruben Studdard, who beat out Aiken to win the American Idol 2 competition.
According to Greenberg Traurig's Web site, the firm drafts and negotiates record, publishing, producer, management, distribution, touring, merchandising, corporate sponsorship, license and Internet agreements for its entertainment clients.
Aiken is working on recording an album planned for a September release, Rosen says.
While Aiken is a hot commodity now, Gusler says it's no guarantee he'll make a lot of money off the record deal. Most deals for new artists are structured in favor of the record company, he says. "He's going to earn the record company a lot of money," Gusler says. "How much he'll get, I don't know."
Gusler did not make a pitch for Aiken's business, though he made it known that he was available. He represents the recording group Hootie & the Blowfish.
Oct 29 04 10:03 PM
Marilyn vos Savant Tackles the AI Voting Issue
by David Bloomberg -- 06/23/2003
The question of whether the final vote on American Idol was fair has been discussed by many of us, but this weekend it was tackled by Marilyn vos Savant, the woman with the highest IQ in the world. Did she think it was fair?
Well, American Idol has really hit the big leagues now. Marilyn vos Savant, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records Hall of Fame for "Highest IQ," and columnist for Parade magazine, this weekend tackled the question of whether or not the AI final vote was fair. Her verdict? No.
The question, from Carl Castrianni of Texas, described the process of toll-free phone numbers and said, "both lines were swamped the entire time. So how could we know which candidate would have received the most votes?"
Marilyn answers the same thing I've been saying for a while: "We couldn't." She says all that was really measured is "the slight difference between the capacities of the two toll-free numbers during that period." As I noted in my article written before the final results were announced:
Fox did not open up enough phone line capacity to truly measure America's vote. If the phone lines were jam packed for both of them throughout the entire three-hour period, how on earth can we measure which had more votes? We have used up the entire capacity. If the phone lines can only accept, say, five million calls per number per hour, then we are going to find out that both Ruben and Clay received 15 million votes each. The only difference might be in whether people stayed on the line a fraction of a second longer to hear for sure that their vote was registered properly.
Marilyn worked with the same logic, noting that "one candidate could have twice the number of fans, but we'd never know it."
So, there we have it, right? The voting system has been declared worthless by the person with the world's highest IQ.
But there's one problem -- she and/or Mr. Castrianni forgot a crucial point. Calls in on the toll-free numbers were not the only way people could vote. They could also use AT&T text messaging, which did not get "busy" signals.
Unfortunately, here is where we come to an issue that makes it impossible to fully explore this line of reasoning -- Fox does not give out information on how many votes came from phone calls and how many came from text messaging. It's possible that there was no difference at all in the number of phone calls received and the entire gap between Ruben's total and Clay's was made up by text messages. I personally find this unlikely, but we really have no way to judge.
But really, the text message votes only distracts from the main point -- Fox needs to do something to make its voting system more representative of the viewing public. Sales for Clay's and Ruben's singles show that Clay is currently the big "winner" as far as actual purchases go, which I think is a better measure of who is the "Idol" than phone-in votes and text messages. For one thing, people are unlikely to buy more than the number of CDs they actually need. Since we can't rely on sales for every vote, we have to look at other possibilities. The fact is that the technology is there to use phone-in votes and text messaging without opening the floodgates. All American Girl, despite its many flaws, put a limit on the number of votes per phone (as if anybody was really that dedicated for that show anyway). Fame put a five-vote-per-phone limit on as well.
I'm glad to see the point addressed in an intelligent way by a major media columnist, but the fact is that you don't need to be the smartest person in the world to see that there is a problem. You do, however, apparently need to be smarter than the folks at Fox.
Oct 29 04 10:21 PM
Quote: Clay Aiken: The First Web Idol
by Alexandra Corbin -- 06/23/2003
Clay Aiken might not have won the title of "American Idol," but that just gave his fans more to work on! The show may have introduced him to us, but it's his web-based fans that truly have made him an idol.
It's now more than four weeks later -- and Clay's CD is out, mostly sold out. He's outsold Ruben by more than 100,000 copies and he looks sexually mauled in the Rolling Stone shoot and loving it. For the first time in years, a single premiered at #1. So you have to begin wondering, did this guy kiss the Blarney Stone or something?
The answer is decidedly "no!" Despite the 45 million viewers netted by 19 Entertainment to launch their gawky yearlings, the phenomenon of the String Bean from the South is largely web-propelled through the devoted networking of miffed fans with a plan. Estrogen-based, their addiction to the Aiken message boards has turned pre-finale yakking about hip thrusts, red jackets, and hair spikiness into a savvy, sleek, and unstoppable public relations and marketing dynamo that takes care of Aiken business. Not RCA and not 19 Entertainment. Sorry Simon, Simon, Nigel, Shona, and Clive.
Their frenzied energy, dare I say, sexually charged, first erupted on message boards like Bolt in early March. With 19's gag order, there wasn't a whole lot of information to trade in the BF (Before Finale) days. Not much dirt, not much background info on the guy except allergies to shellfish, mint, chocolate, and deep water. But it was just enough for each femme to transfer their vision of Mr. Perfect and hallucinate. Thud!!
So the topics on these boards were blueprints of five minutes before and even three days before. They'd discuss the rumors, they'd list his hottest parts like a steer diagram in a butcher shop -- except they'd get up close and personal after 9pm when the minors had turned in -- or so they thought. Things would get pretty sweaty then. Some lap dancing, a lot of dressing and undressing, mostly the latter. I gotta ask you, Clay, weren't you a tad freaked? I'm sure you knew.
"Is clay distracting you? he is me! i'm supposed to be working on math stuff! my teachers say "i know you're thinking about clay right now but could you please answer the question" !"
But even in those early weeks, the girls had begun to organize. First there was the "two hour pledge." You had to commit to two hours of calling on Tuesday night and report back the next morning for the famous roll call. What did this willow whip with a tuft of red hair trigger in women whose lives suddenly began to glow when they took on monikers like cybersunday, pjpjpjp, cookiedog, dancermom, deanie1475, lipbite and missmissy? Yes, the story here is how a coterie of hopeful fans watched their Idol contestant morph and decided to morph with him.
On May 22nd the message boards took on a new urgency. Pin the outfit on Clay yielded to a frenzied exhortation to list all Clay sightings and to bombard Star Jones, RCA, and Neil Sedaka about the forthcoming CD and to chastise the preternaturally arrogant Carson Daly on his attitude toward their beloved. Yes, that dreary morning, the girls had a collective epiphany. Together they could influence the industry, select the songs, drive the Clay train, and bring it into the berth marked #1. They merely had to find their way, and find their power and the fuel stoking that brand new engine was their pure red-hot cuckolded anger.
"NOW here's the challenge....lets keep it up and add more! I've posted a list of very influential radio stations around the country in bigger markets. Your mission, if you choose to accept is to start now and go down this list or URL's throughout your day and request Clay's TITN on each of them. All those who accept this mission please post a reply... chuga chuga CHOO CHOO!"
They were hopping mad, which 19 had happily anticipated, and were determined to get their boy the win that he rightfully deserved -- change that to the win that they deserved! Clutching cyber hands they could say, "Don't mess with us you oily record execs, we may be tiny little will o' the wisps alone, but through this board we shall walk on you yet!"
"Our goal is to get Clay the air time and recognition that he so deserves. Regardless of his "runner up" status on American Idol, we don't see him that way."
What has this guy triggered in these women from Singapore to the UK and down across the heartland of America, that will never let them give up, give in, or just pass out? Their monikers and blipping icons are famous now, some man the night shift;
"Hi DayClays- It's CJ from the NightTrain w/an update of what happened last night: Okay, we all descend on the board around the time of JoJo's show (7 pm on the west coast/10 pm on the east coast). We do our usual great job of getting out the vote."
Others lead the early morning cheerleading squad. We all know them; who gets the most emails off, who gathers the most effective phone numbers, who calls the roll, who stays up late to bother L.A. DJs.
"What are our goals for today. Any vulnerable spots we need to shore up? We need to be organized today with reports of progress coming in etc. Thoughts? dancermom2 can you lead us today???"
First, their motives varied in nuance -- rarely in kind. Initially, some wandered to the board because Clay's singing brought "them back to life." One case stands out, a woman whose husband had recently passed away and whose talented son had died in an accident. She morphed from a frightened visitor to a very proactive component of the web-powered club, obsessive perhaps, but renewed. She was the one who thought everyone could contribute 100 bucks and actually buy out 19's contract on their favorite stud. Eeez possible. Why not? They came to the message boards to share breathless fantasy dates and ended up breaking and remaking the rules of the industry. Individually they would could never have dreamed this, but through this sisterhood, they felt a kind of support to brave the big bad world and take it on. Call it Fledglings Anonymous.
"Hi ClayThud...I am leaving in a couple of minutes to go to take my youngest to school... but Chicago I think is still an issue! There are always cheerleaders that come on at one point or another! Let me go look for Lylkeria's post!"
At first, there were those evangelical phrases. Talk of renewal, rebirth, values. Was it his Southern Baptist thing, his "God will put me where I should be" faith? You did see a fair amount of posts like, "He's like an angel," or, "So good, so decent." And, sure, they loved his voice. But it was the interactive discovery, the Rocky Story #5 that they took full responsibility for and which gave them a reason to live. Sorry ladies, just admit it, the board drew you out and got your spirit flying. You quickly forgot about morality and clean livin'.
"Even us older gals...I'm supposed to be working...but can't stay away from the boards and all of the news! I have to figure out how I can listen to the radio and call the stations to request that they play Clay's songs (without the boss knowing!)"
And they were never fools. I made typos on my posts and they edited me. If I mentioned something intentionally erudite -- they got it. Forgive me, I was just trying to figure them out. The only time they didn't get it was if I made an indifferent comment about the boy and they called me a BASHER.
Here were women ages 13-103 (as one calls herself), who seemed a bit frustrated, perhaps under-needed and with some energy to spare. But in AF (after finale days) they have become hard-nosed entrepreneurs through Clay. Call him the company business; they own stock in him and take full responsibility in making him.
"Z100 and KIIS-FM especially are notorious for breaking in new music and artists, SO GREAT WORK GUYS!!!"
If they vote and harass the DJs then Clay stock goes up and they feel they have increased the value of their IPO. If they stalk the Walmart aisles and can report how many CDs are left in the Ruben rack, or even stash them in the bra section, then they can race home, hit the board and get the kudos from their business associates.
Coming in second is the best thing that could have happened for them, forget about Clay. That's right. They came in second. They exchange self-indulgent, high-five cyber slaps about who bothered what station, about their mutual devotion, and repost clips and email lists, telephone numbers, entertainment executive names, agents, jpgs, and yes, they still dress and undress him.
"My children think I have gone over the edge and right now I'm at work - all I want to do is get on this board and figure out how I can help to make Clay more famous so I can listen to his voice for the rest of my life."
Imagine what Claymates have accomplished surreptitiously, out of the demeaning stares of their partners though the faceless medium of the web and how gutsy the individual has become in this group-driven effort. Where before could a shy woman pick up a phone and call Susan, the musical director of AI, or Larry , his agent, or try to get through to Nigel the ex-dancer or together convince RCA that their first choice of "On The Wings Of Love" was really lame. I mean we're talking the American Dream here. The Clay boards built the first cottage entertainment industry!
"Keep up the pressure. Take the time to let the media hear from you personally: Here are the emails and links, use them!!!"
Yes, they certainly have morphed from the timid first-time visitor with a girlish crush to a fire brand with a will and talent to organize that would put Bush and Blair people to shame. Yes, indeed.
"WE CAN'T LET UP NOW!!THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT WEEK!!!! We've Achieved the coveted TRIPLE CROWN in one night...TOPS on NYC, ATLANTA, and LOS ANGELES, nighttime countdowns....This is a vital and crucial way to get Clay exposure quickly and help move his song into rotations on radio stations around the country."
Notice the savvy lingo there? And finally, why Clay and not Ruben as the cyber King? There is no doubt that boards such as Bolt have propelled Clay, not Ruben, into the star firmament. That has a good deal to do with his fan base and who Clay is himself. After all, Clay knows how to play the web. He is the one contestant you always saw with his laptop, and the one who had Raleigh ladies plugged into the boards -- either intentionally or not, I think intentionally, but I'm just naturally suspicious.
Even if Clay proclaims he wasn't competitive and only wanted to win the top three, he was smart enough to have his very good friend, Amanda (and her Mom), play the boards and correct the fallacy about the Vincent debacle. And he got to her rather fast. Smart? You bet. Did he tell her to play the boards? Clay is no bimbo. He sensed the need of these woman to go to work for him. Forget singing, Clay, you have a political career waiting in the wings.
And did it work? Well, duh! They would have called like crazy for him anyway, but it just brought the living breathing idol closer to them, within a finger's touch. THUD!! This indirect channel to Clay gave them a tangible and visible reward for their efforts: That he knew what they were doing for him, that he could be on the boards hovering, smiling appreciatively, giggling. The payoff for everyone involved was this enormous surge of power, this daunting moneymaking machine in the figure of a geek on a half shell, emerging as God on Billboard's top 10! But just remember who was opening and closing the half shell: cookiedoe, pjpjpj, and dancermom!
Days before the finale, the posts were rueful and nostalgic about what they would do after all these wonderful new friends had disbanded and disappeared into the air. Clearly, Clay Web Idol had become the figurehead for group therapy, a venue to share. They poured out their hearts. They ate lunch together.
"I'm making lunch! What would you like?!?! (Pen and paper in hand :) )
Suzique, no chance of Clay disappearing. He is filling a HUGE void in today's music scene."
Yes, he filled a huge void. Not just in the music scene. But for these women especially who came out of themselves because of the anonymous web and worked it to produce the very first WEB IDOL. Sorry Clay, this might be too much to shoulder. Best stay in the mountains and rub sticks together. The girls are busy spinning gold for you. When you emerge, they should be able to accept your imperfections because they have done some serious growing of their own, and are ready to move on. Maybe they should incorporate. I'll mention it on the board this week. Yeah, I have a silly moniker too.
Oct 29 04 10:30 PM
Quote:Clay In Touch
June 23, 2003
Clay Fights Back
A winner in defeat: Clay insists he harbors no bitterness towards Ruben, despite claims Idol was fixed.
Clay may look like a pushover but TV's Mr. Nice Guy is about to show a different side.
They said he was robbed, but Clay Aiken is feeling stronger than ever following his controversial defeat on American Idol. The singing sensation -- whose loss to Ruben Studdard caused a national outcry -- broke his silence in an exclusive interview with In Touch.
"I'm definitely ambitious", Clay insisted, talking from his current base in LA. He added defiantly, "I came out almost as well as Ruben."
Clay's mom, Faye said, "I want these young kids who are crying because he didn't win to feel better because he got what he wanted, and he is a winner. Clayton's happy and I'm happy." And he has good reason to be. The 24 year old, who hails from Raleigh, NC, recently landed a lucrative deal with RCA records, and his debut CD, This Is The Night, is easily outselling Ruben's Flying Without Wings in advance orders on Amazon.com.
Idol's grand finale, which drew more than 28 million viewers, was marred by complaints that people could not get through to vote for Clay. But the humble hero refused to be drawn into the scandal, saying he was focusing only on the positive.
"I've been busier since the show's been over than I was when we were on the show," Clay told In Touch, insisting he has no plans to slow down his hectic schedule.
"I don't think about how close it was," he said, "It's not frustrating at all. If I had won, people would be saying, 'Did the right man win?' too. I appreciate that people wanted me to win."
This week Ruben's family launched an attack on Clay, branding him a sore loser and a sissy. Brian Studdard, Ruben's uncle, stormed, "Clay is a bad loser. He had pink and white furniture in his room. He's not the sort of guy you'd chose to be an American Idol"
The singer's aunt, Sylvia Studdard, added, "I don't care if he's outselling Ruben in the charts. People should just accept it. He didn't win and he's not the American Idol -- Ruben is."
Nevertheless, Clay had nothing but praise for his singing buddy. Asked if Ruben minded the attention he is getting Clay replied, "He seems to be fine with it."
Later this year, Clay plans to move to LA permanently, a perfect place to jump-start his career. He wants to share an apartment with close pal Kimberly Locke, who came in third on the show. In the meantime, Clay managed to squeeze in a quick trip home and hit the beach without getting mobbed by fans.
"As far as I'm concerned, I got to win too," he said of his experience. Talk about a a perfect gentleman.
Clay's All Heart
Despite his superstar status, Clay isn't letting fame go to his head.
The kind-hearted singer - who has worked for years with children affected by autism - is setting up a charity for youngsters with special needs.
Diane Bubel, whose 13-year old son, Mike, was looked after by Clay, told In Touch, "I'm just pinching myself -- did all of this really happen to him?"
Clay's interest in helping the disabled has resulted in an increase in donations to his two pet causes, the YMCA and the Autism Society. He has vowed to continue raising money
Oct 29 04 10:31 PM
Clay Aiken: The Real "Winner" of American Idol 2?
After letting the dust settle in the controversial decision that was the announcement of Ruben Studdard as the American Idol 2 competition winner, it seems to be increasingly prevalent that runner up Clay Aiken is the true winner of the anomaly that was the American Idol finale.
The decision by the legendary music magazine Rolling Stone to feature Aiken as its June 20th edition cover boy, and dedicate a full length feature/photo shoot in that magazine is further proof that, although Studdard may have been thought to be number one, he must really feel like ...number two.
That, combined with numerous television appearances, either solo or as the thinner half of the future comedy team of Aiken & Studdard, a top selling debut cd double A single (having outsold Stoddard's dramatically), and as the number one requested/most played artist on many top 10 national radio shows, Aiken continues his rise amongst the legendary success stories in the world of music.
Not that 19 management would mind, since they're in the business to make money, and having dual Idols still making cash for them is a cherry on the top of the pop music treat they're promoting in Studdard/Aiken...almost like hedging their bets, but both pay off for them.
Sadly, personality plays a big part in the TV coverage of the two. Studdard may be painfully shy, or just not too loquacious enough to hold lengthy interviews, as he always seems to have Aiken attached to his hip, like some bizarre circus conjoined twin. Where as Aiken, if given the opportunity, will be a non stop, quote producing chatterbox, quite charming and still inspiring swooning amongst the audience members and show hosts alike (that **Thud** you hear is Diane Saywer hitting the floor, once again!**).
It was announced recently that both Studdard and Aiken (again) will debut their much awaited full length cd's on August 19th, really fast compared to the drawn out months of waiting that American Idol 1 winner Kelly Clarkson's fans had to wait impatiently for her debut cd "Miss Independent" to be released. Plus, 19 management and others involved don't want a repeat of the apparent disaster that is the way overdue debut of AI1's runner-up Justin Guarini's debut cd...one that seems to be tanking so far, he becoming an afterthought to the current dynamic duo's success. So, wisely, management will strike while the iron's hot.
There is speculation that there may be a World Idol competition, with top finalists from around the world vying for more exposure worldwide. Such other countries' luminaries as Gareth Gates and Wil Young from England, Germany's bizarre export Daniel K., and some American Idol finalists may be a part of the plan of producers in the future. That would be unfortunate, but may be laugh worthy, so bring it on!
The fact that Clay Aiken's present/future is still a white hot topic on the internet, on radio request lines (much to the chagrin of radio station receptionists!), and in the media (Aiken sells magazines, y'all!)..plus at the cash register in the form of cd sales continues to show that the true future star may have been number two on the show, but number one in the future that is the fickle music/entertainment industry.
Oct 29 04 10:33 PM
'Ticket boost' for Idol tour
The success of TV show American Idol has spread to music venues across the US, it has been reported.
Finalists from the second series will take part in a two-month tour and tickets are selling faster than last year's shows featuring stars of the first season, according to Billboard.com
Promoters said 23 of the 41 dates of the tour, which begins on 8 July, were already sold out, according to Billboard.
In 2002, just 10 of the total 30 dates sold out after interest waned when the TV show finished, Debra Rathwell of promoter AEG Live told the site.
"[This year], there was an extra week of Idol mania, and it helped build sales," she said.
The final of American Idol 2 was watched by 38 million people, with 24 million public votes cast, in May.
Artists from the show currently hold the top two places in the US singles chart. Runner-up Clay Aiken is in the top spot with his version of Bridge Over Troubled Water.
He pushed winner Ruben Studdard into second place.
After releasing their singles on the same day, Studdard and Aiken will both release their debut albums on 19 August, Billboard reported.
A third series of American Idol is being planned for 2004 - but not all American Idol-related material turns to gold.
A film featuring the top two finalists from the first series, Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini, entered the box office chart at number 11, taking just $2.9m (ï¿½1.75m) at the weekend.
Oct 29 04 10:35 PM
With the release of the new novel, Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter (#1) ascends to the top spot for the first time in Lycos 50 history this week. But that's not really a shock. No, the shock is the guy right behind him: the unstoppable force of the fad we call Clay Aiken (#2).
I know what you are thinking. Is this really Harry Potter's first time at #1? And, egads, is Clay really that popular? Yes, and yes.
Harry has never made #1 before because the films always come out at Christmastime, and the only mythical creature more magical than Harry Potter is St. Nick himself. With holidays out of the way, and The Hulk (#6) coming in a bit lower than we expected, Harry was able to take the top spot. One of the factors driving searches: people looking for spoilers on the book's plot, based on rumors that a major character dies at the end. You can find out for yourself by purchasing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix through Lycos Shop.
Harry comes out about 10 percent higher than Clay at the end, but it has been interesting watching them jostle for the top spot all week long. Let's look at how the ratio between these two terms changed over the week, listing searches from Sunday June 15 through each given day. You see that Clay took a big jump when his single hit stores, and then Harry made up the difference at the end when his book came out.
Sun: Clay 56%, Harry 44%
Mon: Clay 55%, Harry 45%
Tues: Clay 54%, Harry 46%
Wed: Clay 59%, Harry 41%
Thurs: Clay 52%, Harry 48%
Fri: Clay 50%, Harry 50%
Sat: Clay 49%, Harry 51%
How big is Clay compared to past American Idol personalities? He is getting about eight times the searches that Kelly Clarkson was receiving when her first single came out back in 2002, and 16 times as many searches as Ruben Studdard is getting now.
Oct 29 04 10:40 PM
Clay Aiken -- On the Cover of the Rolling Stone
by Donna Reynolds -- 06/24/2003
"On the cover of the Rolling Stone" We all remember the song -- but now Clay Aiken gets to live it. Why did he make it and what does he have to say?
In 1972, Shel Silverstein penned a tune for the band Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show called "The Cover of the Rolling Stone." The song bemoans the fact that, although the band had been successful, they had never appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine. The chorus kept running through my mind Friday night as I stood in the local Borders, looking at Clay Aiken's face on that very same cover.
Wanna see our pictures on the cover
Wanna buy five copies for our mothers
Wanna see my smilin' face
On the cover of the Rolling Stone
(Copyright 1972 - Shel Silverstein)
Rolling Stone has been around since 1967, long before many of Clay's fans were born. It has evolved over the years but one thing has been consistent -- that cover. From issue #1 in November 1967, featuring John Lennon in war garb, appearing on the cover of this magazine lends certain credence to an artist. There is even a book " Rolling Stone: The Complete Covers " that documents the celebrity photographs that have appeared over the years. From Lennon to Dylan to Madonna, the impact remains fairly significant.
All that being said, I was surprised when I heard they were featuring Clay Aiken. Certainly his inclusion in this venerable magazine lends an air of acceptance not just to Clay but also to the entire American Idol concept. While the article offers few surprises (Clay hates cats, is afraid of water, and is severely allergic to chocolate, coffee, and mint), just his being interviewed for the magazine is significant enough. Interviewed by phone in London where he is recording his album, Clay told WRAL radio that he really didn't understand the significance of all of this until Ruben explained it to him!
Certainly, Clay's fans will snap these up quickly and revel in his success. Interestingly, at least 30 copies were available for sale on eBay late Friday night and were selling at up to $11.00 per copy. I suppose there must be people somewhere who don't have access to a decent newsstand but still, it amazes me that people will spend that kind of money on a magazine with a cover price of $3.95 that is still readily available.
Why Clay and not Ruben? I am sure Ruben's fans will take issue with this and I can understand their angst. However, Clay's story really is a modern-day Cinderfella tale. We all know the story by now but not everyone in America watched this show. The fact remains that Ruben has said that he was in year three of a five-year plan to make it as a singer while Clay was entering his last year of college with the intention of becoming a teacher. He really wanted to be on The Amazing Race and only auditioned for American Idol after friends wouldn't stop bugging him to enter the competition. He never really believed that he would get too far in the show and still seems puzzled as to why people are so captivated by him. Erik Hedegaard, who did the Rolling Stone interview, seemed impressed by Clay's down to earth attitude and treated him quite fairly. I sensed that Hedegaard really liked Clay.
I didn't go to Borders to buy this magazine; in fact, I had forgotten all about it until I saw a gaggle of young girls gathered around one of the magazine racks. It was then I remembered and yes, I bought I copy, telling myself (and the guy at the cash register) that I wanted to read it because I was writing an article for a reality show website! I have a collection of magazines related to this year's American Idol and, if nothing else, I figure they will be collectibles one day. But I, much like other Idol fans, still can't seem to resist the lure of Idol-related material either in print or on TV. And sales of the Idol's various CDs are breaking all kinds of established records, indicating that the show was successful at least in creating superstars out of ordinary people. Even Jay Leno had a joke Friday about Justin and Kelly's movie and commented on the possibility of a movie called When Clay met Ruben. [Editor's Note: a joke that has been used many times, including by this editor on several radio interviews. We, of course, thought of it first.] American Idol goes mainstream! Who'd a thunk it?
Oct 29 04 10:48 PM
Recording Masterclass for Ruben's and Clay's CDs
by Rosanne Simunovic -- 06/24/2003
Rosanne provided us with Masterclass reviews as American Idol went along. Now it's time to turn her attention to the CDs by Ruben and Clay. Did the qualities of their voices translate well?
Over the past couple of weeks, I have received numerous e-mails regarding a Masterclass article in reference to the enormously successful CD singles by Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Well, it took a while for these CDs to reach Canadian soil, but I finally received them from Amazon.com.
However, before I continue with my review, I would like say that there is a huge difference in production quality between these two recordings -- at the expense of Clay Aiken. Clay's recording sounds as if it was produced in a harried, thoughtless fashion. I only hope that more thought and care is utilized for his full-length album, because this extraordinary performer deserves better than this.
So, that being said, I am happy to share my thoughts about Clay's and Ruben's recordings and will highlight the strengths as well as critique the vocal, instrumental, and recording production issues that I feel need some attention in the future.
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Strengths: Clay performs this song beautifully, exhibiting the beautiful seamless quality of his vocal range. Great choral sound here, performed by a really stellar choir. This is an excellent and refreshing new arrangement of this Paul Simon classic. Clay is singing with beautiful focus and has stayed pretty consistently true to his "bel canto" technique for sustaining on the pure vowel.
Critique: The first major criticism I have at the outset is the very obvious presence of this choir. The choir, as I said previously, is excellent, but it totally overpowers Clay's vocal presence on this CD. I love the choral intro -- but, after this intro, then I feel that the choral background should have remained silent for the first verse so that we could really enjoy the vocal excellence of Clay. Less is more, I feel, and the choir, in my opinion, is not only too exposed, but also extremely loud. The result: Clay sounds like he is a soloist from this (nameless) choir and this is very unfair. I am a great believer in the power of background vocals; however the end result should not overshadow the singer. There is a reason that we use the word "background" when describing these additional singers.
In addition, I suspect that Clay recorded his solo to a pre-recorded track of background vocals and instrumental accompaniment and I feel that we have lost the magic and excitement of the live performance. When Clay sang this song live on American Idol, it really smoked; the energy, enthusiasm and adrenaline rush that you feel in a live performance cannot be duplicated in a studio. I understand that this is the norm in recording circles, but, honestly, I feel that the result is a more stagnant and a musically uninteresting performance. Also, although Clay sang with a nice free pop style in this number, I think that the ubiquitous presence of the choir really inhibited his own personal delivery of this song. At times, it was almost like a competition and this encouraged Clay to sing with a forced, pinched vocal quality. I breathed a sigh of relief when the song moved to the beginning of another verse so we could enjoy the beauty and quieter nuances in Clay's voice.
To summarize: Clay sang beautifully, as did the choir; however, the production of this song needs to be evaluated so that there is an element of dynamic surprise within the performance structure of this song. The song was too predictable -- Clay sings a few lines of verse, then the choir overtakes the rest of the verse at a feverish pitch and the intensity increases etc., and then the sequence is repeated again and again.
This Is The Night
Strengths: What a beautiful composition. This is not an easy song to perform, as the singer has to have a technically secure and flexible vocal range. Clay has all of these important attributes in his singing voice and he performs this song with confidence and sensitivity to the lyrical content of the music. Generally, his entire range sounds remarkable -- clear, with that ringing head tone in both the upper and register that is so very important. This song really reminds me of Celine Dion -- it appears to be very close to the type of song that she usually records with great success. Perhaps this is why Clay has emerged as a star. Apart from Josh Groban, who is inherently more a classical than a pop singer, Clay is the only real male pop singer that sings pop music with a classical element intact -- much like Celine Dion. I was really impressed with the superb agility in Clay's voice and the way he could bend the sustained vocal line and add more riffs and runs with pitch perfect control.
Critique: Clay, be very careful that you are always singing on the pure vowel. That "bel canto" singing style is improving, but, at times, those diphthongs take over and the result is a less focused, less vocally pure sound. We lose the beauty and richness of your voice.
Production for this song was very good and the arrangement, including background vocals and instrumental, was excellent. It really allowed Clay to shine and this is what was missing in the first number. Generally, however, the background vocals were not as vocally proficient in this song as in "Bridge Over Troubled Water;" however, at least they stayed in the background and allowed Clay's voice to remain prominent throughout the number.
Also, the song could have benefited from a touch more of reverb quality to enhance the depth and ethereal mood of this song. Not too much, however, as you don't want that "echo chamber" effect to take over.
I would love to hear Clay continue in this classical/pop genre of music as he really excels at it and not everyone is as capable as this young man to succeed in this genre. I really look forward to hearing Clay's full-length album as I think it is going to be a unique, record-breaking CD of historical consequence.
Flying Without Wings
Strengths: This is a great song -- both lyrically and musically -- and so appropriate in capturing the essence and sensitivity of Ruben Studdard. His excellent classical technique is very evident as he is sustaining his vocal line in superb fashion. His rich and robust vocal quality is thankfully apparent and beautifully highlighted in this recording. Ruben sings with such a natural, relaxed pop style -- almost effortless, actually -- and his pitch throughout his riffs was outstanding. He really supported his sound diaphragmatically while adhering to the "bel canto" technique -- and this is what has made the difference here. The choral background is exceptional and adds just the right touch to the overall arrangement of this song -- which is exceptional. The quality of the production is impeccable -- starts softly and then builds and crescendos at just the right time. The beautiful vocal jazz ending here adds the finishing touch to an exceptionally recorded performance.
Critique: Nothing to critique, because the more I listened to this song, the more I was moved by the performance. Usually, the flaws, if evident, become more apparent with each listen, but this song had the reverse effect on me. Actually, it brought back Simon Cowell's verbal crusade and insistence about the long-term potential of Ruben's voice in the recording industry. Looks like this Brit "knows his stuff."
Strengths: Beautiful beginning to this song -- just Ruben's soulful voice -- and it really works. When I first heard this song, it didn't impress me; however, on subsequent plays, I realized that this is actually a beautiful arrangement. This song combines a mixture of rhythm and blues and jazz elements and the result is almost ethereal. Ruben does an exceptional job of sustaining the long vocal lines in this song. The instrumental interludes, as well, are brilliant. Ruben does some remarkable ad-lib vocal riffs with his voice and he does this with flair, confidence, and pitch perfect security. If this is any indication of what he is able to accomplish through the recording process, Ruben's full-length album is going to be a winner. I think there is more happening intellectually and musically inside Ruben than anyone realizes -- except Ruben and his team.
Critique: Although this song has been produced and performed with meticulous attention and detail, I don't think it really translates well to a general audience. As a musician, I really appreciate the excellence of this recorded performance; however, as I said above, it slowly grew on me, so, unless you are a real R&B fan, this particular arrangement will have limited appeal, I feel. Also, I guess there is no getting around all those "baby, baby" lines -- as the lyrics really revolve around this word. It just seems outdated, is all.
I wish both these performers the greatest success as they have proved beyond a doubt that excellence -- whether it is in a competition or on a recording -- wins in the end. It appears that their full-length albums are to be released on August 19th, so stay tuned for more Masterclass articles on FoxesOnIdol.com.
Oct 29 04 10:53 PM
Monica Storms to Number One
R&B singer takes top spot from Vandross
In taking five years to record and release her latest album, Monica seems to have made some ravenous fans. The R&B singer's After the Storm sold 186,000 copies, according to SoundScan, to debut Number One. The figure is more than double that of her previous release, The Boy Is Mine, which dropped in at Number Eight in 1998.
Storm just edged Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father, which sold 182,000 copies at Number Two, easily putting its to-date sales past a half-million. Actually, the top of the charts has become something of a J Records logjam, as the label issued Storm and Dance, as well as this week's Number Five album, Annie Lennox's Bare, which sold 93,000 copies. In between is Metallica's St. Anger, which sold 138,000 copies at Number Three, pushing it past 900,000 sales in less than three full weeks.
Last week's chart indicated that the summer was heating up record sales, with ten new albums in the Top Fifty and 5.3 million album sales in the Top 200. But this week's chart tells a different story: The Top 200 only registered 3.9 million sales, and other than Monica's Storm the only newcomers of note were goth metalmen Type O Negative's Life Is Killing Me (Number Thirty-nine, 27,000 copies sold) and the various artists collection Reggae Gold 2003 (Number Forty-three, 25,000).
This week's fiercest battle is on the singles chart, where Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard remain engaged in an American Idol sell-off. The former sold another 144,000 copies of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" (which sold 393,000 last week) while the latter sold 112,000 of "Flying Without Wings" (286,000 last week). As a bit of perspective, the Number Three single, the American Idol collaboration "God Bless the U.S.A.," moved a mere 8,000 copies.
As for next week's album chart, Destiny's Child frontwoman Beyonce Knowles' solo debut, Dangerously in Love, looks like a lock for the top slot, but Michelle Branch's Hotel Paper should put up strong numbers based on the steady success of her debut. A bit lower down, it will be interesting to see if Liz Phair decision to sell her soul to the Matrix on her self-titled fourth album will translate into a sales success.
This week's Top Ten: Monica's After the Storm; Luther Vandross' Dance With My Father; Metallica's St. Anger; Radiohead's Hail to the Thief; Annie Lennox's Bare; 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin'; Norah Jones' Come Away With Me; Evanescence's Fallen; the 2 Fast 2 Furious soundtrack; and Kelly Clarkson's Thankful.
Oct 29 04 10:58 PM
BMG ARTISTS HITTING EVEN HIGHER NOTES
Monica's After the Storm Debuts at No.1, Luther Vandross Still Strong at No.2, Pop Icon Annie Lennox at No.5 (and No.1 Internet Album)
BMG heats up with 4 albums in Top 10, and about 30% share of Top 200 sales this week
BMG's RCA Music Group has No.1 album AND No.1 single for second week in a row
New York, NY -- June 25, 2003-- For the second week in a row, BMG has the No. 1 album in the U.S., with Monica's After the Storm, and the No. 1 single, with Clay Aiken's "This is the Night/Bridge Over Troubled Water." It also has three records in the Top Five, with Luther Vandross' Dance with My Father, (last week's No. 1), coming in this week at No. 2, and Annie Lennox's Bare, at No. 5. Also in the Top Ten this week is Kelly Clarkson's Thankful , moving up to No. 10.
"I congratulate Monica, Luther, Annie, and Clay, among the others, for their great performances, as well as the dedicated teams at our labels for this ground-breaking sales and chart success," said Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BMG. "I personally want to thank RCA Music Group and their leadership, Clive Davis and Charles Goldstuck, for delivering great music and great results. There is much more to come from RCA Music Group and BMG this year, but this is a great way to kick off the summer."
BMG's RCA Music Group was the No. 1 label in the U.S. for the week, powered by four top 10 albums and the top 3 singles from J Records and RCA Records, including Monica's After the Storm , Luther Vandross's Dance With My Father., Annie Lennox's Bare, and Kelly Clarkson's Thankful. BMG's labels had eight of the Top 30 albums in the U.S. and the largest market share of the music majors for sales of albums in the Top 200 for the week ended June 22nd.
RCA Music Group continues to dominate the Singles chart. RCA's Clay Aiken's "This is the Night/ Bridge Over Troubled Water" holds its spot at No. 1 (second week in a row) and is the No. 1-selling single for the year to date. Ruben Studdard stays at No.2 with "Flying Without Wings/ Superstar" (J). Ruben also claims the No.1 R&B single for the second week in a row.
About BMG:BMG is the global music division of Bertelsmann AG, one of the world's leading media companies. BMG owns more than 200 record labels in 41 countries including Ariola, Arista Records, J Records, Jive Records, RCA Records and RCA Label Group -- Nashville. In addition, BMG's music publishing operations are the third largest in the world.
Oct 29 04 10:59 PM
This Week's Hits: Clay Aiken, Superstar
by James Maguire
Top 40/Hot 100 Singles/Top 200 Albums:
It's official: Clay Aiken rules pop music. In fact, Clay Aiken is an over-the-top, smash-one-out-of-the-park, big-as-Elvis superstar sensation. The planet, it seems, can not get enough of the genial, mop-topped American Idol runner up.
This week he made music history. His debut single hit #1 and American Idol winner Ruben Studdard's debut single hit #2 -- the first time in Billboard history that both the #1 and #2 songs are new entries.
For Clay's new tune, "This Is The Night", to hit #1 its first week out is practically unheard of. Even songs by established artists debut far lower, often taking several weeks to climb to #1. But Clay's debut is breaking sales records as it flies off the shelf, selling 393,000 copies its first week.
Most #1 singles sell no more than 20,000 their first week, as record company promote album sales over singles.
Ruben Studdard's tune, "Flying Without Wings", finished a close second, selling nearly 286,000 copies in its first week. On the Idol TV show, of course, Ruben came in first -- in a VERY close vote -- but at this point it appears that Clay's star will sail higher. Yet Ruben, with his lovable teddy bear persona and enormous voice, will have a following.
Call me a heretic, but I actually think Ruben is a better singer than Clay. Yes, Clay has the magic charisma on a personal level. But if I had to pick just one CD, it would be Ruben's.
The question is: will Clay and Ruben be able to extend their 15 minutes of fame after the initial American Idol glow wears off? The answer is probably yes, considering that Kelly Clarkson's follow-up album -- released long after her initial victory -- did well, momentarily hitting #1 in album sales. (It's currently #13 in album sales.)
Oh, and there are also other artists on the charts this week, not that anyone's going to pay attention to them.
The #1 album this week is Luther Vandross's Dance With My Father. The silken-voice R&B stylist's album debuted at #1 (but remember, since albums are move heavily promoted, debuting in the top spot is more likely.)
Vandross pushes Metallica's St. Anger to #2, and at #3 is Radiohead's Hail To The Chief.
For the Radiohead CD to open at #3 is a wildly strong showing for a band who only a few years ago was seen an outside "art" rock band. Radiohead is proof that rock is still alive and kickin' -- the group is one of the most creative guitar-driven outfits out there.
Also enjoying strong debuts this week is Annie Lennox, whose Bare hit #4 in its first week, George Strait, whose Honkeytonkville debuted at #5, and Steely Dan, whose Everything Must Go hit #9 in its first week.
On the Hot 100 chart, at #3 (after Clay and Ruben at #1 and #2, of course) is "21 Questions" by 50 Cent and Nate Dogg.
Following closely is Sean Paul's "Get Busy" at #4, and at #5 is another 50 Cent vehicle, this time with Lil' Kim, "Magic Stick".
The greatest Hot 100 airplay gainer this week is "Crazy In Love" by Beyonce and Jay-Z, a duo we can expect more hits from.
On the Top 40 chart, the big news this week is that it's owned by Evanescence, whose Fallen, has grabbed the top spot, proving that clean sounding metal still has a humungous following. The band is talented.
Matchbox's Twenty's "Unwell" hangs at #2, now on the charts for 17 weeks, followed by Sean Paul's "Get Busy" at #3. Yes, Sean Paul is hot.
Mainstream Rock Singles:
Audioslave's "Like a Stone" is having a tremendous run at #1 -- the group's laid-back, super-cool rock groove is catching a lot of ears.
Chevelle's "Send The Pain Below" has leapt from #7 to #2, and Headstrong's "Trapt" jumped from #6 to #3.
The upshot of all this is movement that Metallica's "St. Anger" has been pushed back to #4. With the band's debut at the #1 album last week, it looked they would grab the rock single spot, but apparently that's not what the rock gods wanted.
Oct 29 04 11:02 PM
Simon Says: Let's Rip on Clay
by David Bloomberg -
Simon Cowell was recently on Howard Stern's show, where he gave his thoughts (excuses) on why Clay has outsold Ruben so far. But he doesn't stop there -- he also delves into Clay's personal life.
Simon Cowell was on Howard Stern's show recently, and while I didn't hear it myself, a number of readers have e-mailed in about it, including one who provided a transcript. As you might imagine, due to the fact that, well, it's Howard Stern and Simon Cowell, the discussion took a bit of a nasty turn. However, I have to say that I was surprised to see just how nasty it got.
First, we have Howard asking Simon why Clay's CD-single has done better than Ruben's so far. Simon claims that it's because Clay has "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on it, and that if Ruben had that song, he would be at number one. To that, I have to say: Bullsh*t. I know Simon wants to continue to defend Ruben as his choice for the winner, but he is ignoring some facts. One of those that very clearly contradicts Simon is that Clay's CD shot to #1 on Amazon.com while Ruben's hovered much lower before the decision had been made to put "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on the CD. It might be argued that Amazon.com rankings are not everything, but we've seen that it was a pretty good indicator of the overall comparative selling rates of the two CDs.
In addition, let's look at the reason the song replaced "On the Wings of Love" on his CD. It wasn't just a whim of the producers -- it was because Clay knocked the song out of the park on the show. Even Simon himself admitted at the time that his performance of that song might have won the competition for him. Now Simon wants to say it's the song and not the performance? Wrong.
There may be many reasons that Clay's CD outsold Ruben's, from the basic one that there are more Clay fans to the more questionable ones that suggest Clay's fans just bought multiple copies so they could propel him to #1. Simon's ego certainly would not allow him to state the first, but I'm kind of surprised he didn't go with the second rather than something that is so blatantly false. It's like because he liked Ruben more than Clay, he cannot conceive that others might have a different viewpoint.
From there, Howard Stern moved into an area that is not surprising, given who he is -- asking Simon about Clay's sexuality. Simon said he hadn't asked Clay about it, he just had to look at him. And from looking at him, he can tell that Clay is gay.
Howard asked about Clay denying it in Rolling Stone magazine. Simon sarcastically replied that in that case, he believes him. Yeah. Right. That clears it all up, he added.
This brings up multiple issues. First, Simon seems to be under the misconception that all gay men "look" a certain way. Second, who cares? If Clay told an interviewer that he's straight, why should anybody care? Why should anybody have even asked the question to begin with? Back when I interviewed Jim Verarros from the first season, Jim (who is openly gay) said he never felt like anybody dealing with the show had any problems with that, including Simon. Now, however, I have to wonder. I guess when you go on Howard Stern you're expected to discuss such things, and maybe it's just a continuation of the first point discussed above -- Simon still wants to push Ruben as the best and doesn't like the fact that Clay is so far winning the sales battle.
However, many people have wondered why Simon would say bad things about either man, since he is the one who signed them. According to my correspondent, Simon made a comment indicating that he sold the rights to both of them for millions and therefore has no reason to worry about saying something that will impact sales.
Still, if Simon is coming back for American Idol 3, you'd think he'd want to restrain himself a little bit. Yes, he's always been known as the "nasty" one, but mostly he's just been blunt and honest and, frankly, I've frequently defended him for doing so (though not always, such as when he called people "losers." Now he's making himself look like a complete ass. He didn't have to go on Howard Stern's show, and he didn't have to lower himself to Howard Stern's level.
Is Clay gay? I have no idea. I've heard reports that he is; Iï¿½ve heard reports that he isn't; I don't really care, and probably neither do most of his fans. What I do care about is that since buying both his CD and Ruben's, I have found myself wanting to listen to Clay's a lot more frequently than Ruben's. Sure, part of it is that I've heard "Superstar" enough times that I've memorized each and every "baby," but most of it is simply that I like Clay's singing better. Since I've heard "On the Wings of Love" -- the song that was originally supposed to be on Clay's CD-single -- and know that it, like "Superstar," would have been essentially the same on the single as it was on the full AI2 album, I also know that I stillwould have preferred Clay's single, and I suspect many others feel the same way.
Simon had a one-word description that he liked to use when he thought somebody had done extremely poorly. I think that description fits the excuses he made here: Pathetic.
Oct 29 04 11:07 PM
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Sandwiched between Clay and Harry
Last week, my mother announced that she had four sons.
That sent me scrambling to the calculator because -- and let's work this out together -- I know I have two brothers. Plus me. That makes ... hmmm. Nope, doesn't work out.
While I braced myself for some horrifying family revelation, Mom clarified. She was referring to Clay Aiken, the skinny kid from North Carolina who, in recent weeks, has taken a rocket trip straight up from obscurity to the cover of the Rolling Stone, thanks to his electrifying, albeit second-place, performance on Fox's "American Idol."
Clay's elevation to the status of son was due only partly to his singing. You see, Clay is from the north side of Raleigh, the very same piece of America Mom calls home. The kid's from the neighborhood. He's never said the f-word in his life. He used to work at the YMCA. His hero is his mother (his actual, genetic mother), and he's just been validated on national television on a show whose title makes him a candidate for Mount Rushmore.
As a result, my mother is acting like an 11-year-old girl upon seeing her first Beatle. And I'm playing the role of the crotchety old man, tossing out a disgusted "Bah" here and a dyspeptic "Humbug" there.
But Clay had nothing to do with the fact that the next day I was standing outside in the streets past midnight in a line longer than Al Sharpton's shot at the White House.
While my mom was mooning over Clay, my daughter was waiting in the cold for Harry. That would be the fictional Mr. Potter, the charismatic cult leader under whose spell my child has fallen.
I'm not the sleeping-on-the-sidewalk type -- not a Springsteen sit-down show, not an audience with the Pope, not a chance to go bathing-suit shopping with Cameron Diaz would ever convince me to stand out in the cold staring at my shoes and listening to the guy behind me gossip about his shift supervisor for an hour. Yet here I was, nodding off in a vertical position watching snails zoom past.
The Potter watch gave me time to ponder: Caught between Clay and Harry, why did I feel so put-upon? Have I turned into a snob? Have I ever been anything but?
Most people of my generation have been swimming in media stimulation since infancy. As a result, our sense of self has been wrapped up in our cultural tastes. Who are you? Well, a lot of us are likely to answer in cultural terms: I was a Paul girl. I collect "Wizard of Oz" stuff. I live and die with the St. Louis Cardinals.
This is especially pronounced to teenagers, record-store clerks and professional critics, almost all of whom look at mass popularity like a cow looks at a steak house, the worst fate one could imagine.
As I get older, I find it increasingly tough to judge things apart from their popularity. If something is obscure and great, you feel a need to champion it. If everyone knows it's good, what's the point in piling on?
On the other end, bad art that's obscure has found its rightful place. Let it die in peace. But bad stuff that's wildly popular? How do you fight it without looking like a twit?
These days, that question is especially troubling. The media are increasingly treating the American people as a mass and, on one level, buying into "American Idol" and "Harry Potter" is surrendering to the herd. When I'm listening to Clay or watching "The Hulk" or reading "Harry Potter," I'm always asking myself: Am I enjoying this stuff or am I being manipulated?
My mom and my daughter don't care about any of that stuff. They still have in plentiful supply what's been leaking out of me for years: genuine, unashamed enthusiasm for the objects of their excitement.
I hate to break my mother's heart, but TV personalities oversinging songs I've already heard a million times will never be my cup of tea, though it's fun to see her swept up in the mania.
I still distrust huge media phenomena like "American Idol" because I feel their ultimate aim to have all Americans idolize the same thing the same way.
But Clay and Harry have given me a wake-up call, that it's OK to throw yourself into something whether you share that passion with 100 people or 100 million.
I'm in the market for my own kind of American Idol, preferably an older woman. That way, I can turn the tables on Mom by announcing that I now have two mothers.
© 2017 Yuku. All rights reserved.