When Clay-mates Attack
Long after I closed the door on last week's chat, some of Clay Aiken's fans busted into the chat room to raise hell (as only Clay Aiken fans can, natch) over this brief exchange:
Northern Virginia, Virginia: Don't people want to listen to recording artists who can actually sing? Apparently not. Otherwise, more consumers would have purchased Clay Aiken's latest album, On My Way Here, which really showcases his voice with songs that are beautifully arranged and full of melody, qualities that seem to have disappeared on today's music scene. Groban and Buble, neither of which can match Aiken's strength vocally, have become fixtures on Adult Contemporary radio. Why not Aiken? You don't have to approve of his personal life -- whatever it is. The Voice should be enough to get him the respect he deserves and has earned.
Answer: Maybe they just find the material boring. Having a fine voice is one thing; actually doing something interesting with it is another.
Since the chat was over and done with when the Claymates stopped by, there was no chance to reply to their posts. Usually, that'd be that. But I'm feeling benevolent today, so here they are, with brief responses.
Roanoke, VA: You said in reference to Clay Aiken's voice:
"Maybe they just find the material boring. Having a fine voice is one thing; actually doing something interesting with it is another."
This brings several points to mind:
1. I think most people haven't "found" the material at all, so there is no basis to say it's boring other than some critics telling them so. With no radio play and very little promotion, most people haven't heard him sing anything in years.
2. Anyone who knows anything about music and vocal techniques would know Clay does MANY interesting things with his voice. Many of the songs on his new CD, On My Way Here, have very different sounds and vocal qualities woven throughout his extensive range.
3. What would you have him sing? Every time I see criticism of the styles of music Clay chooses to sing, I want to ask this question. He has included everything from slow and jazzy to up tempo pop/rock to barebones heartbreak to sweeping well orchestrated ballads to gospel (iTunes bonus) on this CD. Where does he go from there?
1. Could it be that radio programmers are, in effect, also saying that the material is boring? Which is really saying something given some of the pablum that gets played on AC stations.
2. Well, that's your opinion. Mine is that while he has a fine voice, I don't find his albums to be particularly interesting. Including the new one. I'm not offended by it; I'm just not interested in it.
3. I'm not his A&R rep. But if he ever sings something that speaks to me, I'll know it when I hear it.
Anonymous: Clay Aiken's new album On My Way Here...boring? I can only conclude that you either never listened to this album...or your music critic credentials are sorely lacking.
Answer: There's a third option, you know - which is that the album is actually boring.
California: Hi, I think you're stupid. Just sharing what the rest of us are thinking.
Answer: Thanks for sharing.
Surrey: "J. Freedom du Lac: Maybe they just find the material boring. Having a fine voice is one thing; actually doing something interesting with it is another."
Aha! I see that you haven't bothered to actually hear his new album. If you had you wouldn't have made such an uninformed statement.
Answer: It's actually a fully-informed statement based on having heard the album.
calabasas, california: Does the Washington Post actually pay you to pontificate your adolescent so-called music critiques?
Answer: Yes, and I can't believe it, either. But wow - "so-called music critiques." You really stung me there. You're good at this. Now excuse me while I call my therapist.
By J. Freedom du Lac |
July 8, 2008; 8:31 AM ET
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