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> ~ Unlikely Pop Idol Sells Like Real Thing
Norbu
post Jun 7th 2003, 9:41 PM
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By JENNIFER BAYOT

Clay Aiken, rail thin with big ears, a goofy grin and a voice some critics dismiss as better suited for Broadway than MTV, does not appear to be your typical pop heartthrob. But his close second-place finish in the most recent "American Idol" contest on Fox was enough for the music impresario Clive Davis to sign him to the RCA record label he oversees.



Executives at RCA, part of BMG, the music division of Bertelsmann, say that producers and songwriters are clamoring to work with him. And even though Mr. Aiken's CD single, which includes "This Is the Night" and a remake of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," does not come out until June 10, it has spent the last two weeks as the best-selling CD on Amazon.com. According to Amazon, it has already sold four times as many copies as the pending CD single by Ruben Studdard, the winner of this latest version of "American Idol."



But since prevailing pop-star theory fails in many ways to explain Mr. Aiken's popularity, RCA will be navigating uncharted marketing currents as it releases the single, and later an album, which is expected in August or September. Asked what their advice would be on Mr. Aiken's musical choices and image, music industry executives and journalists were pleased to oblige.



Rick Krim, executive vice president for music and talent at VH1, said Mr. Aiken needed "to figure out what he's going to be."



Although singing pop staples on "American Idol" earned him his current admirers, he should consider trying something else entirely, Mr. Krim said. He pointed to the example of Kelly Clarkson, the first "American Idol," who tweaked with the style of her big hit from the show, "A Moment Like This."



"Listen to `A Moment Like This' and her new single, and it's a completely different artist," he said. "It's got more punch to it. It's got more attitude. RCA has that same opportunity with Clay. I think it's what they need to do not just follow the template."



Joe Levy, music editor of Rolling Stone, said RCA and Mr. Aiken should be wary of producing songs with big vocals but little personality a frequent mistake when a recording artist can sing almost anything well.



A similar warning goes for Mr. Aiken's public persona. "Clay Aiken has connected because he is cute, but not too cute," Mr. Levy said. "He is a little geeky, which means, for his female fans, there's something approachable about him."



But he does need to add a little edge, and perhaps maturity, to his act, Mr. Levy said. "He's 24 years old and he plays it like he's a teen pop star," the magazine editor said. "He gives safe answers designed to please everyone in the audience and reveal very little."



Even so, he added, Mr. Aiken shows great promise. "He could have connected with an audience if he'd been working the drive-through at Burger King."



Mr. Aiken's path to near-stardom was almost as strange. A native of Raleigh, N.C., Mr. Aiken was one semester shy of becoming a special-education teacher before he auditioned for "American Idol" at the urging of the mother of an autistic child in his charge. "I honestly never imagined myself being in this position," he said. "Having started in church, you never expect something like this."



Mr. Aiken was a surprise finalist on the show, but a commanding voice, dramatic style and some Southern charm earned him an ardent following. He ended up losing to Mr. Studdard by only 0.56 percent of the 24 million votes cast.



Mr. Davis, who is known for finding and developing young artists like Alicia Keys and rejuvenating older musicians like Santana, then quickly signed Mr. Aiken, while Mr. Studdard went to the other label Mr. Davis oversees, J Records.



RCA executives acknowledge that Mr. Aiken is different from the current crop of young stars, like Christina Aguilera, but say the label intends to trust the value of that image and play to the tastes that have already made him popular.



"He's just a good guy who happens to have an unbelievably great voice," said Aaron Borns, marketing director for RCA Records. "We're not going to make him something he's not."



Whatever the genre of his album, the songs will showcase his vocal skill, he said. And the fans, Mr. Borns said, will follow. "A powerful singer the way Clay is he can forge his own way, so to speak," Mr. Borns said.



http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/02/business...dia/02CLAY.html


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post Jun 7th 2003, 9:41 PM


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takemeawayclay
post Jun 7th 2003, 9:42 PM
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kute! thanks 4 sharing! <3


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RefineMe
post Jun 7th 2003, 9:48 PM
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Good article. My only comment to RCA is DON'T TRY TO CHANGE CLAY! He's fine the way he is, and we love him for his unique image, so let him be!


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takemeawayclay
post Jun 7th 2003, 9:51 PM
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woohoo! rock on! i agree w/ u infinity percent! :wink:


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AmericanNProud
post Jun 7th 2003, 9:52 PM
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[quote]Good article. My only comment to RCA is DON'T TRY TO CHANGE CLAY! He's fine the way he is, and we love him for his unique image, so let him be![/quote]

DITTO, RefineMe, I am saying the same thing. Enough with the comparisons, let him be unique and different, that is why we women are salivating - the man is THEE PACKAGE DEAL + a voice from heaven. Now that's something you ain't going to find standing next to you in line at Walmart!


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v-streamer
post Jun 7th 2003, 9:56 PM
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[quote]
Now that's something you ain't going to find standing next to you in line at Walmart!
[/quote]
He's got to shop sometime.

Seriously though, when I opened the business section of the Times and found our Clay, I thought , this boy has really arrived.


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takemeawayclay
post Jun 7th 2003, 9:58 PM
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he's strong and has a good heart, i hope they don't try to change him. i don't think they ever could. if anyone would, that'd be really low.


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Trinity
post Jun 7th 2003, 10:20 PM
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*standing ovation* :mrgreen:


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takemeawayclay
post Jun 7th 2003, 10:27 PM
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ditto!


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v-streamer
post Jun 7th 2003, 10:36 PM
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Does he realize how big he's become. Four months ago, he was just a guy, not even making the cut in his group's week, and now the whole country is at his feet.


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fluffyhnybear
post Jun 7th 2003, 11:53 PM
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i'm so glad the director of RCA records said they're not going to make clay someone he's not! :-D


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starkissed
post Jun 8th 2003, 12:00 AM
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[quote]i'm so glad the director of RCA records said they're not going to make clay someone he's not! :-D[/quote]

It's a huge sigh of relief to hear that! He's basically perfect as is and to try and mold him into "Super Pop Prince, Like OMG!!!111" would take away from what makes him so special <3


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InchWorm
post Jun 8th 2003, 12:06 AM
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Thanks Norbu for posting that info.
I KNEW Clay's fan would keep me up to date.
That's why I come here often.


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bellax2
post Jun 8th 2003, 9:41 AM
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awesome article :-D


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clay is my shoe-whore :-D
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alwaysaiken4clay
post Jun 8th 2003, 10:19 AM
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aw i love that goofy grin and those big ears!
starkissed ur avatar is soo funny! :-D


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coolautismmom
post Jun 8th 2003, 10:34 AM
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[quote]
"He could have connected with an audience if he'd been working the drive-through at Burger King."
[/quote]


Excuse me sir, do I get some shake with those fries?

[quote]
A powerful singer the way Clay is he can forge his own way
[/quote]

They are so right, lets hope they don't forget that either!!!!


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AKEM03
post Jun 8th 2003, 10:56 AM
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I also hope they dont try to change him. Thats why people like him so much now because he doesnt try to be someone hes not. You cant mess with perfection! well at least almost perfection. :-D It is true about the not making songs with big vocals and little personality. I hope he makes songs that show personality with his voice.


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yup
post Jun 8th 2003, 11:00 AM
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[quote]You cant mess with perfection! [/quote]
yes!

i'd say they just listen to clay and let him decide. nothing could go wrong then...


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Sweet Blazin'
post Jun 8th 2003, 12:45 PM
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Great article. I feel relieved they won't try to change him and want to keep the way he is now. It's this Clay we fell in love with, and it's good to know they acknowledge that. :wink:


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auroraskyes
post Jun 8th 2003, 12:59 PM
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Thanks for the article!!! I don't want Clay to change either.

It's almost Tuesday!!!


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