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Clay Aiken Talks Music, Acting, and Talk

April 2, 2008

Clay Aiken talks music, acting and talk Posted by Lorrie Lynch

I have some disappointing news for all the true Clay Aiken followers out there — the man is going to take some time off. His run in Spamalot comes to an end May 4 and his new album, On My Way Here, comes out May 6. He'll do some album promotion and, yes, he will eventually tour in support of it, but not anytime soon. Because my time with him was limited I did not take all the specific questions I got from you (we got more than 350 posts). So I organized the relevant ones by topics. Here's what he said on:

ACTING: "I enjoy being myself more than I enjoy being somebody else." In other words, he has enjoyed working in Spamalot but he's not looking for another Broadway role, nor is he looking to do movies, as some of you wanted to know. Clay always leaves the door open — so he says that if the right opportunity came along he would look at it — but made clear he is not actively pursuing acting.

TOURING OTHER COUNTRIES: Those of you who want him to come to Australia, Norway, Singapore and more are out of luck. Why? Clay says his record label doesn't release his albums in those places. He is actually surprised he has fans in some the places he does. He laughed and said folks can call the Sony-BMG offices in their region to tell them they want Clay's records released there. Or, "They can spam them like they spam you," he said in a nod to the internet following he has.

TOURING IN GENERAL: "I'm taking a break," Clay said. He knows that you all want to see him again, and acknowledged that there were some press reports that he would tour this summer but "we never said we were planning on touring this summer. Do we plan on touring for this (new) album? Yes. But not this summer." Clay says he hates to be "a bubble-burster" for those of you looking forward to it but, for one thing, "there hasn't been enough time to put (a tour) together."

PRODUCING OTHERS: He knows that those even younger than he have produced the work of other talented people and he admires that but "it's not necessarily a plan."

TALK SHOW: Now, here is something he clearly would like to do. "We put feelers out for this, that or the other...we make known what we think we're interested in doing," Clay says, using We meaning He. And he says they've made it known that talk is something he's interested in doing. But, like Spamalot, he says, sometimes it's a matter of ideas and opportunities coming together at the right time. Bottom line: nothing in the works right now.

NYC vs. N.C.: "NO," he says, when I ask if he would like to relocate to New York permanently. "I prefer New York to a lot of other places. But living here, I don't think I could do. Living here for short spurts of time is fine." He says, "I need my back yard," and then we got into how he had to send his two dogs back to Raleigh because "New York is not a place to be a dog," and how it's never quiet in NYC and rents and mortgages are outrageous and...you get the picture.

THE NEW ALBUM: "I know a lot (of the fans) like to like everything I do," Clay says, but on the new album there will be something everyone won't like, but also something everyone WILL like. A lot of you want Clay to rock out, or as he calls it "do rockin' songs" — and he says on the new album he does — but it's hard for him to find such songs. "I can't find one I'm comfortable with." He was reluctant to pick a favorite or signature song from this album but eventually said the song Something About Us could be it.

MUSIC VS. LYRICS: For Clay, it's all about the words. He says 90 percent of the songs on the new album were chosen for the lyrics: "In some way, on all of those, I connect." But he's not going to tell us how or why he connects to each specific song. Why? "Because you want people to connect for their own reasons." In other words, he doesn't want us reading into each song the possible applications to his life when we should be finding meaning in them for ourselves.

Look for my shorter print piece on Clay in the May 11 issue of the magazine, and you can read about my previous interview with Clay here.

(photo courtesy clayaiken.com)

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Achin' for Some New Aiken: It's On the Way

Coming attractions: Achin' for some new Aiken? It's on the way

By Robert Bianco and Ken Barnes, USA TODAY

Aiken is well on his way to new CD

"I would like to have signature songs," Clay Aiken says, "songs that are identifiable as mine as opposed to 'Clay Aiken sings such-and-such.' " That's why the American Idol Season 2 runner-up conducted an intensive search for songs he could connect with.

"I went through a bunch of songs and found On My Way Here by (OneRepublic's) Ryan Tedder, and it hit me in the gut," he says. "It became the catalyst for the whole album to be lyrically connected — most of the songs relate to lessons I've learned."

On My Way Here became both the title track and lead single for Aiken's album, due May 6 on RCA. The album, produced by Kipper, is Aiken's first collection of new material since his debut, 2003's Measure of a Man, which has sold nearly 3 million copies.

Aiken co-wrote one song on the new album, Lover All Alone. Musically, he promises the new album has "a little bit of something for everyone, from symphonic-type ballads to upbeat, edgy stuff."

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Clay Aiken to Release Brand-New Album, On My Way Here, on May 6th 2008

Clay Aiken to Release Brand-New Album, On My Way Here, on May 6th 2008



NEW YORK, April 4, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- Multi-platinum selling pop

singer Clay Aiken will release his fourth album, On My Way Here, on RCA

Records/19 Entertainment on May 6th, 2008. The collection is the

29-year-old Raleigh, NC, native's first album of original songs since his

2003 chart-topping, double- platinum debut Measure of a Man.

On My Way Here chronicles Aiken's experiences over the past five years,

ascending from popular contestant on the second season of American Idol to

pop superstar. The album's theme came to Aiken when he and his executive

producer Jaymes Foster fell in love with a song written by OneRepublic

frontman Ryan Tedder called "On My Way Here." The message of the lyrics --

how the lessons we learn while growing up shape us into who we become as

adults -- struck a very deep chord with the artist. The title track "On My

Way Here" will be the first radio single from the album to be released

later this month. Additionally the single, "On My Way Here" will premiere

as an "AOL First Listen" on Monday, April 7th.

"I thought if we could find songs that relate to what's gone on in my

life over the past five years and address what I've learned from my

experiences, it would be a great concept for my album," Aiken says. "Since

I got into this business, I've learned so much about myself. I think this

album covers how far I've come, personally and professionally."

The chance to record new material was an opportunity Aiken didn't want

to miss. His previous two albums, 2004's Merry Christmas with Love (which

went platinum within six weeks of its release) and 2006's gold-certified A

Thousand Different Ways, featured 10 cover versions of well-known songs

popularized by Celine Dion, Elton John, and Dolly Parton. Aiken's vocal

performances on songs like "As Long as We're Here," about not waiting until

it's too late to tell someone you love them, and "The Real Me," about being

in the public eye, resonate with the kind of emotion that can only come

from someone who's experienced this firsthand. "Although," Aiken says, "it

was important to me that the songs be interpretable in all kinds of ways.

People should be able to find their own meaning in the lyrics."

On My Way Here will be released just as Aiken finishes up his Broadway

run playing Sir Robin in the Tony Award-winning musical Monty Python's

Spamalot. Since January, Aiken has spent his days in the recording studio

with On My Way Here's Grammy Award-winning British producer Kipper (Sting,

Chris Botti), and his nights onstage in Spamalot. "I guess I'm a glutton

for punishment," he says with a laugh.

For more on Clay Aiken, please visit his official website



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Idol Chatter Blog on usatoday.com

My (Brief) Encounter with Clay

By Ken Barnes

My (brief) encounter with Clay

I usually avoid opportunities to interview Idols and past Idols, because to me the important thing is to stay detached and objective, and sometimes it's hard to stay objective when you've chatted with someone.

But USA TODAY was offered a chance to do an item on Clay's new album, and the label offered to have him talk about it a little. The music reporters were otherwise occupied (crazy busy, actually), so I volunteered, figuring it would be a short chat and my fragile integrity could withstand the experience.

Well, it was a short chat, and Clay couldn't have been more pleasant. We mostly talked about the album (I'll include the item that resulted at the bottom of this post), but I also complimented him on having the most dedicated fans around, to which he responded something along the lines of "Yeah, if you write something bad about me, you'll hear from them," to which I replied something along the lines of "Yes, I've experienced that." He then acknowledged how loyal his fans are and how lucky he is to inspire that loyalty.

Anyway, that was the gist of it. And here's the item:

“I would like to have signature songs,” Clay Aiken says, “songs that are identifiable as mine as opposed to ‘Clay Aiken sings such-and-such.’ ” That’s why the American Idol Season 2 runner-up conducted an intensive search for new songs he could connect with.

“I went through a bunch of songs,” he says, “and found On My Way Here by (OneRepublic leader) Ryan Tedder, and it hit me in the gut. It became the catalyst for the whole album to be lyrically connected — most of the songs relate to lessons I’ve learned.” On My Way Here became not only the title track for Aiken’s new album, due May 6 on RCA, but also the lead single.

The album, produced by Kipper (who has worked with Sting, among others), is Aiken’s first collection of new material since his debut, 2003’s Measure of a Man, which has sold nearly 3 million copies. It was followed by a Christmas album and covers album A Thousand Different Ways.

Aiken co-wrote one song on the new album, Lover All Alone, which first surfaced as an iTunes bonus track for Thousand. Musically, he promises the new album has “a little bit of something for everyone, from symphonic-type ballads to upbeat, edgy stuff.”

Posted on April 04, 2008

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Reality TV Magazine blog

Clay Aiken's CD Explores His Own Journey

Writing by Jennifer_Brown on Friday, 4 April, 2008 at 7:54 am

Looks like the little Clay Aiken we fell in love with during season 2 of American Idol is all grown up now. With more successes under his belt than we can even count, Aiken’s journey has already been long and fruitful. Now he’s using it, and what he’s learned along the way, to inspire the theme of his new CD, On My Way Here.

When Aiken and his executive producer, Jaymes Foster, began searching for music to fill Aiken’s new album, they ran across a song written by OneRepublic’s Ryan “Alias” Tedder. The song, titled On My Way Here, is all about the lessons we learn while growing up and how they shape the adults we become.

The lyrics struck a chord with Aiken, who decided this was the perfect way to describe how he’s felt about his life over the past five years as he’s shot into stardom.

“I thought if we could find songs along those lines, that deal with my life over the past five years and what I’ve learned from my experiences, it would be a great concept for an album,” Aiken says. “Since I got into this business, I’ve learned so much about myself and about life and the world. I’m nowhere near an expert, but this album has taken on the form of addressing how far I’ve come in those five years and how I feel like I’ve found myself.”

Aiken’s fan-base stretches far and wide, as he’s racked up sales of 6-million copies of his three best-selling albums. Aiken’s success even stretches beyond the limits of music, as he’s also hit the New York Times Bestseller list with his Memoir, Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life.

Check back with Reality TV Magazine for an official release date of On My Way Here.

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The Insider Online

New Video! Clay Aiken in NYC

New Video! Clay Aiken in NYC

Posted April 08, 2008 6:00:00 PM

The sexy singer talks about his Planet Hollywood honor and we have his new music!

CLAY AIKEN jokes about having his handprints added to the wall of New York's Planet Hollywood and talks about what he'll miss most about the Big Apple, once his Spamalot run ends.

"I think I'll miss the fact that things are open 24 hours when they're not like that at home," he says. But the down-home Southerner admits he's "looking forward to the quiet, to hearing birds again vs. car horns."

Clay probably won't relax for long. His new album, On My Way Here, drops May 6th! Get a sneak listen of the first single here!

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Spamalot Star Clay Aiken Lends a Hand to Planet Hollywood

Spamalot Star Clay Aiken Lends a Hand to Planet Hollywood

Date: 4/8/2008

Clay Aiken stopped by the Planet Hollywood in Times Square, just around the corner from the Shubert Theatre where he's playing Sir Robin in Spamalot. The American Idol runner-up and pop phenomenon joined the likes of Jack Nicholson and Whitney Houston by preserving his hands for display on the restaurant's wall of fame. The adorable Aiken surprised lunchtime diners who looked on as he plunged hands-first into the cement. And need we mention the throngs of so-called "Claymates" who follow the pop star... oh, everywhere?

Photos by Bruce Glikas/Broadway.com

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OK Magazine!

Clay Aiken: I Haven't Watched Idol in Four Years!

April 10, 2008

Clay Aiken: "I Haven't Watched Idol in Four Years"

One-time American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken has found his niche now that he’s playing Sir Robin in the Tony-winning musical Monty Python’s Spamalot.

“It’s very much a small tight-knit community and it’s very much a family backstage at the show,” he tells OK! during the Planet Hollywood Handprint Ceremony to commemorate his accomplishments. “People get along very well, and that’s different from a lot of things that I’ve done in the past.”

Though none of the American Idol judges have been able to see his performance because they’re not allowed to travel while the show is taping, Clay certainly acknowledges that the show made him the star he is today.

“Being able to make a career out of something that used to be a hobby is a big difference,” the former special education teacher says.

Still, the season two runner-up doesn’t tune in to root for his favorites. “I haven’t watched it in four years,” he admits.

Indeed, the 29-year-old singer has been too busy focusing on his own career. “I don’t have any free time,” he says. This busy bee has sold six million copies of his first three albums, and is readying his fourth, On My Way Here, for release May 6.

In the meantime, the North Carolina native is doing his best to adjust to life in NYC.

“I’ve had to live without my dogs because it’s really not a dog city,” he tells OK!. “I had them when I was up here for awhile, and one of them couldn’t really handle it so he went back and the other one was really lonely so I sent her back to be with him. I guess that’s the only real adjustment. I’ve stayed really busy, and I’ve been to New York a number of times so I’m really used to the cab situation and getting around. There’s not really an adjustment, except for never having any quiet whatsoever.”

Catch Clay in Monty Python’s Spamalot at the Shubert Theater through May 4.

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Clay Aiken: On My Way Here

Clay Aiken - "On My Way Here"

About.com Rating : 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

By Bill Lamb, About.com

Filed In:Top 40 and Pop Reviews

Clay Aiken - On My Way Here

Courtesy RCA Records

The Bottom Line

The title song and first single from Clay Aiken's upcoming album is not likely to get him back on mainstream pop radio. However, the lush arrangement and his vocals that flow like honey could spell an adult contemporary smash. Trite lyrics threaten to sink the recording, but Aiken's vocals here will remind many listeners why he charmed TV viewers enough to just miss being an American Idol champion.


Clay Aiken's warm, polished vocals

Lush strings and keyboard production


Lyrical cliches


Written by Ryan Tedder, Hunter Davis, and Chris Faulk

Produced by Kipper

Released April 2008 by RCA Records

Guide Review - Clay Aiken - "On My Way Here"

Enlisting Ryan Tedder as the lead name in writing the song Clay Aiken hopes will bring him back to the widespread attention of pop listeners is a good move. Tedder's group OneRepublic have proven their staying power with their own top 10 hit "Stop and Stare" following the band's monster debut with Timbaland, "Apologize." Ryan Tedder is also a co-writer of Leona Lewis' #1 smash "Bleeding Love." Musically, "On My Way Here" maintains the Ryan Tedder touch filled with big strings and keyboards in a production that stops just south of a Broadway sound.

Lyrically, the song attempts to sound autobiographical. However, cliched lines about faith conquering fear, trying and failing, and being loved and lied to threaten to sink the project. Fortunately, Clay Aiken sings the words with such conviction it's rather easy to ignore the weakenesses.

Clay Aiken fans will be quite happy with this recording. It showcases the natural, polished warmth of his voice. It's not too difficult to imagine this could be a track he might have chosen to sing on American Idol. Unfortunately, it's difficult to imagine the extremely lush production on current top 40 radio in the US. A niche at adult contemporary, alongside fellow AI alum Kimberley Locke, is much more likely.

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Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken

Now starring on Broadway’s Spamalot, Clay Aiken answers five questions exclusively for CosmoGIRL! at Planet Hollywood about what it’s been like performing in the hit comedy!


It was completely tiring and exhausting. I'd come home every night and I'd lay on the hardwood floor because it was cool and it'd be something to kind of relax to — probably one of the hardest things that I've ever done in my life was just trying to learn the show.


Broadway is harder because I don't dance. And all that I did when I was preparing for the role was learn dances and the choreography and the staging. When I'm preparing for my own show, I'm learning a song and then when I'm singing a song I can sit down while I'm doing that. But this, you're constantly moving and jumping and bouncing — it was far more exhausting than learning my own concert!


I would probably be exactly like my character, Sir Robin, because he's afraid of everything. Yet he doesn't want anyone to know that he's afraid of everything. I'm always trying to not let on that I'm scared when I definitely am.


Probably when I was on American Idol and being critiqued on national TV by people who are less than nice. But I think everyone needs a little bit of nervousness. If you're not afraid of anything, I don't think you do as well. I think some nervousness is good for you.


I don't have any desires to get either one, to be completely honest. If you think about it, there are plenty of people who are considered the best actors or performers of our time who never won an Academy Award, never won a Grammy, never won a Tony. So I don't think awards are necessarily something that I aspire to so much as just doing what I enjoy doing.

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Clay Aiken Spams a Lot

FRI APRIL 18 2008, 7:00AM


Red Carpet Confidential Blog, by Valerie Nome

Clay Aiken challenges me to a trivia game he’s reading off the menu when we meet upstairs at Planet Hollywood in Times Square. (Help! I only had a free movie pass from 2005-2007.)

He’s moments away from getting his handprints to celebrate his role in Monty Python’s Spamalot when he admits this is his first time in the eatery.

“I’ve never been before, but is that Spamalot on the TV now? Look at that! It’s very busy. It’s a very excitable place. There’s a lot of memorabilia that I’ve never seen before. I didn’t really know the importance of it, but now that I see everything else they have hanging here, it’s an interesting honor to have my hands put beside some much bigger names than mine.”

The North Carolina native, 29, is in work mode now that he’s wrapping up his run in the Tony-award winning musical May 4. His fourth album, On My Way Here, will be released two days later on May 6.

Poor Clay. He tells me he hasn’t had any free time to enjoy life in NYC, and he shakes his head “no” when asked about his plans to vacation this summer. (He also squelches a roundup question about Madonna.)

Since Spamalot is the topic du jour, why did this American Idol finalist have to have this role?

“Well, the reason we chose to do this show is because it was so different from any other Broadway show out there,” he tells me. “It’s silly, it’s more about acting than it is about singing, it’s about pushing me out of my comfort zone. That’s what made it exciting.”

How does he compare to his zany character Sir Robin?

“Oh gosh. Hm. Probably in more ways than I care to admit. I’m very timid in a lot of situations. I don’t think I’m quite as dumb as he is, and I’ve never soiled my own pants, but [coughs] I’m timid in some ways but the character of Robin is very cartoonish in general. All of them are.”

Moments after we chat, Clay sticks his hands in wet concrete. With mouth agape, he poses for photos with sticky residue on his hands.

“I’m blind!” he exclaims after flashes pop. “Am I going to fall?” he says, as he stumbles into the Spamalot sign.

Should he tumble, hundreds of Claymates are clamoring to catch him — including one former OK! staffer who stepped out to greet him during her lunch hour.

Clay is grateful for the love of his fans.

“They’ve been very supportive. Some of them have been many times, and still laugh at it every single time.”

Catch Clay in Monty Python’s Spamalot, which takes place at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre now through May 4.

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Sleepy But Smooth: A Review Clay Aiken's New CD, On My Way Here...

Sleepy But Smooth: A Review of Clay Aiken’s New CD, On My Way Here…

April 22, 2008 02:28:44 by Jennifer_Brown

Having grown up and branched out, American Idol’s superstar runner-up Clay Aiken has been hanging out in the recording studio again, and his new CD, On My Way Here, is set to hit stores May 6th.

So what can listeners expect out of their velvet-voiced Idol baby? Clay definitely had something to say in this CD. He’s taken some heat for turning out some cliche lyrics; and indeed the theme of growing up, finding himself and finding his way is pretty in-your-face. It’s empowering, yes, but is very… mature. Doubtless Clay’s devotees in the adult contemporary crowd will rejoice with each song; but it’s doubtful he’s going to make much of a splash with the younger crowds based on this music.

This is not to say the music is bad. How could it be? Clay’s voice is richer and fuller than ever and all but flawless. Tracks like Sacrificial Love and Lover All Alone practically cradle the listener and others, such as Something About Us, are just screaming to be background music for a romantic date. And, yeah, the whole album is good for a sleepy afternoon in (think good book, sangria, hammock, and Clay’s pipes in the background… yeah, baby!).

If you’re looking for a real toe-tapper, you’re not going to find it here (Falling and Weight of the World try valiantly, but neither really gets there) . But Clay Aiken fans probably already know that and aren’t looking for something to dance to anyway. If you’re out for a buttery voice and a great message (who cares if it’s cliche?!) that will leave you feeling relaxed and empowered, Clay will not leave you disappointed.

Regardless, it’s easy to see how Clay made it so far in the American Idol competition. And his continued success is a definite argument against those who say the show can’t turn out a real talent.

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Multi-Platinum Artist Clay Aiken to Make QVC® Debut

Multi-Platinum Artist Clay Aiken to Make QVC® Debut

QVC to Offer Specially Packaged Version of Aiken's On My Way Here with

Bonus CD/DVD

WEST CHESTER, Pa., April 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Clay Aiken has been

capturing the hearts of music fans everywhere since he shot to pop

superstardom nearly five years ago. Since then, Aiken has sold more than

six million CDs, authored a best-selling biography, performed on Broadway

and has left fans "Aiken" for more. The multi-platinum artist will once

again be exciting fans when he makes his QVC debut on Monday, April 28 at 7

PM (ET).

Scheduled to appear on QVC's QSessions Live, Aiken is scheduled to

perform songs from his much-anticipated new album On My Way Here, giving

viewers exclusive insight into the inspiration behind the album. QVC

shoppers will also have the opportunity to order On My Way Here, with a

bonus CD/DVD created especially for QVC, eight days before its scheduled


"We are excited to offer our viewers this specially packaged CD, with a

bonus CD/DVD that is only available through QVC," said Rich Yoegel,

director of merchandising for QVC. "Fans will love that in addition to

being able to order this one-of-a-kind release before street date, they can

watch Clay Aiken perform live."

On My Way Here is Aiken's first collection of original material since

his 2003 double-platinum, break-out album Measure of a Man. In 2004, the

pop star released Merry Christmas with Love, a Christmas CD featuring

classic holiday favorites, and two years later he followed up with A

Thousand Different Ways, a cover CD featuring his version of Top 40

ballads. Most recently, he's been performing nightly in the Broadway hit

Monty Python's Spamalot in New York.

"Starting my career on national, live television, it seems fitting to

be unveiling my new album live on QVC," said Aiken. "To be able to connect

with QVC's viewers and broadcast my performance to over 93 million

households is an amazing opportunity."

Clay Aiken's On My Way Here with Bonus Five Track CD/ DVD will be

available through QVC at 800.345.1515 or http://www.QVC.com while supplies


About QVC

QVC, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation

attributed to the Liberty Interactive Group (Nasdaq: LINTA), is one of the

largest multimedia retailers in the world, with annual revenue of more than

$7 billion. QVC is committed to providing customers with thousands of the

most innovative and contemporary beauty, fashion, jewelry and home

products. Its programming is distributed to more than 166 million homes

worldwide. The company's website, QVC.com, is ranked among the top general

merchant Internet sites. With subsidiaries in the United Kingdom, Germany

and Japan, West Chester, PA-based QVC has shipped more than a billion

packages in its 20-year history.


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Post Rock: Six Questions For...Clay Aiken

Posted at 11:14 PM ET, 04/23/2008

Six Questions For ... Clay Aiken

The 2003 "American Idol" also-ran and author and Broadway star, etc., has a new album coming out on May 6. It's called "On My Way Here." It's also the name of Aiken's new single. The singer called during a visit to his hometown of Raleigh, N.C.

In your new single, you sing that your "address has changed almost every year." Why don't you settle down and anchor yourself somewhere? Or is that lyric just a metaphor?

I didn't write the song, so I have to interpret it metaphorically. I have moved a lot ... but it's more about changing scenery, changing things in your life and trying to grow personally and professionally.

So it's not that you keep moving because you're afraid that your loony fans might bother you at home?

(Laughs.) No, no, they found me already. They know where I live. You can't beat 'em.

Seriously, though: Some of your fans seem kinda crazy. Do any of them freak you out?

There are very few who do. Most of them are just enthusiastic. I'd say maybe less than a half-percent of them are just woah! But then again, I probably scare some people, too. (Laughs.)

You've been playing Sir Robin in "Monty Python's Spamalot." How does the theater stage compare to the concert stage?

When I'm on stage in concert, it's usually my show and I can do what I want to do. I can't do that in "Spamalot." You have to stick to the script. You have to stand in the right place. But the biggest challenge for me was really having the fourth wall and not being permitted to break it down. We break it and respond to the audience and acknowledge their presence once or twice in the show, but not consistently. It's strange. When I'm in concert, I talk to the audience a lot, I make eye contact with people, and you can't do that here.

When you read for the show and had to show off a British accent, did you just channel Simon Cowell?

Everyone with the show is British, and many of the people I work with are British, like my manager. So [he slips into a British accent] actually, I just talk like him. I didn't have much trouble at all, do you know what I mean?

Do you still watch "American Idol"?

I have not watched in three years now, since I saw Carrie Underwood win. I've been so busy, but the show is also a little different now. When Kelly was on, when Ruben and Fantasia and I were on, it was kids next door who didn't have a chance to get a contract. Maybe Kelly would have, but Ruben and I were kind of outcast-y. I was a special-ed teacher. Ruben sang in clubs in Birmingham. Kim Locke was a lawyer. Fantasia sang in church. It was more organic, I guess. Now, my understanding is that a lot of them are coming up from having contracts already. They're pretty successful people already. And hey, if you have the talent - do it. Great. But I think one of the special things about the show was that it gave a chance to people who wouldn't have had one. It's different now.

Posted by J. Freedom du Lac


From Clay Aiken, the Same Old Refrain

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts

Thursday, April 24, 2008

From Clay Aiken, the Same Old Refrain

It's been two months since we blew the lid off the simmering Clay Aiken scandal, revealing that the most successful "American Idol" runner-up ever has skipped all but one of the quarterly meetings of the Presidential Committee for People With Intellectual Disabilities since he was appointed in fall 2006. Much scorn was heaped upon our story by the fanatical Claymates community -- but silence from the crooner and his reps.

So we asked our colleague J. Freedom du Lac to confront Aiken during a scheduled Q&A for the Post Rock music blog. Aiken explained he's just so busy :"The last time I had two days off in a row was October. I was on tour throughout the country through Christmas, then I went straight to Mexico for UNICEF. [Then] I went straight to New York for 'Spamalot' . . ." Okay, gotcha. He added that "if there's something I can do remotely, I would've been happy to do it." Well, guess no one told him about the conference-call option.

Aiken also told du Lac that "Idol" has lost its charm, with fewer finalists that possess the oddball "kids next door" quality of Ruben Studdard, Fantasia and himself. "Now, my understanding is that a lot of them are coming up from having contracts already," he said. "It's different now."

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Feet of Clay? Not for Aiken, Who's Proved to Be a Malleable Singer, Broadway Actor

Feet of Clay? Not for Aiken, who's proved to be a malleable singer, Broadway actor

Posted by Mary Colurso -- Birmingham News April 25, 2008 12:56 AM

Categories: City Scene, Columns, Idol, Music

The conversation starts with a subject that might be considered trivial, but is of great interest to Clay Aiken's fans.

His hair.

You can see it on the cover of Aiken's next CD, "On My Way Here," and in his most recent publicity photos. The color catches the light and shimmers with golden highlights.

And why not? The singer's geek-to-chic transformation was part of the reason he did so well on the 2003 season of "American Idol," coming in a close second to Birmingham's Ruben Studdard.

Most of the credit should go to Aiken's voice, of course -- the way his clean, clear tenor flowed through pop hits such as "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Looks and personality do matter, however.

In the five years since he graduated from reality TV, Aiken has developed his balladeer voice through recordings, concerts and TV appearances. At the same time, he has polished his wholesome-yet-trendy style.

So, the hair. Why go from dark to light, and why now?

"Oh, who knows?" Aiken says, laughing.

But when pressed a little, he graciously considers the question and offers a self-deprecating story. Seems that Aiken had decided to grow out his spiky 'do after "Idol," but had gained weight the first time he tried it and thought his face looked huge.

"So, I thought, let's try it again," he says. "Dark hair made me look old, I thought, and I wanted to get young."

Aiken, 29, jokes that he doesn't even remember his original hair color, anyway. Maybe, he says, he's simply trying to cover up the gray.

That's pretty much how it goes throughout an 11-minute interview. Aiken's at ease, in charge, poking fun at himself and not taking the personal stuff too seriously.

He's on the phone to spread the word about his new disc, which comes out May 6 on the RCA label. But in a series of brief chats with reporters, which are lined up like dominoes that morning, Aiken is willing to deviate from the script.

He's wearing a wig in the role of Sir Robin in "Monty Python's Spamalot," Aiken says, but that's no big deal. He'll leave the Broadway musical on May 4, just in time to promote his CD, and says it wasn't too difficult to develop a British accent for the show.

Aiken demonstrates that accent for a sentence or two, using a low-key murmur with a humorous edge. He doesn't get manic or "Python" silly -- no squawks of "what?" or shouts of "shrubbery!" -- but perhaps he's saving his voice for that night's curtain.

His time in "Spamalot," Aiken says, has been "phenomenal, without question," and has subtly changed his ideas about performing.

"Did I know how to be on stage? Sure. But this gives you a whole different perspective," he says. "It's just been a different experience for me. I'm sure I'll be slightly sentimental in a couple of weeks, when I have to leave. But I won't cry."

Aiken, after all, is likely to step right into a media blitz for "On My Way Here." It's his first album of freshly minted songs since 2003's "Measure of a Man" -- he released a Christmas CD and a covers disc in the meantime -- and Aiken says he selected its 12 tracks carefully.

They include "Ashes," "The Real Me," "As Long as We're Here," "Everything I Don't Need" and the title song, chosen as the initial single.

"I listened to the lyrics first," Aiken says. "Of course, I was looking for a good melody, not some kind of artsy thing I couldn't sing. But the lyrics had to be great. This time, I was much more aware of them."

For "Measure of a Man," Aiken says, producers tried to "fit a square peg in a round hole." They chose material for a radio niche and asked him to fit his voice and talents to it. That CD went double platinum, but its commercial success didn't bring him real artistic satisfaction.

"If I hear the term 'radio-friendly' one more time, I'm going to scream," Aiken says. "I did that on my first album, to my detriment."

Songs feel right to him, Aiken says, "when you don't have to think about it, when you don't have to try. It's organic and easy. You don't need to stretch."

He and executive producer Jaymes Foster convinced RCA to accept one simple goal, Aiken says: "To find songs I could do beautifully and do well."

No oldies. No dance tunes. No R&B crossover.

"Let's face it," he says. "I'm not right for something like 'SexyBack.' For Justin Timberlake, OK. For Clay Aiken, no."

Picture of Clay from the latest album promo, with the following caption:

Clay Aiken got comfortable with a flatiron on "American Idol." These days, he says, being adventurous with his hair is a given.His newly blond hair, to be exact.

And a picture of Clay and Ruben together, with this caption:

Clay Aiken noticed a difference in his vocals after just 13 weeks on "American Idol" in 2003. "I think they should have the final two sing the first song they ever sang on the show," he says. "For me, that would be 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me.' I forget what Ruben (Studdard) sang; I think it was 'Baby, I Need Your Lovin.'"
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6 Questions with Clay Aiken

May 03, 2008


During its six previous seasons, TV juggernaut "American Idol" has launched countless music careers—but the caveat is maintaining staying power. Season-two runner-up Clay Aiken continues to trump the odds. His third RCA album, "On My Way Here," due May 6, follows his 2003 double-platinum debut, "Measure of a Man"; 2004's platinum "Merry Christmas With Love"; and 2006 gold covers album "A Thousand Different Ways." In May, he'll wrap a five-month Broadway stint in the Tony Award-lauded musical comedy "Spamalot."

On the new album, his first of original material since "Measure," Aiken worked with Grammy Award-winning producer Kipper (Sting, Chris Botti). The singer talks about the road ahead and his journey to this point.

You call "On My Way Here" a thematic reflection on life lessons, a sort of road map of your last five years. What do you hope listeners will take from the collection?

When [executive producer] Jaymes Foster and I came across the song "On My Way Here," written by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, I really connected to it lyrically. It sums up how the experiences we go through make us who we are. As I'm knocking on the door to 30—and it's knocking hard—this decade has been about figuring out who I am. That set the tone for the album; they're all about things I've learned or universal lessons.

Once we had that road map and knew what we were looking for, the songs started falling in our laps. In the past, I'd sing about dog food and sunshine, as long as it was catchy and had a great melody, so it's the first time I've paid close attention to lyrics. I'm not Alicia Keys or Norah Jones when it comes to artistic lyrics, but I like what these songs are saying—and they're still pretty.

Knowing that we probably weren't going to get radio made the process even easier, so we just made an album that is me—songs written for me or whose meaning I connected with, and songs that I sing well.

"The Real Me" was written by Natalie Grant, who comes from the Christian world but is popular at AC. Her songs tend to explore life's challenges and offer a positive spin.

We first looked at that song as one of four originals on the last album. The thing I love so much about "The Real Me" is that when I listened to it, I thought, "It's about God." Jaymes heard a romantic song. Other people think it's about their mom. Everyone is able to take their own message. Natalie was kind enough to change a little bit of the lyric so that it fits my life even better.

You've managed to achieve success, as you noted, without a lot of radio support. You have 32,000 friends on MySpace. What vehicles are you looking at to help get the word out, particularly in the digital frontier?

The record label surprised me by saying they think this record is radio-friendly. Maybe that came as a result of not trying so hard, but we don't count on it. Look, some people that come from "Idol" are meant for radio—Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry. I think they'd have been successful at some point without the show. I'm a TV star. That's where I came from, so that's where I look to spread the word. I do blog in places and we've got the Web site, but a lot of the digital thing is aimed at teenagers. TV is just as big as digital, and it's always been my best vehicle.

Will you tour again to support the record?

I haven't had two days off since October, so I'm just not going to worry about a tour right now. This time, we're going to let things sit, see how the album does and put it together when and if it's right.

"Spamalot" is pretty silly. Your public persona is not. Why did you choose to make your Broadway debut with this show? And are you funny?

That's pretty much the very reason. We had offers from other shows and I'd looked at doing Broadway for years, but I wanted something totally different. I was drawn to this because it was a way to branch out. And [director] Mike Nichols—who is so talented and another reason I wanted to do "Spamalot"—made it pretty clear to me at the start: "Clay is not funny. The script is funny." So I play it pretty dry and it seems to have worked. I've had a great time and worked with a lot of really talented people, who have become my family in New York.

You probably knew this was coming: Even though you're onstage at night, have you caught any of this season's "American Idol"?

I watched the season with Carrie Underwood, but I haven't seen a lot of the show since. Listen, I am emphatic that I will always be appreciative of "Idol"—it gave me this opportunity, I know that—but I kind of equate it to high school. Just because I went to high school doesn't mean I still go back to watch the team's football games.

Reuters picked up this story and it has now be spread to many different markets.

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Clay Aiken

Clay Aiken

Author: Emma Loggins

Date: 2008-04-28


When Clay Aiken and his executive producer Jaymes Foster began the search for songs to record for Aiken's first album of original material since his 2003 chart-topping debut Measure of A Man, they both fell in love with a song written by OneRepublic frontman Ryan "Alias" Tedder called "On My Way Here." The message of the lyrics - how the lessons we learn while growing up shape us into who we become as adults - struck such a deep chord with Aiken that it wound up inspiring the theme (and title) of his new collection.

"I thought if we could find songs along those lines, that deal with my life over the past five years and what I've learned from my experiences, it would be a great concept for an album," Aiken says. "Since I got into this business, I've learned so much about myself and about life and the world. I'm nowhere near an expert, but this album has taken on the form of addressing how far I've come in those five years and how I feel like I've found myself."

As Aiken's millions of devoted fans around the world already know, it's been a whirlwind journey. We had the honor of sitting down with the multi-talented artist to talk about his upcoming album, the future tour, Spamalot, his ever-changing hair, and so much more! He's the most charming star we've interviewed to date. Here's what he had to say:

I think the #1 question everyone wants to know is when is the tour?

I don't have an answer for that actually. I have no idea. We were going to take some time off, and we haven't started planning one. I'm sure we will do it, we just don't know when as of now.

Do you have a favorite song on the new album?

No, I couldn't pick one. I mean this is the first album where everything is handpicked by myself and my executive producer, so we have reasons we liked every song. There's an eclectic mix, there's some variety in it without question, and that makes many of them favorites for different reasons.

Do you have any plans to do videos for any of the songs on the new album?

We probably won't do any videos to be honest with you. Videos are for MTV and they don't really play those anymore. When is the last time you saw a full music video?

That's true.

So it's $300,000 for something that is never going to get used and if it does get used, it's only going to be about 30 seconds of it... TRL only shows like 30 seconds. So videos don't really serve the same purpose anymore. Who knows? I could eat crow later and make one, but usually videos go along with radio singles which would be "On My Way Here".

Tweaking the relationship between music and lyric in order to nuance a story or evoke a certain image seems like it could be daunting, especially if it's personal or emotional to the artist. So I could see how someone might go over and over a small bit of music until, finally, it merges together and tells the story in just the right way they had conceptualized. Is there a song the new album that presented more of a challenge for you in that way?

Well, there are some songs that aren't as personal. If they're not as personal, you kind of have to act a little bit and imagine more universal themes. There are love songs on the album that are not necessarily things that I am feeling, or feel. So I kind of have to pretend and act a little bit [laughs]. There are some songs that are a little tougher, but when the lyrics are as good as they are, they make it easy for you.

You mentioned in one of the earlier interviews, I'm not sure who it was with, but you mentioned using an "out of tune" piano.

Oh did I? Did I mention that? Who did I say that to?

A sound that you liked that Kipper was able to reproduce for you?

Yeah, I can't believe I said that to someone, but okay. It's true, so I guess I must have.

Your fans want to know what song uses that as accompaniment?

Well I'm not going to tell them. Let them figure it out. It is true, it's in at least one, it might actually be in two, but it's in at least one. Let them guess! I can't believe I told that... I do love that sound. We decided to get an upright piano, and do it that way, and when I heard it I was like," HOLY CRAP! That's it!"

So it's in there. Let's see how good their ears are [laughs]!

You've mentioned in previous interviews that the track "As Long As We're Here" was influenced by your experiences in Indonesia. In addition to the connection with the lyrics, did the music of the region influence the way that you and Kipper approached the song?

No, no, no. It's all lyrical. The song "As Long As We're Here" we put on there for many, many reasons. It's actually a song I found while I was traveling to Indonesia. It wasn't necessarily influenced by my trip to Indonesia, it was kind of influenced more by the fact that it was a Unicef trip, and what Unicef does throughout the world. Also, the irony behind that song, I found it on my trip to Indonesia, and then brought it back to meet with some executive producers. I walked into this interview with one of them, and she came in and said that she's brought a song that I might like, and it was the same song that I had listened to and picked out of 10,000 songs. Literally, you want to talk about a needle in a haystack! She had brought the same song that I loved, and that's how we started working together. So that song has lots of significance to it. It's the social message song of the album.

You originally said you weren't sure about doing a Broadway show because you couldn't imagine doing the same thing over and over and over again. Now that you have done it for awhile- would you do it again? And if so, is there another play you would like to do?

I won't turn it down, but we're not looking for anything. If the right opportunity comes along, the right part in the right show... I've had a great time doing it, I've really enjoyed it. So if the right thing comes along, then I'd love to, but we're not seeking it out necessarily.

I've seen Spamalot, and I'm a huge fan as well. How do you keep a straight face, especially as the drunken guard Prince Herbert scene?

I don't keep a straight face. Well during the drunken guard scene I do, because I don't think it's funny [laughs]. But honestly, it's because it's not that easy to do. It's not an easy thing for me. I have to think about it constantly. That's the one scene of the show where I still have to think about my lines. Normally, the rest of the play I don't even have to pay attention to my lines, but that's the one scene where I still do have to pay attention, so I don't say the wrong thing. But there are plenty of parts throughout the play where I don't keep a straight face.

Down the line, if the opportunity ever arose would you consider acting on television or perhaps in movies?

Yeah, I would love that. I always like to try new things. That was the reason we decided to do Spamalot. Something to kind of push us out of our comfort zone, so if the right opportunity came along then sure, absolutely.

Are you going to be appearing on American Idol to promote the new album at all?

No I don't think so. I've been in New York and not LA, so I kind of highly doubt that I will. I think they did a little thing on me last Wednesday though.

Five years ago when this whole journey started you once said you didn't quite understand what the big deal was because when you looked in the mirror you still saw you... It seems so much has changed since then so my question is, are you still that same person ?

I still don't understand why people like my ass, I'm sorry [laughs].


No [still laughing] I have no idea.

So do you feel like the same person?

Obviously, I'm a little bit more comfortable with what I do, and some of it's a little old hat... I'm not the same performer; I'm not the same in that way. I think, hopefully, I've grown in some ways. I still don't understand the motivation behind people that are excited and enthusiastic as they are.

Your hair is actually a big conversation topic with your fans! Can we expect any more hair changes from you in the near future?

Who knows? I have absolutely no idea. I just got it cut today, just finished up before we started talking. But yeah, I have no idea. We change it all the time. I get bored, and someone else gets bored and says let's do this. I mean, I think we've gone through all the colors that are possible right now. We won't do green or anything. We could go to my natural hair color, which is probably gray [laughs].

Your fans miss the "Tug."! So I have to ask since we all love it so much, do you intend to use it again?

Oh Lord, no. That has its mark. If I sing that song again, I'll do it again if I'm in the mood. That was actually an accident that happened, it... it became a phenomenon! So when I do it, I do it for the fans and not naturally. We kind of joke around backstage sometimes when I'm about to sing "Invisible", and I'm like, "Oh crap where am I supposed to do that?" I can never remember where it's supposed to be [laughs], so we do it on purpose now. I think that has its place.

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From Clay Aiken's Mouth to Your Ears

From Clay Aiken’s mouth to your ears

By Gary Dinges | Monday, April 28, 2008, 08:27 AM

Picture this: Clay Aiken, in his jammies, getting a haircut and chatting with little ol’ us on the phone from his Raleigh, N.C., home.

Try not to be too jealous, Claymates.

In our brief conversation we learned more about “On My Way Here,” his upcoming CD — and a variety of other things.

“It’s the first time we’ve done new stuff in five years, so I’m excited,” Clay told us. “It’s stuff that’s mine.”

The album’s not out until May 6, but you can hear the title track, in its entirety, right now on Amazon.com. And, if you’re so inclined, you can scoop it up for half price. Not bad at all.

This CD clearly comes straight from Clay’s heart. Each song has a deeply personal meaning for him, but he’s quick to point out they’ll likely mean something entirely different to his many fans out there. And that’s perfectly fine.

Take “The Real Me,” for instance.

“Sometimes I feel like people know who I am because of what they see on TV or what they’ve heard or what they’ve read or this, that and the other … and it’s not really who I am,” he told us.

See, Clay’s a complex guy.

Anyway, many of you were eager to find out if there will be a tour to accompany the CD’s release. Well, we’ve got some good — and bad — news. You’ll get your tour … but it won’t be any time soon. Following the CD’s debut, and the obligatory media tour, he’s looking forward to taking a breather.

“It’ll be the first time I’ve had some time off — two days in a row off — since October, I think,” Clay said.

He’s anxious to chill this summer at his Raleigh home, but he’s “sure we’ll tour eventually.”

So there.

And what about starring in a movie or TV series someday?

“We try to stay open to every single thing, every opportunity that comes along,” he said.

But …

“I’m not seeking out a movie, no”

There you have it, Claymates. We didn’t get to ask every question you lobbed our way, but we darn sure tried. Hear the entire interview — all 10 or so minutes — by clicking here.

Then let us know what you think. We’ll be waiting.

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Clay Aiken Gets Personal! A Sheknows Interview

Clay Aiken gets personal, a SheKnows interview

Claymates rejoyce!

Joel D Amos

Clay Aiken will be returning to the top spots of the album charts when “On My Way Here” is released May 6. That much is a certainty. The American Idol runner up is ready to get first new material to his fans since his 2003 debut, “Measure of a Man” went twice platinum.

In 2006, Aiken released “A Thousand Different Ways,” a record of songs made famous by other people. “On My Way Here” allows Aiken to get his sound out to an audience that has been hungering for original Aiken in five years.

He walked off of the “American Idol” stage during its second season as its runner-up and set the standard for success outside the top spot on the Fox phenomenon.

Since that famed singing competition made him a household name, Aiken has transcended pop to not only conquer the charts, but become the king of Christmas touring and an expert in Monty Python’s regal attitudes and had his hair lighten by just a few shades.

Aiken’s return as pop music performer will have to suffice solely on CD for his fans.

The singer is spending his summer at a North Carolina home he barely knows. This relaxed summer sojourn home is a welcomed one for an artist who has not had a vacation since Ryan Seacrest uttered “You’re ‘American Idol’ is…Ruben Studdard.”

Awaiting a spa treatment in his Manhattan apartment, Aiken had a few moments to talk as he prepared for his nightly turn on the Broadway stage in “Spamalot.” The title track of his latest finds a man who has found learned lessons the most valuable aspect of adding up birthdays.

SheKnows: You’ve had a few records out since the closest “American Idol” vote in its seven seasons, how are your expectations for “On My Way Here” different as opposed to your Christmas album, cover record or the debut CD?

Clay Aiken: I do feel bad saying this, but I’ll admit it anyway. I guess there is an excitement when an album comes out, let me say that. Am I as excited as I was the very first time? No, of course not, the first time you do anything is always more exciting. This time, I have been honestly so busy I’ve had almost no time to think about anything. But you know, every time we get something new in – we just got in the album packaging in – it makes it a little more exciting each time. And when I’m talking to people like yourself about it, that I’ve been able to make a product that is more personal than in the past. That is exciting, you know?

SheKnows: Having people hear this material that you’ve been working so hard on, that part does not change.

Clay Aiken: Oh, no. That’s always thrilling. Even with the last album it was nice because we were mandated to do something that we might not have chosen to do on our own. But I feel we took lemons and made lemonade. (laughs) This time, it’s something that Jaymes Foster and Ryan (Tedder), have thought of as our puppy, our baby from the beginning. It’s very personal.

SheKnows: With this record, having been so long between original material, were there songs that didn’t make the cut that you may revisit later?

Clay Aiken: That’s a very good idea as a matter of fact. I had not thought of that, thank you.

SheKnows: You’re welcome!

Clay Aiken: Hey, don’t ask for credit, (laughs). The songs we didn’t put on the record, it might not be a bad idea to give them a shot later on. We actually found “On My Way Here” and it has such a great message -- experiences in your life that make you who you are. Things people do, see or know that make them grow up, mature. I love this song so much I wanted to make the whole album talk about this concept. I saw a lot of great songs, but they didn’t fit that feel. I suppose there is a real possibility that they could be used later. There were a few songs that we recorded, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t what we were trying to say. They ended up being dumped.

SheKnows: Heading out into the summer season that is famous for touring, you’re releasing an album May 6, millions of fans want to know -- are you hitting the road?

Clay Aiken: We’re not touring actually. I have not had two days off in a row since I don’t know when. I know since September, between the Christmas tour, and then I did a UNICEF trip to Mexico, I came straight from there to New York to do rehearsals for “Spamalot.” I’m in “Spamalot” until May 4 and then I’ll take the fifth off and then from then on we’ll be promoting the new album for a few weeks straight. But after that, I’m going to sit down for a little bit.

SheKnows: Yes, I would think so.

Clay Aiken: I’m going to just sit. To be honest, I haven’t had any time off in the summer in five years. There was the ‘Idol’ tour, and then I toured on my own the next two years straight. The three years after that I have been steadily on the road during the summer. I’m interested in seeing what North Carolina’s like during the summer. I’ve forgotten.

SheKnows: Your foray into Broadway, how did the experience of doing eight shows a week help you in your mind as far as your future as a musician? Is there anything you learned about yourself?

Clay Aiken: There’s the fact I learned I could do more than I thought I could. Without question, it’s been an experience to push me to do things I don’t know how to do. It’s six to one, half-dozen to another when it comes to the schedule of a Broadway tour versus a tour. With a Broadway show, you obviously are doing the same thing eight times a week, every night of the week and twice on the weekends. There’s no stress and the process is always the same. The benefit to it versus tour is I’m in the same place every night. I don’t have to change cities. I get to sleep in a bed every night. There’s no pressure on me so much to make the show. “Spamalot” is not on my shoulders. On tour, the show’s all me. My name’s on the ticket. But, with touring, it’s only four or five shows a week.

SheKnows: What’s it been like for the Southern gentleman in New York City?

Clay Aiken: I didn’t think I would like it as much as I have. Every situation has its pros and cons. I miss hearing birds. I miss having a place for my dogs to run. I ended up having to send them home because they’ve grown up with yards. They didn’t understand the concrete jungle. At the same time, when I get home this summer in North Carolina, I have no doubt in my mind that I will miss the fact the grocery store is open all night literally five steps away from my apartment.

SheKnows: Yes, ah, New York City.

Clay Aiken: I will miss that. I just went to get lunch. Literally it was five minutes there and back -- pros and cons. Yet, I’ve got my house that I’ve lived in for two years and I’ve never spent a summer in it. I’ve never had that privilege. Yes, it will be nice to sit on the patio in the backyard. I’m going to get to spend time being at home.

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Atlanta Journal Constitution/Access Atlanta

Clay Aiken Interview

Access Atlanta > American Idol Buzz > Archives > 2008 > May > 02 > Entry

5/2: Clay Aiken interview, ratings update, song choice

By Rodney Ho | Friday, May 2, 2008, 07:51 AM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Those Clay Aiken fans have been waiting for this since I’ve been teasing it. But his first album of originals since 2003, “On My Way Here” comes out Tuesday. (The Claymate crew will be at Manuel’s Tavern, 602 N. HIghland Ave., Atlanta, at 8;30 p.m. Monday for an album release party.)

Clay is definitely the gabby sort. I had a lengthy list of questions to ask him for my 15 minutes, including several from Clay fans I solicited. But I only got in a handful of my own before the publicist said time was up. We spoke on April 23, a couple of weeks before his final “Spamalot” show on Broadway, which is Sunday.

What’s the coolest part about doing “Spamalot”?

This deal was for 18 weeks. I really thought I was going to hate it by now. [He then compared it to school and how the third quarter is such a drag.] I’m in the third quarter. And I’m not miserable! I’m not! I’m enjoying it. This show is funny. It’s a little different every night. It’s always fresh. At the same time, the people I work with are unreal… I was worried they’d hate me. I came off a reality show! I didn’t pay my dues. i didn’t have to audition. But they’ve been warm and inviting. I’ve been thrilled. I’m not going to say I’ll shed a tear, but I’ll miss it a little bit. I’ll miss the people. I’ve made friends I’ll have for a long time.

What was the toughest part of doing Broadway?

Everything has to be precise. You can’t change anything. But the hardest thing for me the first few weeks was not looking into the audience. I’m so used to playing for the audience and looking at them. At concerts, you have a spotlight on you so you can only see the first two rows. In this show, you can see the first 15 to 20 rows. And for me, it takes energy to be another person. I think I’ve gotten it down.

But it was some work to be able to do that. The reason we did this show versus others because it was work. Most other shows were about singing, no dancing, less acdting. This one was so far out in left field. I had to learn a British accent! It took some training to go from a Southern redneck to proper British!

So do you sing much at all?

It’s comedic. The song that I do is actually a patter song. It’s spoken though they changed it in a couple of places so I sing some notes and do my thing. Still, it was a challenge to do. That’s why we chose it. I wanted to expand myself, something people wouldn’t expect. Maybe that’s why I’m not bored. It’s so different!

I saw you at Chastain last summer and yes, you interacted with the crowd a lot.

I’m constantly doing that. I stop the show to talk to people.

I remember you commenting a lot about the bugs flying around.

Forget bugs. In Asheville. N.C., we had bats! Those are rodents with wings! And the moths were so big, one flew down the tops of one of my background singers. We had a bit of fun with that!

Why has it been so long since you did a full album of originals?

The record label latched on to me doing a Christmas album. It kind of made sense. It worked beautifully for whatever reason. The truth is, we ain’t radio people. Clay Aiken and the radio don’t happen as easily as Kelly Clarkson or Chris Daughtry. They wanted me to do an album with songs they could sell on TV. Radio is like an advertisement for your album. They thought they could sell Clay Aiken songs for commercials. So I did mostly covers. It ended up being a product I liked quite a bit though there was some resistance from the fans. They call me the next Barry Manilow but at least he has his own music. I wanted stuff that was mine whether it gets played on the radio or not. We went at this saying, that’s not a priority. I don’t want to think about doing radio friendly songs.

Look-I’m not top 40. I’m not cool enough to be on there. If you walk into a nightclub and they put on Clay Aiken music, I hope they’ll run out.

How about soft rock stations?

The “lite” stations? We might have a shot there. We are trying to do AC [adult contemporary] stations. I spent five years trying to be a politician. That’s stupid. We obviously have sold enough, I’m able to be comfortable to do what we want to do. We’re fortunate to have people come to concerts without airplay. Let’s do what feels right. That’s really all that matters.

Do you think your first single “On My Way Here” can do well on radio?

The label thinks so. We never tried to find a single. We used to try to do that. We tried and tried. Nothing worked. We do things that are good for me, that sounds believable. If you saw the show the last time, I did a bit of “Sexyback.” It was totally a joke, totally tongue in cheek. If I tried to sing those songs sincerely and put it on the radio, that’d be a caricature. I know that. Give me a cool song. I start singing it, it’s not cool anymore.

What’s different about this vs. your first album?

I used to not care about lyrics. I could have sung about watermelons as long as it’s pretty. This is the first time we looked at lyrics. I wanted every single song to connect with me lyrically. Some of them are songs that don’t necessarily connect with me directly but a majority of people will experience.

We produced a very diverse sounding album. If some of these songs were sung by someone else, they might end up on Q100… Lyrically, it’s all connected.

I have time for one more question. I just saw you on ‘American Idol Rewind,’ the week you did “Grease” in that red leather jacket. Good memory or bad?

[He laughed.] That’s the one week I’ve wiped out of my memory completely! I remembered “To Love Somebody.” That was great! The truth is, the little hip thing I did. [He did a hip thrust during “Grease.”]. That’s a really good connection about what we were just talking about. That was not cool.

About the jacket - we always went shopping with a stylist and we had a budget. We can spend so much money each week. I wanted to wear stuff that looked good but not too edgy. I’m not edgy. You can’t make me look like Justin Timberlake. The stylist kept pushing me. That week, I gave in. I bought this red leather jacket. I had never spent money on clothes. I was really cheap. So I had some money stored. I spent $2,000 on that jacket and wore it. It didn’t work.

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Pop Quiz: Clay Aiken

POP QUIZ: Clay Aiken

Aidin Vaziri

Friday, May 2, 2008

We realize that Clay Aiken is not everyone's favorite "American Idol" runner-up. But the 29-year-old North Carolina native is the only one who sells millions of records, stars in a major Broadway show, gets to sell stuff on QVC, runs a foundation for children with disabilities and inspires fans to make homemade T-shirts that read "Clay shakes my ovaries a thousand different ways." This week, Aiken releases "On My Way Here," his first album of original material since his 2003 double-platinum debut, "Measure of a Man." We spoke to him by phone from New York a few days before he wrapped up his five-month stint in the Tony award-winning musical comedy "Spamalot."

Q: What's it like being blond?

A: You know what's funny to me? That is the biggest thing people want to talk about.

Q: People need to know.

A: You know, why not? My mom is much happier because it's closer to my natural hair color. But, truth be told, I have no idea what my natural hair color is anymore. It's probably all covering gray at this point.

Q: You look so different from how you looked five years ago. Have all the makeovers made you better?

A: I don't think the external stuff has changed me. I'm still about as self-confident as a skunk.

Q: That much?

A: Yeah. I think, in general, doing this job, I've changed in some ways. I'm a little more business savvy. I don't take crap as much as I used to.

Q: Why do so many people hate you?

A: I have no idea why they hate me, and I sure don't have any idea why they love me. I'm completely clueless all the way around. In some ways, I'm sure, to a lot of people I represent that dorky kid in high school and middle school that everybody thought was a loser. And now there are plenty of people in the world who are bitter because that dorky kid became successful and they did not. It's kind of threatening when that nerdy guy you've been making fun of for all those years has somehow become famous.

Q: You've obviously given this some thought.

A: I've been thinking about it for a long time.

Q: Does it make you sad?

A: Ah, I don't care. Whatever. I've been around people who are too cool for me for almost 30 years now. I don't know. I don't think I'm very threatening, but I do threaten the notion that you must be good-looking and athletic and cool in order to be successful. I kind of screwed that up for some people who thought they were going to fly by.

Q: Does this album feel like your real second album, even though it's you're fourth?

A: In a way, it kind of does. Obviously, it's the second album that we've done with original stuff. I've always said the first album was fitting a square peg into a round hole. The songs were picked before they even knew it was going to be me. Now we're putting the square peg in the square hole. I'm definitely square, that's for sure. But at least it fits.

Q: With all the stuff you're doing, are you worried your body is going to give out at some point?

A: I think it already has, are you kidding me? Have you seen the "Spamalot" show? It's killing me. During rehearsals for the show, I really thought I was going to die. There were a few days I would come home to my apartment and lie on the cold floor for like an hour, just because I needed to rest. I've proved to myself that I can do a little more than I thought I could. The truth is that if I were sitting around doing nothing, I would be really miserable. So I don't have any problem working. I would rather work than not.

To hear Clay Aiken's music, go to www.myspace.com/clayaiken.

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On My Way Here

On My Way Here


Producer(s): Kipper, Jaymes Foster

Genre: AC

Label: RCA

In the Broadway show that is Clay Aiken's public life, he is, of course, the leading man. His fourth full-length progresses just like the Original Cast Recording, with character development songs early ("On My Way Here"), beatific love songs in the middle ("Something About Us") and a dénouement of regret and lessons learned ("Lover All Alone"). Aiken, who debuted on the Great White Way this year in "Spamalot," sings like a theater veteran: almost too perfect, with a self-aware showmanship. But that doesn't make pop-rock nuggets like "Ashes" any less catchy, or the ballads—on which Aiken's breathy tenor could break housewife hearts—ring any less true. With big American melodies, stock AC production and general inoffensiveness throughout, this should satisfy his army of self-dubbed Claymates. —Kerri Mason

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Associated Press

Clay Aiken: "I'm Not Trying to Be Justin Timberlake"

Clay Aiken: `I'm not trying to be Justin Timberlake'

By ERIN CARLSON, Associated Press Writer 5 minutes ago

Clay Aiken is realistic about his niche in the musical landscape.

"I'm not cool, you know what I mean? I'm not gonna lie," the good-humored singer told The Associated Press in a recent interview. "I'm not trying to be Justin Timberlake. Thank God we have him, but I'm not him. ... I'm not gonna bring anybody's sexy back."

Aiken embraces his pop-lite sensibility in "On My Way Here," his first album of all-new material in more than four years.

The 29-year-old "American Idol" alum — he placed second to Ruben Studdard in the Fox show's second season — was the first non-winner to release a successful album, "Measure of a Man," which went double platinum in 2003. He followed that up with two cover albums: "Merry Christmas With Love" and "A Thousand Different Ways."

The North Carolina native has racked up more life experience since his "Idol" days, and felt a deep, personal connection to the songs on the disc.

"When I (did) the first album, I ain't been through nothin', you know? ... But now I've gone through some crap, and I've gone through some good things, and I've started thinking, `Oh, wow, I know what that song's saying, I've done that, I've experienced that, that's happened to me,'" he mused in his Southern drawl.

The ballad "The Real Me," about living in the spotlight, hits close to home: "It's amazing how I meet people all the time who think they know me. ... I just did an interview a minute ago with someone (who) said, `You used to be a nanny right? That's so great.' And I was like, nooo!'"

"So many people think I'm just a sweet, happy person all the time," he added, laughing.

Aiken made his Broadway debut as Sir Robin in "Monty Python's Spamalot" in January, and recorded "On My Way Here" in his spare time. Aiken ends his run in the Tony Award-winning musical on May 4.

"Truth is, I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I have," he said. "I really have had a great time, and I've loved the people I've worked with."

Will he return to The Great White Way?

"You know, (if) the right thing came along, absolutely, I'd love to do that again," he said. "But you know what? If the right `anything' came along, I'd be happy to try it."

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Music Review: Clay Aiken's "On My Way Here"

Music review: Clay Aiken's 'On My Way Here'

Glenn Gamboa


May 6, 2008

Clay Aiken has always seemed like the most bewildered of the " American Idol" graduates -- his insta-fame cut with a bit of what-just-happened? caution, his music a hit-or-miss split between what he wants and what he's supposed to want.

Five years later, on his second full album of originals, "On My Way Here" (RCA/19), Aiken is starting to figure it out.

He is at his best when he wraps his big voice around big ballads, usually ones with big messages attached. He maximizes the drama on "As Long as We're Here" to poignant effect, with booming phrases that would make Celine Dion proud, followed by vulnerable questioning that emo leading men would secretly admire. He undersells "Something About Us" like it was a classic Johnny Mathis ballad and fills "The Real Me" with a quavering uncertainty that makes it work.

Aiken turns the title track, written by the omnipresent Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, into one of those ballads that could have been written anytime in the past 30 years or, probably, in the next 30. But when he tries his hand at songs that sound timelier -- the poppy "Falling," a clone of his hit "Invisible," or the Pink-ish "Ashes" -- he starts to lose it.

As much as his record company would want him to be, Aiken isn't a crossover pop star. He's a male Celine Dion, a nerdier Michael Bublé, a new-millennium Barry Manilow, and there's nothing wrong with that. The sooner he embraces that, the better his albums will sound. With "On the Way Here," he's not quite there.

ON MY WAY HERE. Clay Aiken starts a new, less "Idol"-ish journey. In stores today. Grade: B-.
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