Friday, September 28, 2007

This Man

American Idol has been “rewinding” this year. Tribune Entertainment is distributing the episodes of all the seasons, compressed into one hour episodes. New interviews are included and Season 1 ended with a “Where are they now?” retrospective of the first season.

I only caught the last couple of episodes. I recalled how bad Justin Guarini's hair was or how strange his nose looks now. I noticed how much more genuine Kelly Clarkson was then and how she resembles the thinner (via photoshop) Kelly of today. Cool Beans! I did not realize how pretty Niki McKibbon was, dayglo fuchsia hair and all.

The season that etched Idol into the American culture was Season 2 where Ruben Studdard prevailed as the show's winner.

Or as the press release noted

the year that put American Idol on the map with legendary talent and unprecedented ratings

Ruben versus Clay. The Velvet Teddy Bear versus The Vox. The ratings were huge and so was the vote count, given the set up at the time. Much was said about the bigger vote counts for Season 3 and beyond but since Ruben and Clay only had one phone line each as opposed to the three each the finalists get now (not to mention the million of my votes that wouldn't get through), it really did electrify the country. And the two artists who were the most responsible for making that happen remain friends to this day.

Season 2-where I found Clay Aiken and have had my fingerprints almost etched onto a keyboard since then. Clay returns to season 2 as the narrator of the Rewind series, beginning September 29th.

Four and a half years later, the boyish looking guy with the big voice is still a big part of my life. He's changed a lot. Some changes are obvious, such as his physical appearance. He's no longer the too skinny guy. He's filled out with broad shoulders and a fuller face one would expect from a man who will be 30 in a little over a year.

The impression Clay gave was that of a shy, goody-two shoes, awkward kid who could sing. Dance? Not so much. But the real Clay is a loud take charge guy with a quick wit and a little bit of a bawdy, wicked sense of humor. He can move as the music fills his body but choreography is still not his friend.

He's a good man who has made a difference as he sought to do but he's no goody-two shoes. Nor is he a bad boy like some of the pop stars of today. He walks the talk. On the music side and the philanthropic side. He's imperfect but will be the first to admit it. Well, all except his horribly bad habit of forgetting how to blog.

The green eyed spark is still there but the twinkle is joined with a more worldly knowledge and hardness born of enduring tabloid lies and label battles. I like this Clay. I think much more of him was always there. While I'll forever be fond of Idol Clay, I admire this man, this 2007 Clay so much more. He's more open with his fans, he's not taking crap and (thankfully) he is much more comfortable with his sex appeal.

So while Clay belongs on the concert stage and will be returning there in November for this fourth consecutive holiday tour (and his 8th solo tour overall), he also belongs on television.
So he takes us back to Season 2 and the juxtaposition of the manchild and THIS man will be a fitting “bookend” to his AI2 career. To find if your cable system shows Rewind, visit

Many thanks to Invisible926 for the side by side pictures from her collection.

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Invisible926 said...

Very timely blog, Corabeth! I also love and admire the man Clay has become.

Chardonnay said...

Such a well written piece Corabeth! Sometimes I think we all need to be reminded of where we've come from and how far we've gone. Um, I mean him.

I downloaded goldarngirl's montage months ago and loved it!... but not nearly as much as I love it now eight months later. Funny how that happens. Anyway, thanks for sharing it with us again!

Anonymous said...

A well written piece indeed! Clay Aiken had matured. The intelligence, the wit, the kind heart have always been there, but more apparent now.
He will be around for a long long time and we are in for a long long ride in his tractor.

Just a Fan said...

Beautiful. The talented writers in the Clay Aiken fandom,who can put into words what we feel in our hearts,are so appreciated. You are one of them.Thank you