Any Claymates out there?

I don’t understand why Clay Aiken is perhaps the most popular of all the American Idol runners up. I also don’t understand why, to join his fan club, I have to shell out $25 and look at a picture of him in which he seems to have been drugged and flung against a wall. Someone out there gets it, though: the attraction to this waifish crooner.

Explain it to me, please.

As I work on gathering the details of Aiken’s summer tour (he’s traveling the US playing amphitheaters, backed by regional symphonies, spouting medleys of TV theme songs … I kid you not) I could use the input of a die-hard fan or two. So, are you in possession of an Exclusive Clay Aiken Official Fan Club Bracelet? Are you already planning your outfit for Aiken’s upcoming appearance at the Biltmore Estate? Do you think he was wrongfully denied the Idol crown? I’d love to hear from you.

—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter

PS: Jason Bugg, you are not a Claymate. Don’t even try it.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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64 thoughts on “Any Claymates out there?

  1. Chris

    You don’t seem to be effete, though, so keep your untalented, hacky chin up (plus, that makes it easier to laugh at your own jokes)

  2. Ken Hanke

    Now, where did I say Mr. Bugg was a no talent hack? Nowhere. He voiced his desire to become one and I suggested it was perhaps an attainable goal. That, in fact, suggests he is not a no talent hack.

  3. judy davidson

    All you have to do is to read his reviews from his Columbas, Ohio concert.A crowd of 12,000 plus were there to see him perform. This man can really sing. I think you would change your mind after attending one of his concerts.

  4. carol

    Hey guys, boring already. People are finally starting the “get” Clay. He’s getting rave reviews on his summer concerts. Does songs from his “A Thousand Different Ways” CD, some fun with TV theme songs and then a medley of today’s music you’ll never ever hear with a symphony orchestra, like “Baby Got Back”, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” among others. It’s hysterical. Clay is a natural comedian, so funny that the banter from his shows is being recognized as being as good as his singing–which of course is remarkable! He can sing anything, has the pipes and range–he’s just damn good! Some male reviewers are admitting they actually like the guy and he is a fabulous entertainer and magical live on stage. Baby has grown up into a hunky sexy guy! No more geek–he’s gorgeous! OK Claymate enough for you. It’s starting to be hip to like him and you’d be in such good company

  5. I’d rather not see someone who won a karaoke contest belt out show tunes for the lowest common denominator of music fans. It doesn’t matter how good his voice is if the songs he sings are base and without merit. “Baby Got Back” and “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” didn’t win hearts and minds the first time around, so why should it this time?

    Also, why do his looks matter? Who cares how “hunky” this guy is? His songs are horrible.

  6. CarylAnn

    He is the best all around entertainer I have ever seen. I’ve seen Elton John, Billy Joel, Journey and many more and yes there are great musicians, but Clay has it all, the voice the comedic timing and the way he interacts with his fans and makes fun of himself is hilarious. He is who he is and he’s not afraid of it. He allows his 2 amazing back up singers to be the stars, how many singers do that. You’d have to see him to understand. He’s also a guy with a huge heart which is the main reason I love him, what he gives back is awesome. Go see him live before you judge.

  7. All of the groups you’ve mentioned I can name at least 10 songs by each artist that are still being played on radio today. I can’t name one Clay Aiken song. The very fact that he is in the Rod Stewart doing standards/Fat Elvis portion of his career after just 4 years is more of a testimony to his talent than anything else.

    Leave the schoolyard crushes for the schoolyard, and let’s talk about real musicians here.

  8. Carol & CarylAnn = Clay’s publicist(s). Has to be.

    And is “Claymates” the official term for his fanbase? Ha! Makes me think of the California Raisins more than anything else.

  9. Natalie

    Jason Bugg, why such a basher?? Could it be you are a bit jealous? Just go see one Clay Aiken concert, I dare you. You say it doesn’t matter what the guy sings, if “the songs he sings are base and without merit”. Um, all of the songs he has done covers of for his 2nd CD, A Thousand Different Ways, are huge hit songs–Richard Marx’s Right Here Waiting, Dolly Parton’s Here You Come Again, Harry Nilsen’s Without You…the list goes on. How are these songs “base and without merit”?? If it’s the songs like “Baby Got Back” and “Sexy Back” that you’re referring to as “base and without merit”, you clearly missed the point of him singing those! He sings those songs to MAKE FUN of how commercialized and soul-less most of the songs that get radio play today are.

    I also take HUGE offense at your calling Clay’s fans “the lowest common denominator of fans”. I’m a self-trained pianist with a passion for all types of music – Rolling Stones, Elvis, Sarah Brightman, Keith Urban, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Prince, Buddy Holly. (Yea, I’m a bit eclectic in my tastes.) Don’t go bashing the fans just because you don’t like Clay Aiken.

    So enough about Jason. Alli, to answer your question…you’ve got to see Clay perform to understand his adoring followers. Yes, he sings TV songs in this tour, but that’s not the meat of the night. His best songs are those that were written for HIM for A Thousand Different Ways (which everyone seems to FORGET about, namely – These Open Arms and Lover All Alone (which was a bonus song on iTunes, but should have been on the CD.)

    He sings these songs with such a depth of feeling and a technical expertise that few artists can match. His vocals are PERFECT and beautiful. He has an incredible vocal range–from very low notes to falsetto highs a la Michael Jackson. For Jason Bugg to call him a “no talent hack” just shows how ignorant he is–I guess he’s never even listened to a Clay Aiken song all the way through, and wouldn’t know talent if it hit him between the eyeballs.

    Besides being an phenomenally talented singer, Clay is so dang funny! He interacts with the audience at his shows, and cracks jokes like a young Johnny Carson. Not only that, but you can tell he really cares about the people who care about him! For example, after the Columbus, Ohio concert, he personally SHOOK HANDS with and thanked each of 2500 fans waiting patiently in line to see him before he boarded his tour bus (albeit he moved down the line very quickly!). What other celebrity do you know who does that??

    Aside from his vocal and performing expertise, and his love for his fans, Clay is also a man with a huge heart. He’s done work with UNICEF and has co-founded the Bubel Aiken charity.

    Please don’t let the sensationalized media stories, or the trends of what’s “hip” in music today sway you against Clay Aiken! Just give the man a chance, and you’ll be very, VERY surprised.

  10. A couple of things:

    First of all, Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting” should never be considered a good song. It’s 8th grade formal dance drek and nothing more. Second “Without You” was made popular by Harry Nilsson, but written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans, who were in a little band called Badfinger, you should check them out sometime.

    Now, on to the whole “Jason Bugg being jealous of Clay Aiken” comment, I’m not so much jealous of Aiken as I am ashamed that this is what popular music constitutes these days. It’s sad to see a karaoke contest winner get this much notoriety because he appeals to the soccer mom sect of our population, while other singers who have the self respect to not enter a karaoke contest go unnoticed.

    He can crack jokes all he wants to, he can shake hands all he wants to, he can go door to door selling his albums and serenading his loyal fans , but that will never change what he really is: Barry Manilow without the edge.

    Think about that: a less edgy Barry Manilow.

    I just threw up in my corn flakes.

  11. Richard

    I am the musical director in a venue in CT and have connections all across the US. Word has it that Clay Aiken in a TREMENDOUS performer, singer and entertainer. The haters are jealous men who are scared of the women who fall all over Aiken, men who are gay and WISH Aiken was, (REAL word has it Aiken isn’t gay), Kelly Clarkson and Ruben Studdard fans who fear Aiken.

  12. Alli Marshall

    Thanks so much to the serious commentors. I have to admit, reading reviews of Clay’s shows, listening to his online interviews and taking into account the raves of his fans I can’t help but like the guy. (That, and I’m a sucker for the “Lavern and Shirley” theme song …) Plus, how great is it that he’s working with the local symphonies on each of his stops?

    My question: Does hearing a performer like Clay, backed by a good pops symphony, bring more fans to symphony music? After hearing Clay and the Asheville Symphony at Biltmore, are you likely to attend a regular Asheville Symphony performance?

  13. sasha

    Alli: I am not even going to respond to someone as ignorant as Jason Bugg. Too many guys, who cannot get women on their own, are furious that we love Clay, because he awesome in every way.

    Please go to Clay’s Daily Double.com or Clay Aiken The Ideal Idol, and maybe then you will see why Clay is so loved, and I will never again have to read something as stupid as Bugg’s comments.
    What a jerk!!!

  14. uniqueNY

    He’s original, not like anyone out there in music. You KNOW who you are hearing when his voice is heard. He has his own way, his own style and he doesn’t have the need to fit in. He is a “love him or hate him” kind of person and that gets him a wild amount of attention. In his nerdiness, he causes curiousity and those of us who have cared to delve deeper, have found quite a fantastic man.
    The voice live is beyond belief and his humor is contagious. He may be the controversy “King,” but in the big picture, who cares about all the crap printed about him. This is a top notch entertainer. He’s not for everyone? That’s a good thing. Let his fans enjoy because we LOVE him.

  15. maureen

    No one in the world is his equal.

    Clay is Entertainment Personified!!

  16. kfc-canada

    I also don’t understand why, to join his fan club, I have to shell out $25 and look at a picture of him in which he seems to have been drugged and flung against a wall. ..Allie

    Give me a break, puuulllease….as if Clay Aiken is THE ONLY MUSIC PERFORMER to charge a few dollars to join his fan club!!!! If you don’t particularly like the displayed picture, with a click of the mouse, you could find at least one out of 500,000 more to choose from. But…..that does take effort…and interest.

    Clay really doesn’t need any of his enthusiastic fans to push his talents down the throats of those who don’t ‘get him’; nothing he or his fans can say will ever change the minds of those who prefer garage bands, heavy-metal,rap,soul etc. ad infinitum. Lovable dork that he is, Clay does his own thing, knowing he’s not considered cool and is not being played on the radio because he’s not ‘in’. Tis a pity..but..who really cares? We can buy his CD’s and sell out his concerts and view all the videos of him that we like. We all know how to click a mouse.

    What really amazes me..is that soooooooooo many people from the South..as in North Carolina….have the same type of speech..that sexy soft drawl with the ‘y’all’ and all y’all’..and ‘Mah’and ‘Ah’…and know it’s a character trait of true southerners..and, yet, act as if Clay is gay just because he has those exact same characteristics. What does this say about all southerners who speak the same??? Is every single guy in North Caroline gay, too….? Must be….they all sound the same….

    The only reason people could possibly think of visiting Asheville is because Clay will be there….I can think of no other reason people would spend thousands of dollars to visit a place where people think nothing of calling down one of their own.

    I suggest that if you are thinking of writing a column about Clay’s visit to Asheville, Allie, forget it. You can’t do it. We have lots of talented writers in the claynation who can give Clay the credit and respect he truly deserves. I’d rather read something intelligent.

  17. Kayla

    Alli:
    To answer your question , there were a heck of a lot of Symphony people having their socks knocked off after watching Clay’s performances. Several have attested to the fact that they were thoroughly entertained! At one venue Clay came to the buses after the show and shook hands with 2,500 people waiting in line (one that streched for miles and had people not even at the concet coming out of their houses to shake his hand )

    Look, people can like whom they chose to like, but there is no denying that this dude has the ‘pipes of perfection’ and shares a unique repore with his auidance that has them rolling in the isles and begging for more. Clay constantly gets standing ovations with each venue selling out or coming quite close to it ! There have been reviewers that were going to the concert with a biased mind-set but came out of the concert clearly having enjoyed the evening !

    When an artist can have his audiance eating out of the palm of his hand and hanging on his every word , that is a success !
    I have been to 4 of his 9 concert tours over the years with each one beeing new , unique & refreshing . It is Clive Davis that put him in the “Manilow” box , but believe me Clay Aiken is so much more than that . Just give a listen to a song David Foster had the melody for and Clay wrote the lyrics to , called “LOVER ALL ALONE”. When he sings that in concert you could hear a pin drop. The venue is enveloped in mesmorizing awe and appreciation for the feeling and artistry in the song. When Clay is singing songs like “BABY GET BACK”, “SEXY BACK”, OPP, TWO STEPS FORWARD, YEAH, etc. he is only singing snippets of the songs to make light of the artistry (or lack thereof) on the radio nowadays ! He is showing yet another side of himself …..it is truly hilarious and people LOVE this segment of the show !! Clay has had on his past tour invited people of all ages up on stage to either sing or dance with him , again showing his ability to relate to his fans. Clay will even give time to his back-up singers to showcase their talents. I don’t see many artists doing that these days.

    Clay Aiken’s concerts are a time wherein familys can go together to see him . People of all ages , Moms, Dads, Grandmas , Grandpas, Teens, Tweens …people from all walks life as well are attending and the reviews are phenominal!

    The plain & simple fact of what I and many other fans enjoy about Clay is that besides his talent , he is the “REAL DEAL” ! Clay is comfortable in his own skin , he has risen above anything they naysayers will say about him ..he is so far beyond that ! He at times is humbly self-depricating where he can polk fun at himself…..another quality fans love about him.
    There will always be the naysayers and haters as with any performer , but there is no escaping the FACT that this dude can SING & he can ENTERTAIN !!!!!!!

  18. Ken Hanke

    I am always fascinated by the psychological perspicacity evidenced by those who can categorically state why “haters” (how I detest that term) dislike someone or something. Is it actual clairvoyance or what?

    And high marks to Mr. Bugg for knowing the origins of “Without You” and being able to spell Nilsson.

  19. caseymother

    Clay is an amazing entertainer..but more importatly he is an American Idol..someone who i would rather have our kids emulate more than anyone else i can think of… His morality is unscathed in a horrble world. He is such a breath of fresh air! Proud to be a Claymate…

  20. caseymother

    AND if you hate him so much, what are you doin posting comment after comment in an article related to him? You won’t find Clay’s fans arguing about his greatness….we KNOW how it is…if you don’t…..it’s really no problem…we’re very happy in our place….very, very happy

  21. MAE

    True talent. Unlike what you hear on the radio, this man can sing!!!! No crotch-grabbing, rap crap!!! He is DECENT and TALENTED. Woo Hoo… What a concept!!!!

    I could write a litany about his kind and generous acts, but I’ll let someone cover that aspect, which is just another part of the total package that is Clay Aiken.

  22. Jeff

    I can’t stand the guy, but he’s a contemporary crooner. Look at the likes of Barry Manilow, what Rod Stewart has become and of course, you can’t leave out Mr. Danke Schoen himself, Wayne Newton. I’m not a fan of any of them, but they have that formula that appeals to a large enough fraction of society to keep them successful. They sing, smile, and wink at the ladies. Although, I think in Clay’s case, men. However, I’m not making judgement, just theory.

  23. Kayla

    Jeff:
    See this is WHY you don’t understand . For someone that does not follow Clay’s career and listens to the media instead , you would get the idea that Clay is one-dimentional. I completely see where you are coming from believe me !
    Seeing Clay in concert, he is soooooo much more . People are blown away by how he is breaking out of the box old Clive put him in !
    His voice can go places people did not think possible . His personality is warm & giving , coupled with that quick snark & banter just makes him a phenominal entertainer . Take the time to go and see Clay in concert and you will see for yourself!!

  24. Ken Hanke

    The problem with the advice being given above has nothing whatever to do with Clay Aiken. It rests completely on the basic false belief that because one person thinks something or someone is the bee’s knees, it follows that everyone else will, too, if they’ll only give said thing or said person a chance. With all due respect — banana oil. There is no such thing as a universal concept of what is and isn’t good. What strikes one person as, in this case, Aiken’s voice and its stated ability to “go places people did not think possible,” will strike another as incomprehensible hyperbolic puffery, and no amount of exposure to him is likely to change that unless something about Aiken and his voice connects with the individual in some personal — not universal — way. Personally, I don’t see it, or hear it as the case may be. I have friends who think Michael Buble is wonderful. To me he’s like Sinatra and water, and as a matter of personal preference and what resonates with me Sinatra comes nowhere near Bing Crosby. There are lots of voices that resonate with me from Bing to Jolson to the Beatles (collectively and separately) to Ray Davies to Elton to Roger Daltrey to Leo Sayer to Harry Nilsson to Ethel Waters to Melanie Safka to Hurricane Smith (!) and more. That does not make them singers whom everyone will love if they only listen to them.

  25. Kayla

    Ken:
    Nicely state and yes I can see your point. It is well taken. I have also heard from people with the same point of view as yourself and when they took the opportunity to go see his show , as I said they were blown away …..Never ever in a million years did they think they would enjoy him , but they did !
    Listen, to each their own . If Clay is not to your liking , that’s fine …to yourself he may not be your cup of tea . What I don’t like (and I may not be referring to yourself Ken) is that people pre-judge Clay without even knowing what they are talking about , but instead just take in all the gossip and judge by ‘perception’ ~!
    I guess I am just so grateful to have someone in the biz that has good morals & values , good sense of humour , and a phenominal voice without lip-syncing ! (How different nowadays !!) .

    Ken, I also wish to state that while you don’t “GET” Clay I appreciated the fact that you did not religate yourself to the bashing & insults that are hurled his way ! Thank you !

  26. MAE

    Yeah!!! Ken. Thanks for an intelligent conversation. The music industry is like a box of chocolates. There’s something for every one. Clay just happens to fill the niche for those who enjoy his talent combined with personality and morality. There are many in the public eye that I would not walk around the corner to see but I don’t spend a second of my time thinking about them. There is absolutely no reason for the bashing and pure CRAP thrown at Clay Aiken and his fans. Poor guy, gets it from every angle but he remains confident in himself, his abilities and in his fans. True many of his fans are “older”, meaning they are not 19 but they are mature and have shown that they will stand by him through thick and thin. They have shown that they will not shift like the wind as is typical of teenagers and 20 somethings. Being older also doesn’t hurt when it comes to traveling to see Clay. They, myself included, are more likely to have stable jobs and a cash flow that allows for travel.

    Allie, to answer your question, I think Clay Aiken is the most popular AI alum because, for MANY people, he fills a void in the music industry. Even though Ken doesn’t care for his voice, it is his voice, not some over synthesized mumbo jumbo with profanity thrown in for good measure. For most people, the more facts they learn about him, the more they like and respect him. I think he has out performed most of the AI winners because, first, his talent is undeniable. Second, is his desire to succeed. He is not a “sit on your hands” kind of guy. Someone once called him “very ambitious” as if that were a bad thing. If he didn’t have a desire to succeed, I certainly would not want to be spending my hard earned money on him. He has accomplished a lot and has many plans for the future. This guy is in it for the long haul. He wants more than 15 minutes. He doesn’t want the FAME. He wants to sing, entertain and give back. Despite the negatives, he has done what it takes to make these things happen and I appreciate that.

    When he no longer enjoys performing and being on the road, I hope he will quit, and devote his time to the Bubel Aiken Foundation and other endeavors close to his heart. As long as he’s entertaining, I’ll be there. When’s he not, I guess I’ll be listening to his CD’s and surfing the Internet from my room in the retirement home.

    There are two sayings in the Claynation that sum up this entire phenomena. One is “We came for the voice, but stayed for the man.” The other one is, “If you get there’s no explanation necessary. If you don’t, there’s no explanation possible.”

  27. Christine

    Alli, simply put I had a great time at Clay’s recent Newark NJ concert. The vocals and accoustics were fantastic and Clay has the ability to make the audience feel as though they are part of the show. He is very funny and his phenomenal back up singers not only add their amazing vocals but they are funny as well. We were dancing,clapping and singing along during the medley skits as was the entire audience.
    Jeff, I hear what you are saying about the Manilow, Rod Stewart thing etc. Clay was added to their “cover box” by his label. At least Manilow and Stewart have had about 30 years or so in the music business, so in my opinion it was ridiculous for Clay to put out a cover love song album at this point in his career but he had no choice. Even so he makes the best out of it in concert, infact I really enjoyed a couple of songs in concert that I skip on the cd.
    Ken I don’t get Michael Buble either and yet he is selling out concerts like crazy. It proves your point that what one person loves another may not.

  28. Anna

    Alli said: “I don’t understand why Clay Aiken is perhaps the most popular of all the American Idol runners up. I also don’t understand why, to join his fan club, I have to shell out $25 and look at a picture of him in which he seems to have been drugged and flung against a wall.”

    I don’t care for that picture, either, Alli, when there are so many – mostly taken by fans – that are much better.

    She continued: “Someone out there gets it, though: the attraction to this waifish crooner.”

    Well, I certainly “get” the attraction, but in no way would I consider Clay “waifish.” The man is over 6 feet tall, wears designer clothes like a model, and has quite a commanding presence.

    And I wouldn’t call him a “crooner,” either. Perry Como was a crooner. Dean Martin might be called a crooner. So could Bing Crosby. I don’t think Clay Aiken can be classified. He is extremely versatile and can sing many, many styles. He has done so in concert, and I have had the pleasure of listening.

    Alli again: “Explain it to me, please.”

    Well, that is indeed a tall order. How does one explain the unexplainable, a true phenomenon? I’ll list a few of the qualities that I admire the most about Mr. Aiken.

    1. His talent is unmistakable. His voice is unique and, in my opinion, unequalled in the pop music genre. When Clay goes into the studio, the pro tools are not needed. And when Clay sings live, it’s really, really live. No lipsyncing, no dubbing, just pure voice.

    2. He’s a natural comedian — extremely quick-witted — and doesn’t miss a trick. His humor is mostly self-deprecating, and it works on many levels.

    3. He is very intelligent. He would make an excellent talk show host because he is knowledgeable about current events, politics, and pop culture. He has a university degree and appears to be learning a good bit about the business side of the entertainment world, as well.

    4. He’s a good guy. No, he’s not an angel, and thank goodness for that. But in a world where celebrities make news for drug abuse, violence, and all kinds of other shenanigans, Clay is more interested in making a difference. The Bubel-Aiken Foundation, which Clay started in 2003, is flourishing. TBAF promotes inclusion of children with disabilities into programs alongside children without disabilites. Clay has been named a UNICEF ambassador for education and has traveled to Indonesia, Uganda, and Afghanistan. He was also appointed to The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilites.
    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/pcpid/pcpid_2002combios.html#aiken
    In addition, he has no interest in singing or speaking about pimps or hos, isn’t vulgar in his speech, and treats all kinds of people equally. But he does have a wicked sense of humor. :)

    5. He is a great role model. As well as his humanitarian efforts, Clay has had to stare down vicious tabloid garbage and outright lies, yet he has continued to persevere. I sincerely doubt I could have survived what he has been through. The man is a class act.

    Let me add a few more thoughts:
    — It is unfair to judge someone if you haven’t seen him perform live.
    — Clay is nothing like Wayne Newton or Barry Manilow — not that there’s anything wrong with either of those men — just that Clay is very different. By the way, he’s different from Buble and Groban, too.
    — Clay says he doesn’t “get” the attraction, either. Ha.
    — Clive Davis made Clay make an album of oldies. Clay wanted all new, original music. It is ridiculous to blame Clay with the concept of the album.
    — I see nothing remotely interesting about Justin Timberlake, but lots of people apparently love him. I don’t waste my time going to blogs about him and listing reasons why I don’t care for him. I just ignore him.
    — The argument that the “classics” medley in his current concert consists of songs that aren’t that great — Hello!!! That’s the point. It’s satire. And a big hit, too, I might add.
    — The TV theme song medley is great entertainment. What’s wrong with that?
    — I’m going to selfishly add this one! He’s from North Carolina. As a North Carolinian myself, I am extremely proud of him. I do not understand why NC people find the need to put him down.
    — That Bugg person is just saying all that stuff to be annoying.
    — And just for the record, I am a 27-year-old, well-educated female who has been exposed to all different types of music. I have been to many Clay Aiken concerts and have found him to be the best all-around entertainer I’ve ever heard. Some of his fans might be called “mature,” yes, but that means nothing. His fan base is highly diverse, and it is wrong for people to speak in such a dismissive way about people who appreciate a great voice, a fine man, and positive presence.

    Thank you for this opportunity.

  29. I actually have a point, and you just proved it to me, Anna.

    You spent one paragraph on what he sounds like and upwards of 5 paragraphs on things he does that are unrelated to music. Correct me if I’m wrong here, but that’s what he’s coming to Asheville to do, right? He’s not coming here to help the sick, or the retarded, or whatever. He’s not coming here to tell jokes, and he’s most certainly not coming here to wear expensive suits and not look awkward.

    Last I checked he was coming to the Biltmore to sing and to entertain a crowd of people who seem to have every reason to like him except for his music.

    But hey what do I know? I’m one of those old fashioned types who learn about music away from the television and most of the time wouldn’t recognize the artists that I enjoy if they were standing across the street from me.

    So he may be that “fine man” and “positive presence” that you desperately require. I’m sure it helps you sleep at night knowing that such a white bread hack like Aiken is out there. But for me, it confirms that most people just aren’t intelligent and would rather spend their entertainment dollar on easily digestible pablum instead of seeking out music that challenges their minds in the same way that Mr. Aiken seems to challenge most of the “Claymates'” genitals.

  30. MAE

    Jason, you are one of those people that will not give Clay half a chance no matter what. Fortunately, there are many people, fans and industry professionals such as the Fosters, who understand that with Clay, the music is a given. He was blessed with true talent and he uses it and the opportunities that come with it to make a difference. In fact, when he gives an autograph he signs, “Use Your Voice”. Certainly, he knows that not all of us can sing, but he is making a point that we all should speak out on matters of importantance. All of the other things that Anna has so eloquently pointed out, are the things that make him stand apart from those who are “in”. He does not do these things for the fame and glory. He is genuine and not just looking for a photo op. Combined with his multiple talents, the points Anna has made about the OTHER facets of Clay, are what make him the TOTAL package for so many people.

    He is far from a cookie cutter, label-made, lip-synching flash in the pan. He is a very intelli-gent, forward thinking, singing sensation. He is the REAL DEAL.

  31. Anna

    Jason, I believe those people are going to the Biltmore to be entertained, and Clay will do that with BOTH his humor and his voice.

    I was answering Alli’s question concerning the “attraction” to Clay. I thought she was referring to the total package, not just the voice. You seem to me to be the only one focusing completely on the music, although, of course, that was the first attraction.

    I am curious as to what you think is good music. (I suspect if you gave me some examples, I might not agree with you.) Because to me, what Clay sings is great music. It doesn’t really matter what the song is, because he can sing a variety of styles. And it’s really insulting for you to refer to people who enjoy a wonderful vocalist as “the lowest common denominator” and people who “just aren’t intelligent.”

    I would like to ask you who proclaimed you the intelligence police? But I won’t, because that’s probably what you want me to do.

    I happen to be quite intelligent, thank you very much, and I cannot imagine why anyone would choose to put down others simply because their tastes in music vary.

  32. Anna: What do I think is good music? Right now I am digging on Captain Beefheart, Bruce Springsteen, The Beach Boys, Minor Threat, Astrud Gilberto, the J. Giels Band and Al Jolson. I never claimed to be the authority on music, I just claimed to be someone who listens with their ears instead of their remote controls or their crotch.
    Think about it, if Clay was an ugly person (which I happen to be) would you listen to him? Would the bored housewives of America flood the Xpress’ website with proclamations of his talent and randomly CAPITALIZE things? I think not.

    I also proclaimed myself to be the intelligence police. It was a small ceremony. I invited Ken Hanke, my wife and my cats.

  33. Anna

    Response:

    Jason: “Anna: What do I think is good music? Right now I am digging on Captain Beefheart, Bruce Springsteen, The Beach Boys, Minor Threat, Astrud Gilberto, the J. Giels Band and Al Jolson.”

    Well, that’s quite an eclectic list. I will restrain myself from commenting on the punk stuff, so I’ll use Springsteen as an example. If you say it’s just the music, then if your average garage band were to play some Springsteen stuff, you’d like the songs just as much, right? It isn’t The Boss’s image or demeanor or persona that interests you at all. You couldn’t care less how he presents himself. If John Doe were singing “insert Springsteen tune of choice,” it would all be the same. I doubt it. You probably like the sound of his voice and the expression that he puts into the vocals and his sort of rebel image. Well, I like the sound of Clay’s voice and the expression that he puts into his vocals and the person that is behind those vocals. It’s just personal preference, that’s all.

    Jason: “I never claimed to be the authority on music, I just claimed to be someone who listens with their ears instead of their remote controls or their crotch.”

    Well, that’s just silly. If it hadn’t been for the voice, no one would have noticed him. As for listening with my ears, I’ve tried listening to Minor Threat and Captain Beefheart, but it was too painful. Oops, my mistake. Said I wasn’t going to comment. Different strokes and all.

    Jason: “Think about it, if Clay was an ugly person (which I happen to be) would you listen to him? Would the bored housewives of America flood the Xpress’ website with proclamations of his talent and randomly CAPITALIZE things? I think not.”

    1. Probably.
    2. Don’t see any bored housewives here — although I am now bored with this discussion. Besides, what’s wrong with being a bored housewife?
    3. I also don’t see anyone “flooding” this site — except you. Maybe you’re really a bored housewife in disguise. Alli asked for responses, and I responded. Has nothing to do with being bored or a housewife — and I am neither.

    Jason: “I also proclaimed myself to be the intelligence police. It was a small ceremony. I invited Ken Hanke, my wife and my cats.”

    Your cats told my cats that they rolled their eyes during the entire ceremony and that they only hang around for the cat food.

    And from your previous post:
    “He’s not coming here to help the sick, or the retarded, or whatever.”

    Your use of the word “retarded” really made me sit up and take notice. You do know that the term is considered unacceptable in today’s society, don’t you? Might want to make a note of that.

  34. Ken Hanke

    If Mr. Bugg’s set of Captain Beefheart didn’t include “Making Love to a Vampire with a Monkey on My Knee,” then it really doesn’t count. It remains to be determined whether or not the Jolson recordings were early, mid, or Decca period.

    You know, over on a message board I help moderate, someone has tried to make the case that the Carpenters weren’t vapid.

  35. Anna: my use of the word “retarded” was by choice. It was shocking language meant to grab your attention and take notice. I guess it worked.

    You be nice about my cats. Patsy and Lillian and fine and wonderful creatures who’s hearts are full of love and hope for a better tomorrow where effeminate lounge singers have no career and geniuses like me are the tastemakers.

    Hanke: of course it has “Vampire” in fact, it has all of Beefheart’s albums, including those awful 70s ones that seem to love even though most Beefheart fans despise them.

    I dig some early Jolson stuff. I like the minstrel songs, and of course the big hits like “Swanee” and “Let me sing and I’m happy”

  36. Kayla

    Jason said:
    Think about it, if Clay was an ugly person (which I happen to be) would you listen to him? Would the bored housewives of America flood the Xpress’ website with proclamations of his talent and randomly CAPITALIZE things? I think not.
    My Response:
    CLAY AIKEN had me at “TAKE” …the first word of his audition song. Believe me , there are some not to good lookin people in the biz ….i.e. Bob Dylan , Elton John , Lionel Ritchie, Celine Dion, and in years past Buddy Holly , Jerry Lee Lewis that were not drop dead gorgeous.
    Clay Aiken for me had what is called the “IT” factor . Something unique deep within himself. Just like Paula said with one of Clay’s performances …..HE JUST “IS”! If we are just talking about voice here ….well Clay has the pipes , the dude can sing , there is no denying that ‘fact’ . He may not be to your liking , but he can indeed use the gift God gave him cover a range of high notes as well as the deep low notes , plus he has been known to hold a note for as long as it takes to buy a cake , bake it , ice it and have it eaten !!! (ok, I am stretching here a bit ,…but he can hold out the notes) .

    All other attributes Clay posseses are added bonuses for us , parts of who he is ! How he relates to his audiance , making them feel like they are in his living room is a talent many celebs don’t have. To take time after each and every concert to shake hands with all who wait hours at the buses for him shows that he cares for his fans!

    There is sooooo much more to Clay than what you are seeing , just the same as a lot of folks don’t like the music you like ….and that is ok, but just don’t spend time trying to bash the dude , cus simply put he is so far above it right now !

  37. MAE

    Allie, have your gotten what you were looking for in the responses here? If not, I can link your piece over to a website where you will get more of a response that you ever dreamed of. You might find it interesting that 20 or so ladies from Japan made their first trip to the USA this weekend to see Clay live on the West coast. Obvioulsy, they get it!!!!

  38. bette

    Clay is a great performer. Period. Check it out.

    Is there any other artist who has detractors flooding sites with crap??

    I don’t get the appeal. Why doesn’t he go to the Al Jolson site?

    I dislike lots of artists but I wouldn’t spend time posting about them or even visiting a chat about them.

    Who is this hater dude who can’t get enough Clay chat?

  39. Ken Hanke

    In all fairness, it should be pointed out that this is not a Clay Aiken fan site. It’s merely a thread on the Xpress site, so it’s not quite the same thing as going to a site specifically to make disparaging remarks about Aiken. Now, if you were to tell me that Jason Bugg is going to actual Aiken fan sites just to stir things up, then I’d agree that at best he has too much time on his hands. (And I’m quite sure there are people who do this.)

  40. Kayla

    Ken:

    Yes I agree , there are far too many people that think it a hilarity to make it their life’s purpose to frequent Clay sites and go about their bashing. It is however beyond me why though???
    I don’t seek out the sites of Kanye West websites to give my opinion of how there is not a door big enough to put his head through!!

  41. Ken Hanke

    It’s the nature of the Internet (see JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK), because it allows just about anyone to say just about anything on every topic under the sun — with relative anonymity. Scroll back on this thread and you’ll find that there are only four people posting under their full names. Nothing wrong with that, but it does tend to make folks a little more outspoken.

    I don’t get the point of deliberately seeking out a fan site and going there for the express purpose of telling its members how lousy you think their shared interest is, but a lot of people seem to thrive on it. At the same time, I don’t get a lot of the fan reaction either. The tendency to call anyone who doesn’t agree with them a “hater,” dismiss their views as “jealousy,” etc. strikes me as being on a similar level. Fans get pretty darn strange at times. For instance, the final LORD OF THE RINGS movie had been voted the best film ever made on the Internet Movie Database two weeks before anyone but a handful of critics had even seen it. How strange is that? Enthusiasm is one thing, but that goes way beyond any reasonable level.

    However, my original point was that Mr. Bugg has not — so far as I know — been going around to Clay Aiken fan sites espousing his distaste for the guy, and that while his comments (and tastes) may be far afield from those of the “Claymates,” their occurence here — on a site he frequents frequently — does not put him in the category that was suggested.

  42. oldladybug

    It appears to me that many of Clay’s detractor’s consider him nothing but an amateur singer who lucked into a successful graduation from American Idol (which they consider a low starting point).
    I would simply like to express that Clay has been paid for singing for several years before trying out for American Idol. We have about 100 videos of his early performances in professional shows in North Carolina. We have others back to grade school and high school as a star at that level.

    Just because Clive Davis and the A & R men never happened to fish in every local club and show in every state in the union does not mean that “discoverable talent” does not exist there. American Idol has proven that point.

    Major Bowes was the first of these amateur shows on the radio. They found Frank Sinatra. Arthur Godfrey had a national TV amateur show for years, many local radio and TV stations have their own shows of this type and each find some level of talent every year. A lot of well-thought-of performers came from Star Search – Christina Aguilara, Rosie O’Donnell, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake among the most notable. Most of them did not win either.

    American Idol has proven the point better than anyone else and have identified a good deal of enjoyable artists. I say artists because if they are out there, entertaining audiences, their artistry has been developed, mostly after leaving Idol. They have taken their spectacular training from there and injected and projected their personal, individual talents to continue to grow. Some will stall and be gone before too long but there will be those who continue to climb, maximizing their opportunities because of their basic talent being very great in the first place.

    As far as the word “haters” is concerned – these people have long proven their existence and that they totally deserve and welcome that designation. From the 2003 website with a picture of a target over Clay’s head to the huge effort to make DJ’s hate Claymates, which put the possibility of good airplay in the dumper from day one. And, to the present where their blogged crap influences many like a couple of posters here. Hater is a well-earned title.

    Clay’s talent and the ever-growing, loyal fanbase have and will continue to overcome.

  43. BJ

    JASON, Clay Aiken DID NOT WIN American Idol…as you stated…whoops! He came in second. Not bad
    for a runner up…by the way are you a Millionaire? Have you used your voice to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate? Are you striving to make a difference in lives of those who have disabilities so that they can be included with thoes who do not?

    Not bad for second place to have over 14,000 people show up at some of your concerts to hear your voice and your songs. Not bad for no radio play time.
    If you do not like Clay Aiken or his music that is your choice. But before you make that choice atleast go to one concert and see how it really is instead of just what you have conjured up in your mind or heard through the media who has it wrong also….You might be surprised.

    Clay Aiken has many fans. A whole Clay Nation.
    Fans who stand beside him regardless.
    He uses his voice in song and as he tells us…It does not matter how he makes a difference, he just wants to make sure that he does.

    In his four years of being a celebrity we could not began to tell you the Difference that Clay Aiken has made in this world. He also made a differnece before he even auditioned for American Idol in the lives of many children. He has a degree in Special Education.

    We Love Clay Aiken the Entertainer for his Talent and The Man Clay Aiken for his Big Heart and what he gives back.

    This is why we “Came for the Voice and Stayed for the Man”.

  44. Julie

    I must say, that though I am a fan of Clay Aiken, I find Jason’s commentary funny — funny in that he’s so distraught that “we all” exist and take up a miniscule corner of his beloved universe that he has his boxers in a twist. At least he’s amusing. And I mean that with all sincerity. I’m laughing my ass off.

    Ken… you’re a wise man.

    Not all of us are “Claymates”. Not all of freak out at the “haters” (stooopid word). Not all of us try to “sell” our musical internet boyfriend. We’re just having a good time; enjoying his personality, enjoying his singing (some of his songs, notsomuch), and enjoying sharing our fun with those who also like the guy.

    Hell, some of us don’t even think he’s particularly cute. But he does have some kick ass vocal and entertaining talent (IMO), and he does crack me up on a regular basis. He’s a funny, happy dude and I love him (in a purely fan/celebrity sort of way, of course).

    Anyway, I see your article is already printed, Alli. Thanks for writing it, and thanks for asking for our thoughts.

    Signed,

    Not bored, not a housewife, not an old lady, not even a soccer mom, don’t like Barry, Rod, or Buble; I’m more the Al Dimeola, Dave Mason, Stevie Ray Vaughan type… Ok, fine, I’m an old lady. BFD. I still love me some Clay Aiken. Sue me.

  45. The only reason Clay Aiken does so much for charity is because he feels guilty for putting such horrible music out there.

  46. Kayla

    Jason:

    This is why non-Clayfans wonder why we get angry . It is unncecssary & uniformed coments such as the one you just made.

    Clay has been involved in charity way before Idol came along. I am glad that there are people such as Clay Aiken who just want to make a difference . Through his foundation & UNICEF he has raised quite an enourmous amount of money . Clay just does not ‘talk the talk’ he ‘walks the walk’ . Check out his trips to Uganda & Afganistan to be elightened …..somehow though I don’t think you will , instead you will continue to make uneducated remarks of that which you know nothing about.

  47. BJ

    In Case you have not heard the Bubel/Aiken co-founder, Clay Aiken is appearing on a celebrity edition of “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?”
    The date is to be announced but Clay will be taping his episode on August 28, 2007.
    The Foundation will receive at least $25,000 donation from the show. Anything beyond the $25,000 that Clay earns by answering “elementary”
    questions will also be donated to the Foundation. He will neeed 6 questions to get beyond the minimum. 11 questions correct means the Foundation will receive a $1 MILLION check from the show. A challenge of Pledges to the Bubel/Aiken Foundation are being accepted for each correct answer Clay gives on the show. Whether 50 cents or a hundred dollars, every amount will help the Foundation get closer to their goal of 100 “Let’s ALL Play Camps in 2008.
    fox.com/areyousmarter/ will announce the date when show will be aired…

    Good Luck Clay.

    This is Clay’s project following the completion of his “An Evening With Clay Aiken” tour.

    August 10 Cary NC
    August 11 Asheville,NC
    August 12 Knoxville, TN
    August 15 Atlanta, GA
    August 17 Tampa, FL
    August 18 West Palm Beach FL
    August 19 Orlando, FL

    Hey Jason, perhaps you need to go back a read all the input. You obviously missed the point made.
    Clive Davis “Mandated” Clay’s last album. Cover songs even though Clay had an album of originals ready to go…Clive stopped it. Clay had to go into the recording studio and start over to record the “Covers” for his last album…
    Watch for the next album, someone “NEW” will be working with Clay on the next one. Stay Tuned.

    Go And Listen to the song Clay wrote the Lyrics to. The music was written by David Foster for Clay.
    “Lover All Alone” will probably be on Clay’s Next Album we hear. We hope so. It is beautiful. When he sings this song there is silence in the venues. You could hear a pin drop.

    So we have tried to tell you how talented Clay is, how big hearted he is, how he has a connection with his fans like no other entertainer. How he give kudos to his back up singers and let’s them have the spotlight. Jesse his conductor/arranger, and Sean his drummer and all the local Symphony orchestras who play with him at every city. They practice abour 1 1/2 to two hours the music for the whole show and some without Clay but one of the backups singing his part in practice…He comes out and sings the entire program without missing a beat.
    The symphonies are astounded at how professional he and his people are. Then following the show, he goes and greets his fans who go to the bus line many times blocks long…to say Thank You.

    He knows how he got where he is today. He knows who put him there and he never fails to say he
    remembers very well …and he loves his family.
    of fans.

    Now we have said our part on Clay’s behalf as we know to be true. Like Clay says. You either like him or you don’t. He is happy in his own skin and with himself and where he is today in his career.
    What you want to think…noone is going to change your mind….so be it….!!!!!! Your choice.

  48. Dave Sloane

    Give it up, Jason. They don’t care what you think. They just love that dude. We saw him at Chautauqua last month. He is who he is and he doesn’t give a rat’s ass if he’s cool or if you hate him. That’s one of the things that makes him so cool. He’s been a semi-professional singer since he was a kid. This is not some guy that was made by a reality show, they just launched him to the next level.

  49. Kayla and Dave. I’m sorry you have to listen to such bad music. Please send me your addresses and 10 bucks, and I will make you a mix CD. We can work through this, and I can help you.

  50. MAE

    Jason, have you every considered a job with Kenmore? You are one terrific agitator. Fortunately, Clay is strong and has become accustomed to your kind. Clay fans are happy in their world. Move on…You are definitely not going to sway anyone’s opinion here.

    Looking forward to seeing Clay tonight myself, even if it is 104 degrees in NC.

  51. Kayla

    Jason:

    ROFL! Well at least your last remark was not rude, but made me laugh !!!!
    IMO Clay Aiken is worth a lot more than the measly $10 you are asking for some other music !!!!!!
    I do like other artists as well as Clay, but no one (since the BEATLES) in fact has had such an impact on me as Clay Aiken has. Clay has even reached into my heart and touched me spiritually. I love what he stands for, his morals, values and simply that he wants to make a difference in this “ME”(istic) society! By virtue of the fact that within his fanbase there have been tremendous frienships made. People that once never thought they could travel alone have traversed hundreds of miles to see him and know they are not alone!! It is truly a thing of hope and inspiration.
    For those who just dont ‘get’ Clay Aiken there is no explaination good enough, but for those that do ‘get’ him , no explaination is needed …..CLAY AIKEN JUST IS !!!!!!1

  52. Sandy

    I am a 63 year old mother of 3 grown children; 2 are boys. I could not be more proud of Clay than as if he were my own son. I adore him. He is just a wonderful singer.

  53. redwing

    Kayla, your last sentence sums it up nicely. I get Clay, did from the first…..I refuse to defend myself to those who don’t. Nuff said

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