Album Review: Clay Aiken, “Measure Of A Man” (2003)

Season Two of American Idol is probably my favourite season to date (okay, I’ll admit it- I’ve only seen two episodes of Season Three, but I think it sucked!). There were the hilarious and disillusioned rejects at the beginning of the season, the wonderfully talented, and unfairly booted Frenchie, and best of all, Mr. Clay Aiken.

In my opinion, Aiken was the best American Idol contestant in season two, and I still think he’s been the best contestant. And no, I’m not just saying that because I’m a rabid Claymate (although I do know some insane facts about him…like his given name is Clayton Holmes Grissom, and that he’s allergic to mint and shellfish among other things), but because I really believe that to be true.

Each episode he came on stage and outperformed everyone else there. He had the best voice, the most charisma, and the most talent. And even though I love the Velvet Teddy Bear (winner Ruben Studdard) as well, I have to say I believe Aiken should have won the title of American Idol last year.

So, now that you know the background of my Aiken love (or OCD, Obsessive Clayplusive Disorder, as Claymates would call it), you understand how thrilled I was when his debut album, Measure Of A Man, was released.

I popped the CD in, listened to all twelve tracks, and ended up quite disappointed. Measure Of A Man doesn’t measure up, and it isn’t Aiken’s fault that doesn’t. On the tracks that aren’t overproduced, his voice is amazing, but there’s only a few tracks where we get to hear the voice that made him famous in the first place.

Invisible was the first single off the album. The song is pretty catchy, and a good choice for a first single. I’ll only briefly go over the stalker-ish lyrics (“If I was invisible/Then I would just watch you in your room” and “I wish I could be/A fly on your wall”), because they’ve been discussed in every review already. Overall it’s a cute pop song about liking someone who doesn’t really know you exist.

I Will Carry You is an upbeat, inspirational song about being there for someone. I like this song. It’s got a soft, rock-based melody that sounds really good. Aiken delivers in the vocal department during the chorus, and this song is pretty catchy as well. It would fit in great on a Christian Rock album (which myself and several other Christian Clay fans are hoping he’ll release someday. Please, Clay?!).  The Way was the second single off the album. I have mixed feelings about it. In one way, it’s a bit cheesy (and what can you expect, since Enrique Iglesias is credited as one of the writers?), but in another way, it’s kind of sweet. Musically, it’s just kind of boring. And I really hate the video, so that probably makes me like the song less. I usually skip it.

Ok…time for a rant. When You Say You Love Me probably goes on my list of the Top 20 Most Annoying Songs I’ve Ever Heard. And it’s all because of a line in the second verse: “They say/If you wanna make God laugh/Then tell him all your plans”. Originally I was mad because I didn’t know who “they” are and thought the writers (Darren Hayes & Rick Nowels) just made this “saying” up, because I’d never heard it. Then, after research, I realized it is an actual saying (Jewish, I believe?), but it still made me angry.  What does “God laughing at your plans have” to do with a love song? It’s totally out of place in the song, and completely dumb! Ugh! Is anyone else with me on this? It just makes me mad!

All right…end of rant. Besides the DUMB LYRICS, this song is OK. It has a kind of country feel, and Aiken’s accent is really prominent in this song.

For some reason I think No More Sad Songs is really cool. Aiken gets all “tough” and “take no crap” in this song (much like “I Survived You”, but more on that later), and it’s a change since he’s usually pegged as the “nice guy”. In this song, he’s tired of his girlfriend cheating on him, and he’s had enough. You go, Aiken!

Run To Me is probably one of my favourite songs on the album. It’s the first, and practically only, ballad on the CD. The beginning piano chords are simple, and beautiful, and so is Aiken’s voice. The lyrics in the bridge are probably my favourite as Aiken sings: “How can I be brave enough to say goodbye?/I’d die inside/Without you/Can’t you see it’s hard enough to walk away?/…I’ve been through this to make me strong”…and he sings it with so much passion, it almost makes you want to cry (OK, maybe that’s only me).

I have to admit, I’ve changed my original opinion on Shine. At first I thought it was corny, but I’ve grown to like it. The song is very cheery and bouncy, and is about having confidence in yourself and all that jazz. It’s got a pop/rock feel to it, and Aiken’s vocals are nice in it. I Survived You is another of my favourite tracks. Much like No More Sad Songs, Aiken gets an “attitude” here. He’s survived his ex-girlfriend, and he’s “stronger these days”. The lyrics are a bit more refreshing in this song, and I especially like the lines: “This heart’s been torn in two/Cut and bruised/With too many bitter endings/But I’ll be damned if I have thoughts of you/Rain on my new beginning”.

This Is The Night is the song Aiken recorded after becoming runner-up on American Idol. Most people have heard it, and there’s not much to say about. It’s a soaring, pop ballad about believing in your dreams, and succeeding, and is almost identical to Kelly Clarkson’s Idol song, “A Moment Like This.”

Perfect Day is pretty decent. Aiken sings about his sweetheart, and how as long as she’s around, it’s a perfect day. The chorus is pretty catchy, but overall the song’s not all that memorable.

Title track, Measure Of A Man is an example of the overproduction on this album. It’s as if the producers of the album (mainly Clif Magness), didn’t believe in Aiken’s vocals and added in a plethora of instruments and synthesizers to make up for his “lack of talent”. It’s really a shame, because the live version of this song (which Aiken performed on his Independent Tour with Clarkson), is absolutely stunning. This version is more fast paced and there’s so much production going on that you lose the beauty of Aiken’s voice and the lyrics. It’s really quite sad.

Ok…I like Touch. I know it’s cheesy, and Aiken doesn’t really play off the sex symbol thing well, but it’s still a cool song. It’s upbeat, and sorta sexy…*giggles*… okay it’s not…but Aiken tries.

I love Clay Aiken, but Measure of a Man isn’t what I hoped it’d be.  There are a few shining moments, but most of it is overproduced pop-crap, which seems to be the case with a lot of American Idol albums.   I’m sure things will get better once he gets away from the Idol producers, but until then, I’ll just watch his American Idol performances and forget about most of this album.

Rating: 3_stars.svg
Track List
1. Invisible
2. I Will Carry You
3. The Way
4. When You Say You Love Me
5. No More Sad Songs
6. Run to Me
7. Shine
8. I Survived You
9. This Is the Night
10. Perfect Day
11. Measure of a Man
12. Touch

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbhOVKhwO_4]

*This is a brittpinkie “classic” review. I have edited this review for content and formatting, though retained my original opinion of the product.

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