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Measure of a Man

Clay Aiken

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Album Review

Justin Guarini, the runner-up on the first American Idol, released his album ten months after the competition ended and two months after Kelly Clarkson, the winner of the competition, released her debut. Clay Aiken, the runner-up on the second American Idol, released his first album, Measure of a Man, a mere five months after the close of competition and two and a half months before the winner, Ruben Studdard, released his record. Clearly, Clay was something more than a singer that came in second — he was a bit of a pop phenomenon, capturing the hearts and minds of American Idol's core audience of preteens and housewives. To those not part of either demographic — including those who faithfully watched AMIdol — his appeal is a little puzzling, since he's hardly the cutest teen idol, looking a bit like Thom Yorke as a Southern-fried theater nerd, and his voice his better-suited for show tunes and his musical taste is thoroughly middle-of-the-road. Whenever he tried to tackle dancier material he seemed like he was singing a foreign language, and he never seemed at ease wearing or doing anything remotely hip; at least Kelly and Justin seemed somewhat comfortable doing teen-oriented material. Clive Davis, smart man that he is, decided to play up Clay's MOR bent on Measure of Man, never pushing Aiken toward club-ready dance cuts like "Miss Independent," or trying to approximate the sound of the Matrix or Neptunes on any cut. Instead, this is firmly pitched at adult contemporary radio, thanks to the cleanly professional production and the selection of self-consciously mature songs, written by such industry stalwarts as Desmond Child and Cathy Dennis (early-'80s metalhead Aldo Nova, of all people, gets in on the action, too, with "This Is the Night," the single that preceded Measure of a Man; it's included here, inexplicably called a "bonus cut," even though it's inserted at track nine of a 12-song album and there's been no version of the album without the song). Clay's earnest delivery — somewhat sweet and expertly coached — gives these songs a bit of innocence and believability, but the slickness of the whole enterprise overshadows his voice, particularly because his voice isn't all that remarkable on record. Perhaps it's due to the rushed release schedule of the album (to everyone's credit, it doesn't sound rushed), leading to Aiken overworking his voice, but his voice doesn't dazzle the way it occasionally could on the show; isolated from the visuals and his competitors, his voice sounds diminished. Even so, it's perfectly suited for this safe MOR album, and while none of the songs really catch hold, it doesn't matter since the sound of the record is pleasant and perfect for radio, which will please both the preteens and housewives, which is all Measure of a Man needed to do, anyway.

Customer Reviews

Simply Irresistible

Clay Aiken's talent is soaring the nation. This CD, being his first, really shows his talent and dedication to music. I think he has a beautiful voice and he is a beautiful man. The song "Invisible" has been and always wll be a song very close to my heart. You go, Clay!

Measure of a Man

Hmmm, I'm not a preteen or a housewife, so I don't even know if I'm allowed to comment here. Nonetheless, I bought this CD at Target a couple of weeks after it was released. It took me that long to get up the nerve to buy something I thought was so dorky. After all, I was always told by the media what was cool, and this wasn't it. Anyway, I popped it in my car CD player and didn't remove it until Clay's Christmas CD was released - over a year later. The soft beats made me happy. The lyrics were sung clearly, and I learned them almost instantly. I could attach every song to a person I knew or something going on in my life. It's safe to say this CD was the soundtrack of my 2004. So if enjoying this collection makes me uncool - like a preteen or a housewife - I welcome it into my life. That kid can sing. To heck with the status quo.

A true classic

I really do think this album deserves the 5 stars I gave it. The songs on this cd are absolutely phenomenal. I bought this cd when it came out and I seem to have lost it along the years. The minute i started playing one of these, I remembered the words right away. That has to say something about how memorable and fantastic these songs really are! Well its a definately good buy in my opinion.


Born: November 30, 1978 in Raleigh, NC

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '00s, '10s

As the second-place contestant on Fox television's second season of American Idol, vocalist Clay Aiken wowed television audiences with his Southern charm, sweet demeanor, and powerful tenor voice, all of which combined to make him a pop star (and, later, a fixture on Broadway). Originally, Aiken had planned to try out for the reality TV series The American Race, but went ahead and auditioned for the Idol competition to please an encouraging...
Full Bio

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