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ClayManiacs.com  |  Archive  |  Indepedent Tour 2004  |  column on St. Louis concert/Idol
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Author Topic: column on St. Louis concert/Idol  (Read 1711 times)

Marilyn

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column on St. Louis concert/Idol
« on: March 25, 2010, 12:44:19 AM »
wordsmith1223
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  column on St. Louis concert/Idol
« on: April 03, 2004, 02:02:04 AM » 

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This appeared in a column, County Lines, in the Breese, Ill., Journal, on March 25, 2004, by Lynn Venhaus:

"It all started two summers ago, when my friend Lisa told me about this “American Idol” show on Fox, so I tuned in midway and was immediately hooked on the unique talent show competition. We’d call each other up to say who we were voting for and critique the performances. I voted for Kelly Clarkson and yes, I will admit I gave Justin Guarini a couple phone votes, too, but that was before he got way too full of himself. I thought Tamyra Gray was also going places.
     The show became a phenomenon, and the second season started just a few months later in January 2003. From the get-go, I liked the easy-going big black guy from Alabama with the Luther Vandross vibe and the geeky yet charming kid from North Carolina with an amazing set of pipes, so I voted for Ruben and Clay quite a few Tuesday nights. I was eventually won over by Kimberley Locke, my sister’s favorite, too. On the finale, when Clay hit that last note of his terrific version of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” I was certain he had won, but I wasn’t going to be upset if “The Velvet Teddy Bear” won either. When I tried to vote that evening, I just got busy signals. We all know how it turned out, but it hasn’t hurt Clay to be the runner-up.
    Well, cut to a year later and all three “AI” vets have big careers, hit albums, concert tours, award nominations, national celebrity, and all because the American public embraced them. Since we helped them become stars, we feel like we have a part in their success. They’ve all had makeovers and now have handlers, stylists, and publicists in their entourages, but somehow, they still seem genuine, and grateful. I hope that doesn’t go away. Their talent is undeniable, but they have those unpretentious, fun-loving personalities that are refreshing in today’s edgier, sleazier pop music. Maybe nice guys don’t finish last.
      Feeling like proud aunts, my friend Lisa and I went to the Kelly Clarkson-Clay Aiken concert at Savvis Center in St. Louis Sunday night. I figured the crowd would be a lot of teenage girls and moms, but was surprised to see quite a few dads and teenage guys in the audience, too. My observation is that people really like Kelly but they love Clay. As he moved through the crowd singing “Kyrie” as his opening number, it was shrieking pandemonium by hundreds of teenage girls, just like other teen idols who’ve come before. But let’s hope his career is longer than Leif Garrett and Shawn Cassidy.
     Kelly, the down-home Texas girl with an excellent vocal range, and Clay’s aw-shucks humility attract fans of all ages, and a trio of gray-haired grandmothers in “Aiken #1” T-shirts were several rows over. They were having a blast. Clay’s a natural entertainer, looks like he’s been doing this for years, and I see him Broadway-bound someday. He’s certainly grown in showmanship from his first “American Idol” performances to now, where he can really sell a song and have lots of fun with the crowd. Dare I say it was wholesome, with some surprisingly good choices of music covers by Clay, like Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” James Taylor’s “Carolina on my Mind” and Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” Kelly did a nice job with a Reba McIntyre song whose title escaped me.
      Lisa and I left with our fantasies of being back-up singers – the absolute coolest job in the world – intact.
     (If you want to see Clay perform on TV, he’ll be the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” this Saturday, with “Will & Grace’s” hilarious Megan Mullaly, who plays Karen, as the host. It’s a rerun, and it’s impressive.)
     I think people are surprised to find out how good some of those “American Idol” kids are. They come out of nowhere, from places all across the U.S. Seventy-thousand, mostly disillusioned, young people audition, and it gets down to a dozen, who have to endure rigorous rehearsals, rejection pressures, and life in a fishbowl all the while trying to get America to root for them. Some come out with lives forever changed and capitalize on a lucky break. Fame may not be fleeting for Josh Gracin, the number four guy from last summer (the married Marine), who has a country song on the charts and his country album’s coming out soon. Third runner-up Kimberley Locke’s album’s out this week. Clay’s new single featuring “The Way” and “Solitaire” is climbing the charts. And cute kid RJ Helton, from Season One, has an album out this week, too.
      Now the American public is in the beginning of the third “American Idol” competition, and the judges say this set of 12 finalists is the best yet. Who’s next for their dreams to come true? I’m predicting LaToya London as the winner, but there’s some good folks in George Huff, Jasmine Trias, Jennifer Hudson, Diana DeGarmo, and I even like the big guy, football player Matt Rogers and that goofy Jon Peter Lewis. Will they overshadow the previous winners?
       Hard to say, but it’ll be interesting for the next two months. I’ll get real tired of the product placements, those drawn-out results shows, the bad song choices, Randy saying “dawg” and Ryan Seacrest.
       But a show that makes a media darling out of rejected William “She Bangs” Hung is as fascinating as it was the summer of 2002 when it captivated a nation despite all those boy-band wannabes (EJ, AJ, et al). And most of the time, I agree with Simon, which is kinda scary, but he gives a reality check, sometimes too brutal and blunt, instead of fake praise.
      At least it’s more fun than watching backstabbers and gold-diggers on those other reality shows.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2010, 07:46:45 PM by Marilyn »
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

Marilyn

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Re: column on St. Louis concert/Idol
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2010, 07:49:49 PM »
Sue
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  column on St. Louis concert/Idol
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2004, 12:31:52 PM » 

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Thanks for posting this.  I really enjoyed reading it... well written and says how I feel.
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

Marilyn

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Re: column on St. Louis concert/Idol
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2010, 08:19:11 PM »
wordsmith1223
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  column on St. Louis concert/Idol
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2004, 11:30:57 PM » 

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Thank you, Sue.
Now that I have had two weeks for the concert to sink in, as well as two more weeks of Idol performances, I'd like to add a couple thoughts:
Some people have talked about the sound being way too loud and garbled at the St. Louis concert, and I agree. I just thought it was because I hadn't been to a big-venue concert in a while! But I did think Kelly's set was marred more by the distorted sound -- you couldn't really understand her lyrics -- but you could understand Clay.
He continually amazes me that he has that much power in his voice, and is so expressive and emotional -- he always has just the right interpretation, simply awe-inspiring.
He also looks like he's having the time of his life, and just radiates. You cannot manufacture that spirit, that inner glow that spreads outward to the beaming fans.
I have been very disappointed in the past two weeks' American Idol performances, except for the eternally humble and grateful George Huff.
This group is not raising the bar nor are they showing their personalities. In fact, the best performance of the year has been Clay's triumphant return with "Solitaire," looking every bit the polished pro. How he has grown and improved -- even more to admire by the way he worked hard and conducted his journey.
By this time last year, we were die-hard Clay, Ruben and Kimberley fans. And to think we just had those brief snippets of songs to hang on to each week, looking forward to the vocal surprises we were assured along the way.
FOr the final last year, I convinced a guy friend to watch it, telling him how great Clay was, and so he tuned in for the very first time. He was stunned to find out Clay lost, saying to me, "Clay made that song (Bridge Over Troubled Water") his own!" My thoughts then are the same as they are today. I said: "Ruben has the title but Clay will have the career."
And what a wonderful career path he is on right out of the gate. I'd like to see him record a song for a movie sometime soon.
If he does not get a Grammy nomination for "Solitaire," it will be a grave injustice. It will also show how off-base the music biz is. He has proven the pop-manufacturing machine all wrong. He is strong enough to be who he is without compromise. How unbelievable is that?
It's frustrating for all Clay fans who believe many do not take him seriously as an artist, but in most reviews I've read, there are many who do not want to give him "props," but after hearing him, they begrudgingly admit his special vocal powers and charismatic personality. He is turning the most jaded heads one by one, and that my friends, is a victory.
There are many artists with long, successful careers and militant fan bases that have been looked upon as "uncool" or "unhip" -- such as Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow, even John Denver.
So if radio won't play Clay, it doesn't mean he isn't going to be around long. Does anyone hear Josh Groban on the air? Me neither. Clay's going to be around for a long, long time -- unless he decides to go another path -- because he has the fan base, the groundedness, and the talent to establish himself as here to stay, critics and cynics be darned.
There are only a handful of acts that I've seen numerous times in concert -- Sting, Billy Joel and Crosby Stills and Nash -- but I'll add Clay Aiken to the list. Whenever Clay goes on tour, I'll be there. I look forward to supporting him in my advancing years (I turn 50 this year)!
We are watching something special develop, and it's exciting, isn't it?
It'll be interesting to look back 5, 10, 15 years from now -- heck, even one year.
This is one terrific journey to be a part of -- I feel like I'm watching one of my son's friends make a difference in the world. We all want him to do so well.
Hallelujah!
ALWAYS AND FOREVER-UNCONDITIONALLY!!!

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