‘Idol’s’ Aiken hits high note with release of debut album

By on October 30, 2003

As the reality TV diehards are fully aware, “American Idol’s” favorite geek-turned-chic runner-up Clay Aiken released his long awaited debut album Oct. 14, a full month before that of his “Idol” pal and winner Ruben Studdard. With full backing from RCA Records and “American Idol” creator Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, Aiken’s “Measure of a Man” is much more than a rehashing of his “Idol” snippets, although fans will remember his “This is the Night” from the final episodes.

The disc opens strong with “Invisible,” and although it sounds initially like a karaoke recording rather than Aiken himself, all is redeemed mid-song, as listeners are treated to tight melodies and those trademark harmonies that made fans shiver during his “American Idol” tenure. Aiken alone is enough for music fans to enjoy, but the accompanying background vocals are too repetitive and far from necessary.

In typical balladeer fashion, track three, “The Way,” beautifully showcases Aiken’s subtle and smooth song delivery. Boasting a writing credit from Latin crooner Enrique Iglesias, “The Way” is sure to be a single from the album sooner or later. It is not until after listening to the entire album, however, that listeners realize how good this song actually is.

“When You Say You Love Me” is a bouncy, uptempo ballad that makes music fans give it a second listen, proving Aiken can hold his own in the pop world. Despite sugar-coated, boy loves girl type lyrics, “When You Say You Love Me” is another single contender off the new release.

All in all, Aiken’s team of writers and producers will be the ones to boost his debut effort to the top of the Billboard charts. In addition to crooner Iglesias penning a track, Aiken enlists Andreas Carlsson, Desmond Child and Steve Morales to help him transition from TV “Idol” to reputable musician.

When compared to past “American Idol” contestants, Aiken blows them out of the water, especially last year’s runner-up Justin Guarini. Guarini’s poor attempt at a career after his television success included his self-titled album “Justin Guarini,” released last June.

Reality television fans can see if the next crop of hopeful musicians from across the country stack up to Aiken or Guarini, when they battle it out on “American Idol 3,” airing beginning in January.

“American Idol” fans of Aiken can catch him on a slew of upcoming television promotional appearances, including the American Music Awards, airing locally on ABC Nov. 16, and as part of FOX’s “American Idol Christmas Special” on Nov. 26. Aiken and his “Idol” counterparts Studdard, Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini are also featured on a holiday release “American Idol Christmas,” currently in stores.

Although Aiken is and always will be best suited as a Broadway performer, his initial effort at pop stardom is noted and equally appreciated.

Clay Aiken’s “Measure of a Man” gets four music notes out of five: I’d recommend it.


About Allison Corneau