Clay as "God" in the aftermath of AI2
I will begin by stating that I am not one of the really crazy ones.
I bought one single.
I did not write the FCC to complain about the results.
I have never written him a fan letter.
I do not intend to throw panties at the concert.
I do not fall over in a dead faint at the mere suggestion that he might have had sex with somebody some time.
I never, repeat never, envisioned Clay with angel wings.
I think Clay's rampant popularity is the result of a rare mixture of ingredients that nobody could have anticipated.
1. Clay is really quite unusually talented. He has a sensational voice. (And yes, he does oversing.) That was not enough by itself to cause this mania.
2. Clay's talent developed in a really noticable way over the course of the show. Near the beginning of the show, his delivery of "Open Arms" was so nervous and overarticulated he actually got voted off and had to be given a second chance. By Sedaka night he was working the stage like a pro. People are greatly intrigued by enormous personal growth in a short period of time.
3. Clay is not just a musician. He's a reality show contestant. Reality shows get their audience by pursuading the audience to buy into the personal stories of their contestants, and Clay came off as unusually exciting because he was a Cinderfella. In the semifinal rounds I'd already developed affection for the cute little geeky one; I thought it would be just real nice if he got to be on the tour and the album and I was hoping he'd make the top ten. I was bowled away by how much more impressive and confident he seemed to be once the competition really got underway, and we all began to wonder if the ugly duckling could become the ultimate swan. He damned near did.
4. There was a strong sense that he was mistreated. Some of Simon's comments were just vicious and wildly off base, especially in the latter stages of the competition. I think his second-place finish to Ruben would have been much more calmly accepted if there had not been the perception that the producers of AI were unfairly attempting to push Ruben as the winner rather than Clay. Simon actually admitted openly to Newsweek that he had deliberately soft-pedaled his comments to Ruben at Final Three. (And it was obvious; Ruben sang exceptionally poorly that night. especially on "If Ever I'm In Your Arms Again" and really deserved to be eliminated.) Possibly a little less blatant bias would have served them better here.
5. He started out looking extremely plain and ended it as the only really cute guy in the cast.
6. Oh, and let's make him apply for the Holy Order of Special Ed Teachers. Now he's ALTRUISTIC, ladies!
So Cinderfella appears out of nowhere, reinvents himself from head to toe, inside and out, improves his delivery, his appearance, his movement, gives us several extremely good performances, endears himself, gives off the (probably *quite* inaccurate!) impression of being a man of innocence, sweetness and light...
And Simon treats him like something that got stuck under his shoe. And then he loses. When he's been leading the entire season. On a night when nobody for either man could navigate the phone lines. And he'd just given what even Simon agreed was a performance good enough to win it for him.
And a bunch of enraged fanatics go into a tailspin to avenge their boy. All those requests to get TITN played - and I made some of those requests - were not so much for TITN. I know the song isn't any good. But runner-ups tend to disappear; if you end up in second place, it is very easy to get written off as no good, and the Clay Nation went into overdrive to get Clay established in the public eye so he would not disappear like every other reality show loser. If his first album goes platinum, they may calm down some. If Invisible does well on the charts, and the DJs are willing to play it, they may calm down some. And in the long haul, I think Clay IS going to have to do some very good albums to keep his career alive. This mania will not and cannot last forever.
Great post, Abrahammy!
Ruben is "Soulful"
Well said, Abrahammy. I agree with most of what you said. I'm not sure how "unusually" talented Clay is and I certainly disagree with your negative assessment of Ruben's performance, but your summation about the reactions of Clay's fans is very well thought out.
I particularly liked your comment about trying to keep Clay's profile high in the media to help launch his career in the outside world (outside AI fans). As a Ruben fan, I am very interested in seeing Ruben get exposure so he can also launch a long-term career beyond the AI fan base. I just heard Ruben will be on the cover Rolling Stone. You can bet I'll buy the issue!
You can also bet that the Ruben fans won't be gushing over Ruben's flashing some skin--I'm not sure the RS photographer will be blowing air around Ru's shirt! Better to focus on those dimples!
Last edited by pillbeam; 07-18-2003 at 01:38 PM.
I WANT CLAYS CD!!!!!!!!!!
I love you claymates! you all said exactly what i felt without me having to type it out!!! I agree with everyone who says that if you dont get it you dont get it! I fell in love with Clay when he sang sugar pie hunny bunch and have been hooked ever since! If you dont get it then why try to figure it out?
"Clay, hands down. He's the most dedicated, he's the most determined, and he's the most deserving. Ruben's got a great voice, but it's not better than Clay's in terms of clarity, power and vocal ability. I mean, he's NEVER been off pitch, EVER." - Josh Gracin
"Clay's my dawg." - Ruben
"Ruben hits me." - Clay
"When your world breaks down and the voices tell you turn around, when your dreams give out I will carry you"- I Will Carry You by Clay Aiken
I think the reason many of us are so attracted to Clay as a performer is because of his attitude which was very good on AI2 (beside his undeniable talent, voice). If he'd had a bad attitude, answering back to some of the bad critiques, I don't think we'd admire him as much.
Please don't put Clay on a pedestal, he's only human. He's bound to have some faults.
abrahammy-- i also agree with most of what you wrote.
i like getting all worked up-- i like feeling a part of "making" someone. it's just a spare-time thing...i have to have millions of things going on or i want to die...or slowly do die...of boredom.
he's just got that X factor, you know...he attracts fanatics, what can we say?
I think Abrahammy put it most eloquently. Mad props! *That* was the kind of response I was looking for - a post that did not discredit any of Clay's achievements but at the same time looked at his success from a relatively objective point of view (i.e. free from emotional bias.)
I have another one to add to abrahammy's wonderful list: Clay is more media-savvy than Ruben. He is very eloquent during interviews, and more attuned than the others, I think, to the power of the 'net. Didn't he often search on the web for AI fansites and fan forums, and read the comments? And, not surprisingly, he's the only one who has mobilized such a large number of fans (most who congregate on the web, anyway) to protest the results of the finale through affirmative action.
I wish people didn't perceive my thread as some sort of covert Clay-bashing thing. Think of it as me trying to understand a pop-culture phenomenon.
Furthermore, just to comment on the rather breezy "If you don't get it, you just don't get" answer which many Claymates seem to like. Well, it's certainly an effective answer (because it prevents me from pushing further), but it's also a lazy one. Often, there's an answer to everything, even if it's not easy perceivable from the surface - and Abrahammy has proved me right. I think the problem many Claymates faced w/ my question is that it's easier to say that Claylove is something undefinable, but harder to break it down into cold, tangible elements - 'cause that kinda ruins the mystique, doesn't it?
Nonetheless, I thank everyone who responded to this thread. Your input is greatly appreciated.
Grisabella - I concede to your point about how musicians don't need to excel on every front, but be just competent. There's a good Chinese saying called "Gan Bai Xia Feng", which is what the losing side of an argument says to the winning side - so I'm going to say it to you now, regarding that point.
"Revelling in our diversity of opinion," indeed. How sweetly the lady puts it.
This thread has received enought traffic and now I'm going to let it be. Feel free to let it die or turn it into a Clay "Love-in" if you want. I must say, everyone who has posted here has shown remarkable aplomb. *I* was fully expecting rotten tomatoes to be thrown, but there were none. I think that now the AI finale controversy has died down, Claymates are a little less defensive towards their idol.
Have a great weekend, everybody! Enjoy the sun!
P.S. Congrats to Clay and Ruben fans, who just recently heard that their idols went platinum.
Last edited by nausicaa; 07-18-2003 at 03:59 PM.
Just joining the chorus of "fantastic post, abrahammy!" I agree with your every word.
I don't think anyone's denying that Ruben has fans, but are his fans as dedicated? I don't think so. Case in point: radio play. TITN and FWOW are pretty much equal in terms of quality, but TITN has done much better on the radio thanks in no small part to Clay's fans obsessively requesting it.
As you say that Clay has his Clayzies, are you also saying the Ruben does not have any Pubens?
Actually, I think that's mainly due to Clay's immense success. A #1 single in four countries and a platinum single in three countries (that I know of) does much to soothe a fanbase reeling from the final vote. I know after he "lost" I feared he would completely disappear ala Guarini, which adds a sense of relief to each success. Hopefully when Clay is in a more secure place his fans will be able to relax even more.
I think that now the AI finale controversy has died down, Claymates are a little less defensive towards their idol.
I hate to nitpick, but only Clay is platinum.
Congrats to Clay and Ruben fans, who just recently heard that their idols went platinum.
I haven't been on this board for quite some time because of all the ridiculously obsessive Claziness, but I felt intrigued when I saw this story. So feel free to hate.
1. abrahammy - I think that you were the first person to actually put down what you were feeling. My only problem with your post was #4 where you go into Simon's supposed "Clay bashing". I actually agreed with Simon on pretty much everything that he said to Clay. I think that Clay's fans took it a little overboard. I think that he does have a very Disney-esque theme park type of voice. Not that that is a bad thing, but it is his type of voice. I can very easily see him singing for a Dinsey movie. I think that he also oversang many times and it was too obvious. But that's my opinion. Many of the Clay fans jumped all over Simon for stating this because they saw it as bashing. i didn't see it that way, but saw it a s more of simply a comment.
2. Clay's single is better than Ruben's. Why is Clay's the only single that is platinum? Well, it's not because of the singing. I actually think that Ruben sings his song better. Unfortunately for him, his song sucks ass. Clay has a simple melodic song that accentuates his strong points. Ruben has a boring song. No one could make a hit out of it. Using that one song as a point of a better performer is ridiculous.
3. my main problem with Clayniacs is that they typically (no all) tend to discredit all other music to emphasize Clay. Many will refuse to buy Ruben singles because they think that it would take away from Clay. For proof, just look at the e-mails sent to the FCC. I was in a bookstore recently and a mother said that her son couldn't buy a Ruben CD because that would hurt Clay. She then bought four Clay singles. It's getting ridiculous.
All right. I'm done now.
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