I'll admit I was an avid viewer of the second season of "American Idol." One of the reasons I watched was the refreshing talent of a shy North Carolina kid named Clay Aiken. He was a bona fide geek, with no clue how to carry himself in front of a national television audience.
After getting bumped off the show, he came back as a wild card and blew America away with his rendition of Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." His tenor voice was flawless, and suddenly he was the favorite to win it all.
Week after week he soared above his competition, winning new fans while continuing to amaze the judges (most of the time). It didn't even matter that he didn't win the whole thing -- that was reserved for Luther Vandross clone Ruben Stoddard -- because Aiken was clearly the best of the rest and would sell millions of albums once he was whisked into a recording studio.
Well that day has come and the result is disappointing. Producer Clive Davis has no clue how to use Aiken's talent as "Measure of a Man" is overproduced and glossy with bad songs.
Aiken's voice is unique, crisp and powerful, none of which come through on this CD. His voice is buried under layers of blended instruments and emerges about as often as the sun on an overcast beach day.
This could be Britney Spears, J-Lo or Christina Aguilera. It could be Kenny G. It's definitely not unique, and it's way too safe. This CD will sell, but unless Aiken takes a stand and has more creative input, his next CD will be readily available in the discount bin at your favorite record store.
What a shame.