Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sex, Sexy and Sex on a Stick

So, I was thinking about sex the other day. No, not that way, I was specifically thinking about sex in music and entertainment. Why is it that so many artists today think sexy has to be about sex? If you have to sell it that hard, maybe you don't have the right product. If you have to announce you're bringing sexy back, what makes you think you had it in the first place?

Now I tend to vote more Democratic than Republican, but when Tipper Gore came out pushing for labels on CDs, even I rolled my eyes a bit. Then I became a parent. Now my teenager swears she barely listens to the lyrics, she just likes to dance to the beat. But have our kids become so desensitized to explicit lyrics that they don't even notice half the song is bleeped out on the radio?

Believe me, I'm no prude. You should see the little dance routine I have when I'm privately listening to Def Leppard's Pour Some Sugar on Me. But, what is sexy about songs like Magic Stick, London Bridge or My Humps? Do any of these songs really create a sensual response in the listener? Or could people be singing a nursery rhyme as long as it is danceable and has a dirty word or two? If American Bandstand was on today, would the typical answer to the “rate the record” question be Its got a good beat and my mom cringes every fourth word? Lyrics? What lyrics?

Clay has managed to create a sensual atmosphere with phrasing, guttural sounds, even anger or other emotions. He has turned a simple microphone stand into a prop in such a way that women have mic stand envy. You can feel the sexy from either audio or the visual. Low notes that vibrate in your chest, passion, high notes that cause his body to arch back into the note are just examples. And of course, there's that “thing you do with your eyes” as Tyra Banks observed when he visited her talk show. Sometimes, it's just walking or singing in tight black pants.

And how do you make anger sexy? Channel it into a song about being wronged and surviving to not only succeed again but to be so confident in yourself that you can sing a big kiss off. Here's one of the best examples of that from Charlotte 2004. Speculation was that Clay was channeling memories of his biological father but I'd like to see it again in 2007 with a big kiss off to RCA.

Of course, Clay can lose himself in the performance and push the envelope from sexy to sex as he did in Pittsburgh in 2005 while dancing with Angela Fisher, one of his background singers.

For some reason, I didn't mind that at all.......

But the bottom line for me is that sexy can be arousing and erotic without being explicit. (It holds true in the movies too. There were a few scenes with Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin in The Big Easy that were extremely erotic because of what they didn't show. ) The reaction to sexy music and performances is personal, while explicit is almost impersonal because it takes away the input of your own imagination and emotion. My reaction to Clay is almost visceral sometimes.

Smart is sexy too in an entertainer. Clay's ability to articulate intelligent responses to current events, politics and music as he did in a 15 minute guest spot on KTLA's morning show last month is one example. His witty but knowledgeable commentary was just as sexy as any guttural moan or that thing he does with his eyes. George Clooney has never looked as sexy to me as he does now that he's started taking political stands.

Funny is sexy too. Whether Clay is telling amusing stories to Jay Leno, goofing around with Jimmy Kimmel or teasing his audience in concert, he manages to exude sexiness with his laugh and his wit.

And sometimes funny is inadvertently sexy as in this little playtime in a 2004 concert in Charlotte, NC.

Smart, funny, handsome. That's more than sexy, that's sex on a stick.

To hear Sex on a Stick-check out his album A Thousand Different Ways. Getting in the holiday mood? you can pre-order a 4 song EP at walmart.com called All is Well as a perfect companion to 2004's Merry Christmas with Love.


For another look at "what is sexy" visit Sexy Is As Sexy Does

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Keep On Keeping On, Clay

Today I was listening to Blues Power by Eric Clapton and when he sang "Bet you didn't think I knew how to rock and roll?" . . . I just thought . . . Montage . . . Clay Aiken.

Usually I write long blogs - but this is really just like a little lagniappe - a little gift from Clay to Clive Davis by way of me.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

How About The Clay Aiken Music Variety Show?

Come on Clay. There's a huge lack of music on the TV and a bigger lack of an entertainer with talent for song, comedy - with a ton of charisma. If anyone can bring back that genre . . . you're the man to do it!

I've been thinking about all the different kinds of music I love. A lot of the music I've come to appreciate was because I had exposure to it when I was young. My parents used to take me to a Broadway show every year for my birthday. My first show was Mr. Wonderful with Sammy Davis Jr. when I was just 6 or 7 - and, oh man, did I fall hard for live theater. But it was the variety shows we watched on television that bring back so many memories. How I learned to appreciate the music my parent's loved. And how they learned to tolerate mine!

I was too young for the first Dinah Shore Show in the early 50s, but I remember the Dinah Shore Chevy Show in the late 50s and early 60's as well as her specials. This video of Dinah with her guest, the fabulous Peggy Lee, really shows how dynamic network television could be. And this is no easy song to pull off -- plus they both look FABULOUS!

My family would watch the Ed Sullivan show together and I can still remember that night I fell in love with George Harrison the first time I saw The Beatles. My American Bandstand memories are really strong -- singing and dancing with my older sister. How hard she tried to teach me the Philadelphia Lindy. And then there was Shindig and Hullabaloo. Wow - how many great pop and rock and roll artists did we get to see from 1964-1966? Here's a rare clip of The Beatles from Shindig when, in 1964, they presented a few shows from London. And look - The Beatles did covers!!!

I adored the Andy Williams Show (1962-1971) where I'd get to hear incredible performers. I remember it was the Andy Williams Show where I first heard the wonderful Brazilian guitarist and composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Now, if you've read some of my other blogs, you know I'm a huge Bobby Darin fan. These two clips are GREAT! The first is also from The Andy Williams Show - with Andy, Bobby and Eddie Fisher performing Do Re Mi from The Sound Of Music. Just listen and watch - the incredible energy, the great singing, the charm - it jumps right off the screen.

PBS is a great place to watch great performers - and this Bobby Darin concert was no different. Recorded before a live audience in March 1973, just nine months before he died from heart failure at 37, the show wasn't aired until many years later -- but it really captures Bobby at the height of his talent.

And, of course, there was the amazing and controversial Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour from 1967-1969, where performers as diverse as The Doors, Glen Campbell and Herman's Hermits took the stage. And . . . the brilliant Pete Seeger, who had been invited to appear on the Smothers' second season premiere to sing his anti-war song, "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy." The censoring of Seeger created a public outcry, causing the network to relent and allow Seeger to reappear on the Comedy Hour later in the season to perform the song.

The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was a fun mix of comedy, music and great Cher costumes. And I adored watching the very funny Flip Wilson Show where Flip mixed in musical guests as diverse as Isaac Hayes, The Temptations, Louis Armstrong and Johnny Cash.

So come on Clay . . . how about some musical variety specials? We know you've got the musical chops.

And we know you can bring the funny.

And what could be bad about looking at that face on a big screen tv every once in a while?

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Hey! I'm Runnin' for Office!"

Yesterday I was watching MSNBC in my office when I saw a pundit from Newsweek and a local politician raving about the junior senator from my state, Barack Obama. It was refreshing, to say the least, after weeks of negative campaign ads, to hear something good about a candidate for a change. Especially from the aforementioned politician, who LOST to Obama in the last primary election. And especially about a candidate who isn’t a candidate...yet.

Barack Obama has certainly come a long way in a relatively short time. One bestselling book, another one just out and sure to reach the same status, a high-profile, and some would say electrifying, appearance at the last Democratic National Convention, well-attended fundraisers, a highly-publicized and successful trip to Africa. If you get an endorsement from the likes of Oprah before you’re even a candidate, that’s pretty significant! I don’t think there’s any denying that he’s a star. But that was obvious to me from the time I met him, more than two years ago...cue flashback music...

Obama was to participate in a live political forum at my television station with the six other Democratic senatorial primary candidates. The broadcast was scheduled for 7:00pm sharp; when that time arrived, all the other candidates were there, but no Obama, who was apparently stuck in traffic. My fellow publicist and I waited apprehensively in the parking lot, although Obama’s photographer, standing there with us, was pretty blasé. "This happens a lot," he assured us.

Suddenly, out of the darkness, we glimpsed a bobbing head at the opposite end of the parking lot -- as it got closer, we could see that it was Obama, running toward us jauntily with a big smile on his face. I don't know where his car was. As he reached us, he asked (not at all out of breath), "Has it started?" Yes, we told him. "Okay,” he replied, “just tell me where to go.” We took off into the building and down the long corridor, two publicists in black and Obama in his impeccable suit, running side by side with his photographer behind, all of us cracking up. As we reached the studio doors, a newspaper photographer jumped out in front of us and got this photo. Just before Obama went in, he stopped, swiped a hand across his brow, grinned and joked, "Hey! I'm runnin' for office!"

Then he strode into the studio, cool as a cucumber (there was a subtle “Ooooh!” from the audience), and took his place at one end of the stage just as the moderator was introducing the first candidate at the other. The participants sitting closest to him, evidently under his spell, pulled out handkerchiefs and mopped his brow, straightened his tie and smoothed out his suit jacket. By the time the camera reached his end of the row, he looked as if he’d been sitting there calmly all along.

Of course he easily overshadowed everybody in the forum that night. And despite the efforts of his aides to move him along, he stayed afterward to talk to some high school students in the audience. I watched him for more than half an hour, patiently answering their questions with no reporters or photographers present.

Later in the campaign, Obama returned to our station for a press conference. Hounded for his reaction to a family scandal attached to his opponent, he refused to go there. “That’s personal,” he said. “I’d rather talk about the issues.” He took the high road. A road most politicians these days couldn’t find with a Rand-McNally atlas, a compass and a personal tour guide.

Will he be President someday? Here’s hoping.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Revisiting The Music Genome Project: Follow The Thousand Different Ways Road

Yeah. A Thousand Different Ways has been added to the Music Genome Project! Now I can set up a new Clay Aiken station and follow the path his new CD sets out for me --discovering new music along the way!

A while back I wrote a blog The Music Genome Project about Pandora.com, which is a website where you can create your own music stations. The foundation is built on The Music Genome Project and the founder, Tim Westergren, talks about how it was created and why:
Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.

I was so excited to find that A Thousand Different Ways has been analyzed and added to the database - so I thought it was time to create a new station for myself and see where Pandora took me this time. Rather than using a song from ATDW, I decided to simply start once again with Clay Aiken. Pandora has a new section called Backstage where you can get additional information about albums, artists and songs. Similar artists listed on Clay's page are: Traveling Willburys; Scissor Sisters; The Samples; Survivor and Marti Pellow. I love the Willburys and have just started listening to some Scissor Sisters. I am familiar with some of The Samples and Survivor but know nothing about Marti Pellow. I'm intrigued by the listing.

When I click on ATDW album - the list for simiilar albums includes: Ta-Dah by Scissor Sisters; Two Lights by Five for Fighting; Alex Lloyd's self-titled album; the Howie Day Live album and Jesse McCartney's Beautiful Soul.

I'm very intrigued to see what Pandora's first suggestion will be for me - so I start my new radio station. First up is Land of A Thousand Words by Scissor Sisters. I click to see why this song and Pandora tells me:

Subtle use of harmony, acoustic rhythm piano, use of string ensemble, mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation and major key tonality.

These are the same elements that are noted when I started my Clay Aiken station. When I check the Backstage area for similar songs – they suggest: Clay Aiken – A Thousand Days; Robbie Williams – Better Man; Five for Fighting – Johnny America; Marti Pellow – Close to you and Jon Bon Jovi – All About Loving You.

I know this Scissor Sisters song - and like it. So I give it a Thumbs Up - so it will incorporate their elements into my station. Next suggestion is Five For Fighting’s The Riddle – I like this as well – so it gets a thumbs up too.

Pandora's next suggestion is Yellow by G4. Not feeling it – something about the lyrics – and the rhythms – so thumbs down. It's really not bad, but I want to see what other direction this station can go in. After all, that's the whole point to Pandora . . . give it your musical tastes and see what happens!

Don’t Want To Miss A ThingAerosmith. Big ballad - but today I like this. Checked to see why Pandora was playing this song and in addition to the elements noted above, they also included the vocal-centric aesthetic. So I gave it a thumbs up and wait for the next song.

Here’s My Song by Nicolai Dunger. I've never heard of him but I really like this song. Pandora makes it easy to download from iTunes – so I do that. I also checked out Amazon.com to find out more about him.
The Swedish music scene has brought the world many great pop acts over the years and has recently been a hotbed for edgy indie rock. But Sweden has not been known for introducing amazing singer-songwriters to the world. Until now. Enter Nicolai Dunger, a former professional soccer player who was discovered by a producer while he sang on a balcony in his hometown and gave up his sports career to pursue his passion for music. We're glad he did, for Nicolai is a tremendous talent whose voice recalls the joyful pastoral soul of vintage Van Morrison and the melancholy crooning of both Tim and Jeff Buckley.

Well – that explains it. Since I’m a huge Van Morrison and Tim and Jeff Buckey fan –as you can see in my previous blog Haunting Voices. Very cool.

Next up -- Clay’s A Thousand Days. Why? Same as the elements above including the vocal-centric aesthetic. Checked Pandora's Backstage for information on the Song and Pandora lists these as the features of the song:

pop rock qualities
a subtle use of vocal harmony
acoustic rhythm piano
use of a string ensemble
mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation
a vocal-centric aesthetic
a clear focus on recording studio production
major key tonality
a dynamic male vocalist
acoustic rhythm guitars
upbeat lyrics

Thumbs up - well naturally.

England Dan and John Ford ColeyWe’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye . Nothing bad – just nothing special. So I gave it a thumbs down just to see where Pandora would take me next. That was to Backstreet Boys and Drowning. I think we’re getting “too romantic” – so I decided to add some more music to the mix. You can do that in Pandora. Just click on I want to add more music. So I put in Lonely No More and Broken Wings by Clay Aiken.

Next up was Tracy’s Song/Only Time Will Tell by Nelson. I've never really listened to them. I kind of liked this. Clicked on Backstage to hear about the Song and it showed similar songs as A Thousand Days by Clay Aiken; Little One by Beck; Love & Regret by Deacon Blue and November Rain by Guns N’ Roses. Interesting grouping – I love Pandora for finding similarities in stuff that is unexpected. Thumbs up.

Creed was next – with Human Clay. Well even with Clay in the title and many of the same elements – I'm not a Creed fan -- just don’t like Scott Stapp’s voice – so thumbs down for me. Sorry Creed-fans.

So from Scott’s grizzly voice Pandora switches to smooth Peter Cetera’s voice – but still – not feeling it. So thumbs down on this one as well.

Next up – The Samples with Sad World. Now this is more my kind of thing. Still many of the same qualities we started with but I really like Sean Kelly’s voice and this is truly touching. Thumbs up for sure. Now we’re cooking.

Marti Pellow and Close To You comes up now. I really like this and when I check the Backstage area – it shows me that A Thousand Different Ways is a similar album to Marti’s Smile. I wanted to buy this from iTunes – but unfortunately, it’s not there. But it goes on my list of albums to check out somewhere else. Smile is from 2001 and was recorded when Marti left Wet Wet Wet (who had the big hit from Four Weddings & A Funeral – Love Is All Around).

Howie Day’s Live album – Collide is next. I can see where Lonely No More’s qualities are kicking into gear with Sad World and now Collide. Thumbs up and I’ve never heard this Live album – so off to iTunes to download this version.

I like where I’m heading now on this Clay Aiken station – next up is U2’s Original of the Species. I never get tired of this so thumbs up. But I’m curious to check the Backstage Song info – sure enough it says:

pop rock qualities
acoustic rhythm piano
use of a string ensemble
mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation
a vocal-centric aesthetic
major key tonality
a dynamic male vocalist
acoustic rhythm guitars

Yup – much in common with Clay Aiken’s A Thousand Days (excluding those damn spinning balls *g*) . . .

How Can I – by Mike and the Mechanics & Paul Carrick. This is new to me but I really like it. I take a trip to iTunes but unfortunately can’t find the song. So I look up the artist in Backstage - Well that’s interesting. . . Under similar artists – Clay Aiken is included along with Deacon Blue and Pet Shop Boys. No wonder I liked this.

David Pack is next with Tomorrow and Forever. Really like this and a trip to iTunes is successful – downloaded this one.

Shelby Lynne is next – and I’m a fan of Shelby’s and I like Wall In Your Heart. Matt Kearney is up next – I love Matt and Nothing Left To Lose is one of my favorite songs – of course it’s already on my iPod and on repeat a lot. I think the Shelby and David Pack moved me into an area where there’s additional elements not in Clay’s stuff. Here’s what’s listed for this particular song:

mellow rock instrumentation
folk influences
a subtle use of vocal harmony
extensive vamping
meandering melodic phrasing
mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation
major key tonality
melodic songwriting
acoustic rhythm guitars
subtle use of acoustic piano
upbeat lyrics

I decide to experiment and add Here You Come Again by Clay Aiken to the mix to see where that takes me.

Barenaked Ladies is where . . . Peterborough and the Karwarthas. I’ve always enjoyed this song. Here’s the backstage elements of this song:

mellow rock instrumentation
a subtle use of vocal harmony
mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation
major key tonality
a breathy male lead vocalist
acoustic rhythm guitars

I guess the HYCA addition gave me the breathy male lead vocalist. Fun!

Tides’ Tell Me comes up next. This is new to me. I like it but unfortunately can’t get it on iTunes. Don’t Let Go with Bryan Adams and Sarah McLachlen – is lovely. Never heard it before. Really liked this duet.

Next up is Five for Fighting with Freedom Never Cries. I love this song – it’s already on my iPod. But I’m curious about the features so I check backstage:

acoustic rock instrumentation
a subtle use of vocal harmony
acoustic rhythm piano
acoustic sonority
use of a string ensemble
major key tonality
acoustic rhythm guitars

Similar songs includes Clay Aiken’s Here You Come Again. Remember they aren’t analyzing actual words in the lyrics for similarity – just the musical elements and yes I can hear what they are hearing.

Well I've been following this path for quite a well and really enjoying myself. But it’s time to stop. My Clay Aiken station will be there for me to pick up on another day. And look at the new artists I discovered - very quickly: Marti Pellow and Nicolai Dunger – and I’ll be downloading more of their stuff for sure. Also found a few songs I never heard before like the Bryan Adams/Sarah McLachlen duet.

All in all, not a bad trip down the Clay Aiken Pandora path. What a fabulous way to discover music. No “too cool for school” critics telling me what I should like. No music suggested by radio play or popularity. Just music that touches my emotions – through the sound and lyrics.

Right now I’ve got 5 radio stations on my account at Pandora. One starts with Eric Clapton as the initial choice. One begins with Danny O’Keefe. Another starts at Peter Cincotti. And the fouth begins with Eric Andersen. I’ve got my blues, jazz, rock, pop and folk paths all taking me in on a road trip – discovering music that’s tailored to my tastes. What a great concept!

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Monday, October 09, 2006

Charm....What is it?

Charm......What is it?

Dictionary.com describes 'charm' as this:

*The power or quality of pleasing or delighting; attractiveness
*a delightful characteristic
*any action supposed to have magical power.
*to delight or please greatly by beauty, attractiveness, etc.; enchant:
*to be fascinating or pleasing.

Someone who charms is a rare thing these days. In fact, it seems to be an old-fashioned word, used to describe something in the past, a lost art, something that in today's modern age, seems strangely out of place. Yet it's the one word that comes to mind whenever I see Clay Aiken on television. I just watched him charm a nation on the Martha Stewart Show this week. Clay appeared in an interview segment, then a cooking segment with his grandmother, baking their 'hot pineapple salad'. His third segment was a performance of "A Thousand Days' from his newly released album, A Thousand Different Ways.

If you decide to try the recipe, make sure you only use ONE can of pineapple and salted butter, not unsalted, as the website calls for. The website is incorrect.

Watch Clay singing 'A Thousand Days' from his appearance on Martha Stewart:

Here is a man who understands how television works, who knows how to play to the camera for maximum effect, yet makes it all seem so real and natural that one can't help but be charmed by his sparkling personality. Clay's combination of natural charm, innate intelligence, and quick wit is a lethal combination that attracts viewers and invites them into his world.

He does this without posturing, without ego, without that macho attitude that some men think is attractive. He charms effortlessly and his self-confidence shines through in a way that is not overpowering, but is very welcoming.

Paula Abdul once said about Clay: You have a quiet confidence that draws people in. I've followed Clay for the past three and a half years and that is the one thing that has never wavered...his quiet acceptance of people, his confidence in who he is, and the way he welcomes everyone into his world, whether it's from the restricted box of television, or on a stage in front of 8,000 people.

I remember a story I once heard about Clay. In December, 2003, he took part in a mini-holiday tour called 'Jingle Balls' sponsered by radio stations which included a mix of performers such as Sean Paul, Michelle Branch, All American Rejects, Simple Plan, and more, a 'nerd amongst the cool kids', so to speak. Yet the story I heard was backstage, everyone, and I mean everyone from the performers to the DJ's, were all crowding around his dressing room because they liked him so much. All part of the Aiken charm.

So I challenge the readers. Leave your comments and let me know who else you think is charming.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Revisiting The Clay Fans the Media Conveniently Forgets

In honor of the absurdity that is the Bernie Alexander article on AskMen.com entitled 5 Things You Didn't Know About Clay Nation - I thought I would buy Bernie a clue. I can afford it . . . I'm a professional woman - with a good paycheck. So Bernie - if you are going to write an article about the Clay Nation - I've got a few things you might want to include. First and foremost, I'd suggest that you don't use gossip sites that have no basis in reality as your resources. How about actually talking to a Clay Aiken fan for information about Clay Aiken fans? Gosh what a concept. Oh, and Bernie - how hard did you have to look to find a picture of Clay that was less than appealing? I've got a better one for your next article.

So - for you Bernie - I'm revisiting an archived blog from May - all about Real Clay Aiken fans and who we are. If you get to the end of this article, Bernie, I'll be happy to go over the list of 5 Things You Got Wrong About The Clay Nation.

Where did the idea that the majority of Clay Aiken fans are conservative Christians, homophobic, miserable, lonely old women come from? Who created this fantasy that fans of Clay only listened to Barry Manilow (or Liberace) and stopped listening to music until American Idol came on the television? How did this nonsense that Clay fans think he’s the next Pat Boone or Perry Como become the mantra of the media? Is it lazy journalism? One reviewer or reporter writes up his misconception and other writers decide that person must be correct? Do these “journalists” actually speak to fans? Do they filter out anything that doesn’t meet that misconception? Could it possibly be something else that contributes? American Idol created a competition and, although the competition is over and many of the contestants have moved on to successful careers – some fans seem to think it’s important to keep the game going. Why do so many people who dislike Clay Aiken bother analyzing his music, his life, and his motives? Why do people actively work against Clay Aiken by pretending to be Clay fans or ex-Clay fans – spreading the extraordinarily inaccurate vision of Clay Aiken fans to anyone who will listen? It’s a mystery why this misconception is repeated over and over. But for any writer who is actually interested in something more accurate . . . a story that isn’t a rehash of the same old-same old . . . you might want to take a look at some real fans of Clay Aiken.

Amazing – but true . . .what I've found is that the Clay fandom is much more diverse than many others. Is the audience predominately women? Yes. Just as it was at the beginning of the career of many popular artists from Elvis, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. What’s extraordinary is the range of ages. I see youngsters, teenagers and young adults at all his concerts. Unfortunately, the insistence of the media that his fan base is a bunch of old ladies - makes it difficult for young girls and especially young men to admit they are fans. Is a large segment of his audience middle-aged? Without a doubt. About the same age as the audience I saw when I attended Eric Clapton’s concert at Madison Square Garden just last year.

What many of these reviewers and writers miss is who these middle-age women were 30 years ago. Contrary to popular media opinion . . . we didn't grow up from a fungus behind the Wal-Mart counter. Many of us were part of the Woodstock generation. Some of us wore flowers in our hair and danced in the mud that glorious summer of 1969. We were part of the sexual revolution in this country. We marched for civil rights, women's rights, gay rights. We worked for equality in the workplace. We organized marches and protests and sit-ins at campuses across the country. And throughout our generation, some of the best music was born. Why do journalists think we suddenly developed lousy taste? Are they so limited in their own knowledge of music that they cannot recognize where we came from? Our generation had the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Our soul music was Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding. Who would have heard of Pink Floyd if it wasn't for us? Or Cream or Blind Faith. Or Led Zeppelin or Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles or Jimi Hendrix. And we didn’t need to listen to only one kind of music to “be cool”. We could mix it up - go from Bob Dylan to Jefferson Airplane to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to the Doors to the Butterfield Blues Band to Donovan to Bruce Springsteen. To dismiss people of our age is to deny the musical and social foundation of our generation.

Were we all hippies and punks and rebels? Of course not. But you’d be surprised how many of us were. What I've found in this fandom is people are drawn to Clay Aiken for all kinds of reasons. And while there are certainly a large number of Christian fans – to leap to an assumption that this means ultra-conservative and homophobic is a leap that is completely unjustified. Extremes exist in every group - but the overriding quality I've found in this fandom is tolerance and generosity. There are many many fans of different religions - or atheist or agnostic - who simply love the voice. There are people who are inspired by his charity and desire to serve . . . but are first and foremost fans of the entertainer. The women (and men) I've met in this fandom are a wonderful representation of the population. . . people whose lives were never empty. They are mothers, daughters, grandparents, fathers and sons, teachers, doctors, secretaries, lawyers, executives, librarians, salespeople, scientists. They didn't turn to Clay to fill an emotional void in their lives - they turned to Clay because he filled a musical need . . . a way to reconnect with a time when music was exciting - when singers had interesting voices, when concerts had energy.

My husband, in his youth, played in a rock and roll band. After he discovered Clay Aiken, he pulled his guitar out and started playing again. When I asked him why he's a fan of Clay's - he said "because Clay makes me feel hopeful". Now -- that's the kind of story I'd like to see the media write.

In honor of age - This blog's quote is: No wise man ever wished to be younger. Jonathan Swift

Oh, and Bernie - here's a brief rundown on your 5 items and the truth behind them.

1. The Clay Nation DID NOT sue anyone. Some anonymous people decided that they wanted to get some press by posting a hoax about Claymates suing the record label. A press release went out days before an anonymous letter was sent to the FTC. Using only first names and no addresses - the FTC was unable to look into the matter - even if they ever thought it had any merit. The fact that no contact information was given is proof enough that no one expected anything to be done. Considering the thousands of Clay fans on the internet - the fact that 9 first names were used to write this bogus complaint should hardly be worth a sentence - much less #1 on The Bernie Alexander List. The fact that a press release was written and sent to the media only shows that a majority of the media is completely unable to participate in rational thinking -- something that shouldn't really be surprising given the amount of nonsense the "media" spews.

2. Clay Nation Made Rush Limbaugh Apologize. Well, probably a few nuts who happen to be Clay Aiken fans contacted Rush Limbaugh. I wouldn't exactly call them Clay Nation -- any more than I consider you and your ridiculous article representative of real men. Surely within a fan base - there are always a few nuts. Here's an example of some at a sporting event - not sure if they are readers of AskMen. What do you think?

3. Clay Nation demanded a bridge be named after Clay - sorry Bernie is this supposed to be something scandalous? There was some joking around with Clay and the Governor and some fans decided to put up a petition. Am I supposed to be horrified at this? Sorry - I'm much more horrified at the price of gas.

4. Clay Nation bombarded his alleged lover with threats. Well at least you used the word "alleged" - but here's a question for you Bernie? Did you ask the police about Mr. Paulus's claims of harrassment? His incessent whining about losing his job because of the big bad Claymates? Or did it just fit your article better to write this crap without seeing if any of it held any merit. Oh and the apology? Did you buy that one as well? Bernie, Bernie, Bernie . . . you're really not a very discerning man are you?

5. Clay Nation planned independent release parties. Oh My God! Did they really do that? Oh My God! That's nuts. That's crazy. That's insane. Thousands of fans from the US, Canada and Asia actually got together to eat, drink and mingle and buy a Clay Aiken CD! I've never heard of anything so scandalous. Really. Those fans should be taken out and shot for doing such an insane thing. Do the fans of Bradley Walker know this? They had a CD Release party for his first CD. Of course, Walker's CD was produced by a Grammy winner, Carl Jackson. Maybe that's why it's not so damn silly as Clay Nation having a party. Jackie Ryan - well she's a jazz vocalist so maybe that's why her CD release party wasn't so silly. Greg Smith too. But I guess in the musical world of jazz - people aren't so condescending about what fans choose to do to celebrate artists they like. Bernie if this is the extent of what you can find to make fun of the Clay Nation - you really had better get moving. I'm just not impressed with your rehashing the same old junk. Next time, try to find something interesting to write about - like maybe Clay Aiken.

Addition: Just found a really great website who's mission is meet the unserved need for innovative, topical, relevant and entertaining programming of particular interest to women - Greenstone Media.

Gloria Steinem was recently interviewed in a phone conference by 10 women bloggers - they talked about the state of broadcasting, women and the conversation missing from the radio. Check it out at Greenstone Radio

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