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 American Idol , Chat , Ridiculousness
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Shouldn't you call them Claymores, since...you know, you stepped in a minefield...

Posted by: Sock Puppet | July 8, 2008 10:48 AM

I don't know that the last one is Clay Aiken-specific.

Posted by: Ronnie | July 8, 2008 12:35 PM

I know who Clay Aiken is, but who is J.Freedom DuLac? Should I care? Nope. *shrugs*

Posted by: Lor | July 10, 2008 7:31 PM

"Could it be that radio programmers are, in effect, also saying that the material is boring?"

Could it be that radio programmers haven't received any label $upport for this material, and therefore have no incentive to play it? Or are you going to pretend that you don't know how radio works?

Posted by: Kelly | July 10, 2008 7:36 PM

Kelly...you didn't listen to Clay. He told you that pay for play is NOT the problem.

Posted by: KellyisabadClaymate | July 10, 2008 7:40 PM

I've had enough DJs & PDs tell me off the record that RCA does NOT put any effort into radio promotion for Clay to know what the real deal is. There are plenty of songs on Clay's CDs that could easily make him a major format artist at AC & some would blend well with HotAC playlists as well. For some reason, his label refuses to play the radio game for him, & yes that means underthetable payola of many kinds. As for his new album, ASHES & FALLING could have easily been on Clarkson's "Breakaway". AS LONG AS WE'RE HERE & GRACE OF GOD sound like Underwood blockbusters. WHERE I DRAW THE LINE would be all over the radio if it had Daughtry's name on it. And WEIGHT OF THE WORLD is rather Coldplay/U2/REM-ish. There are plenty of hits on Clay's new album. But no one is hearing them because of RCA's cut-rate promotion... i.e., NO VIDEO??? Are you kidding me?! That's Pop Music Promotion 101.

Posted by: sam | July 10, 2008 8:45 PM

I see no point in trying to convince so called critics that they are wrong. This one is particularly interested in dissing Clay and his fans. Pffft!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 10, 2008 8:55 PM

Ha ha. I actually enjoyed J. Freedom's comments even though I own Clay' new CD and really like it. He was giving his honest opinion so that's OK cause not everyone will like the same music. Clay certainly does have a wonderful voice.

I like unique, most others (maybe J. Freedom) seem to want more "sameness" in their music. I have champaigne taste in music and J.Freedom appears to have more of a beer taste. Nothing wrong with that. There is room for all kinds of music.

It always takes the world a while to appreciate true art/talent and Clay is amazingly more talented than most.
Great new CD.

Posted by: George | July 10, 2008 11:31 PM

Wow, a lot of 47-year-old single women really need to find a new hobby.

Posted by: Adam | July 11, 2008 11:40 AM

You so called fans don't realize that you do more harm to Clay by always defending him the way you do. Give it a rest already.

Posted by: rene | July 11, 2008 12:13 PM

The Claymates just can't help themselves, even the smallest and mildest critique of Clay draws the nutjobs to blogs everywhere to defend Clay. It's like he has 20-30 mommies on patrol 24/7. It's not like he really can afford to be futher emasculated but knock yourselves out.

And the album is boring. Most people who don't identify as Claymates feel that way... and now I predict a flux of people posting here who will claim to not be Claymates but will praise the album to high heaven. LOL

Posted by: Claytard mocker | July 11, 2008 9:25 PM

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