This is Clay Aiken. This is his hot new look. And this is what was intended for his new album, A Thousand Different Ways, out on September 19th that I am totally pumped for and buying. In 2005 he went on tour (because he's a touring whore, and frankly he sounds even better live than in the studio), where he previewed several new songs that were meant for his sophomore mainstream album. Clay fans kick ass at getting almost CD quality recordings via smuggled equipment into concerts, so that's what's here.
Back For More - A great midtempo pop number, laden with lyrical irony and a possible wish about being all over the radio. Probably not with this project, but i've seen wierder things happen. This was probably booted off the album when RCA decided to do a theme of love songs, and opening with the line "not too crazy 'bout love songs" might not fit. It's still a shame, because from what i've seen (this tour went nowhere near Florida...) this really got the audiences pumped up. The beginning guitar and piano are reminicent of "The Reason" by Hoobastank. It's catchy as hell, and I hope it doesn't end up on Taylor Hicks' album or something, because I could see it as a hit for almost anyone.
Tears Run Dry - It's a mid-tempo ballad similar to a lot of the material on his first album, Measure of a Man, but I was all over that shit. Nick Lachey sort of ripped off this song for "What's Left of Me"...not really, because I doubt he ever heard it, but they sound very similar, and with the new form of the album including four original tracks, it likely doesn't make sense for one to sound very much like a recent hit.
Just You - Another ballad, a little slower. There's some unusual vocal change-ups and shifts in the melody that most singers wouldn't be able to handle, but I don't like it as much as the other new tracks he sang. He probably didn't either, because it was the least-performed out of them.
1000 Days - This one did make the album! Some of the lyrics are a bit wierd in this midtempo track, but that can be quite common in pop songs. I didn't love it at first, but it gets stuck in your head after a few listens. Maybe i'm biased and trying to look for it, but I genuinely got that earworm from the hook.
His official site has more info on the new album. I'm not completely in love with the concept, but he'll sing his ass off on it. Maybe "they" don't write pop songs for male singers anymore (suck it, Clive Davis), or maybe they just didn't look hard enough. Ah well. I'm a big fan of innovative pop, but there comes other times when I just like a sweet ballad or mid-tempo sung by an amazing voice. Clay can bring that. I'm also doubting international prospects, but Ronan Keating and Westlife somehow continue to move units in the UK, so if given the right promotion, who knows, since he can outsing any of them. Vocals aren't everything, but they can bring up average material to another level for me. It's kind of different and going against the current tide, and the best and most successful music right now is that which seems to be going in different directions than what you'd expect "pop" to sound like. Now the "in" thing is to be "edgy", which is great, but a steady diet of edge can rip up a stomach when not countered. I'm not expecting everyone or even anyone who reads this blog to like or even tolerate Clay, but allow me to indulge myself every once in awhile. *g*
Bonus: Invisible (Julian Marsh Mix) - An attempt at a dance remix of the big hit single from the first album, also released in England by Irish boy band D-side. It makes it slightly more uptempo and extends it a bit, though this guy couldn't do much without the acapella. It's been accused of being a stalker song, and I guess that could be true, but it's pure hooky pop of the likes that hasn't been successful in America for several years until recently, so a song like this doing as well as it did in 2003 is a huge accomplishment.
On another note, Christina Aguilera's Back to Basics has leaked. I fully intend on buying it, so i'm being a wierd freak and not downloading it because I want to listen to it in full for the first time that day. All i've heard are the single and some crappy quality radio rips, although today I was sent a radio survey online featuring clips of "Hurt" and "Oh Mother". Next single? Not sure what I think, though i'd probably go for the latter. Apparently "Candy Man" is coming before those, though. She's another one whose voice I can listen to virtually anything sing. The general consensus seems to be that it would have been better to cut the album down from its double disc status, but i'm greedy and love every little bit of music that's coming. It took long enough!