Sunday, December 31, 2006

Year End--2006 In Review

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~Collage by FountainDawg~

2006 is finally at an end. It's probably not a bad thing in the Clay fandom. We started out the year with such hope and anticipation for the great things that were in store for Clay. In 2005, we were highly anticipating news of a new album, had a great summer Jukebox Tour which seemed like a gift to the fans, and a two-month Joyful Noise Tour that featured vignettes that Clay wrote himself. The fandom had been divided on the JNT for a variety of reasons, but the main reason was that there was just not enough interaction of Clay with his audience. Clay's personality is a big draw in his shows, and the play aspect of the show did not allow that to shine through. Though I was proud of him for spreading his wings (he did play an angel *g*) artistically.

The Ugly
If we only knew how good we had it in 2005. Starting the year was rough because we weren't sure when we would hear from Clay again. We had been waiting on news of an album for almost a year. We knew that he had been recording, so we were still in wait mode. We actually didn't have to wait to long to hear from Clay because on Jan 17th he blogged with a quote from the bible -- Isaiah 51:7. "Do not fear the reproach of others, and do not be dismayed when they revile you." At that time we didn't really know what he meant, but we didn't have to wait long before the crap hit the fan. Clay had become a target of a nefarious character looking to capitalize on Clay's fame by spreading vile rumors and lies about him. Vile because Clay was made to look like some desperate loser when we all know he is anything but. The one really positive that came out of this MESS was that the fandom and Clay grew stronger. Our bond is deeper than ever. Clay has proven to be a man of strength and character, a man worthy of admiration and devotion. If the plan was to divide and conquer the fandom, it was a dismal failure. You had only to look at the "Circle the Wagon" thread at the Official Fan Club to see hundreds and hundreds of messages of support for Clay. We weren't going anywhere.

The Let Down
All the while, we were still waiting for some positive news. I don't think I'm wrong in saying the vast majority of the fandom was looking forward to an album of original mid-tempo pop/rock songs with perhaps a couple of ballads. In February we finally had some concrete information in regards to the album when Entertainment Weekly printed that Clay's album would be "both original tunes and "lots of covers"" released sometime in May. Not.Good.News. If fact, the news hit the fandom like a ton of bricks. It was a "you gotta be kidding me" kind of moment. We didn't wait this long for "lots of covers", did we? Upset would be too mild a word about the emotions that were running rampant in the fandom after this news. Finally most people starting accepting the inevitable, but still hoping for some kick-ass rockin'songs. (Well, not all people were accepting, as there were conspiracy theories to derail Clay's career aplenty.) As we got closer and closer to May with no album announcement, we should have known something was up especially as Clay was blogging for us to "expect something different" and hinting at love songs.

The Different
Dates were coming and going. Mother's Day came and went, a date of June 11th went up on the RCA site (for about a day), then there were opening for the GMA Summer Concert series in August and we were sure that Clay would be performing. At one time Clay had blogged that we would hear new "quite soon". Those words along with Clay's sense of time became a bit of a fandom joke. By July, Clay was having fun making us guess acronyms for his new album, so we knew it was close. The winner would get a phone call from him. Middle of July we had the title of A Thousand Different Ways. On August 3rd came the press release with the track list. HELLO!!!- Where are the rockin' songs? Nope, we were getting an album of schmaltzy love songs--ballads.

The Songwriter
When we got the cover art and photos from the photo shoot we got Ooh-la-la, one hot, sexy man. Dang, he grow-ed up real nice. When the song list was released, I admit I was not thrilled with some of the song selections, but when I heard the album, I was instantly sold. Clay did something different to the songs plus his vox was intoxicating as ever. I loved the ethereal quality to "Broken Wings". We learned later that the arrangement was his vision. He also had a writing credit on "Lonely No More" my second favorite song on the album, but the very best did not make the album. For some strange reason it was part of a iTunes exclusive. "Lover All Alone" was a beautiful, haunting song written by Clay with music by David Foster. We have David Foster to thank for giving Clay the music, and David's sister Jaymes who executive produced the album for nagging Clay to write the lyrics. The song talked of someone having a lot of love to give someone, but not finding that right person to give it to. Something to which many can relate. Why wasn't it on the album? Another mystery. It wasn't like the album was only songs of happy love. There were also songs of heartache like "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word" and “Without You”. “Lover All Alone” should have been on this album. At least now we know that Clay Aiken can write, and write beautifully. Clay has a talent for songwriting, now he needs to be able to open up and share his inner feelings. I hope he is ready to do that soon. With all the people and causes he is passionate about, I think he has a lot to say.

The Look

At the the AI Finale in May, Clay unveiled a new look. No more spikes, instead there was a head of dark long hair with bangs hanging into the eyes very reminiscent of a young Paul McCartney. It was a bit of a shock at first, but many grew to love it. One thing is for sure, the man got a lot of buzz from that 3-minute appearance where he sang "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me". Every media outlook and watercooler were buzzing about him the next day. Taylor who? The look changed somewhat throughout the rest of the year, the hair lightened and grew longer. The bangs were eventually discarded for a side part, but it suited Clay's more mature look. His body and face had filled out. Gone was the boy next door. Welcome to the hawt sexy man.

The Bonus
One nice little surprise was receiving a four-song Christmas EP entitle All Is Well. The songs included "My Grown Up Christmas List", "O Come O Come Emmanuel", "Christmas Waltz", and the title track "All is Well". Unfortunately, the EP was a Walmart exclusive with limited availability. Why? Again it's a mystery, but there are some theories that RCA wanted the CD to lure customers into Walmart to buy other Idol CD's because as we know, Idols are pretty much interchangeable. *snerk* Clay did perform all four songs on the Christmas Tour. "All I Well" is an especially difficult song as it spans Clay's whole range of almost two octaves. Clay performed it as the encore. His voice was not quite ready for it at the first show because after all the singing and bantering, he totally missed the last glory note. Not that it took away from an otherwise vocally stellar show. The haters of the world tried to make a big deal out of it, gleefully putting it up on YouTube. His voice was declared shot by them, but too bad Clay didn't oblige them because his voice grew better and better with each show.

The Humanitarian
As always, charitable endeavors were a big part of Clay's year. I'm sure we don't know everything that goes on behind the scenes, but what we do know is pretty impressive. Clay continued his work with UNICEF raising money for children in the war-torn Middle East, and even lighting the UNICEF star in New York. The biggest honor this year had to be being named to serve a two-year term in the U.S. President's Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. The committee acts in an advisory capacity to the U.S. President and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on matters relating to programs and services for persons with intellectual disabilities. Clay also took part in the "David Foster and Friends Charity Gala" which raised money for children of organ transplants. Clay and David Foster raised $1 million for two performances in the auction. Teacher Clay was in full evidence at Nazareth Elementary where the authors of "My Friend Mikayla" were honored by a reading by Clay, and then the young authors were treated to a limo ride back to school.

The Comedian
The man loves his Christmas music without a doubt, so while there was no actual Joyful Noise Tour complete with band and back-up singers, there were spot dates with symphony orchestras for the month of December--eighteen dates in all. Due to the short timeframe, these concerts were concentrated on the East Coast and Midwest to the dismay of the West Coast (and Texas) fans. The image of a guest singer with a symphony conjures up images up beautiful, reverent singing done in tails or at least a tux. Leave it to Clay to never do what you think he will do. Yes he sang, yes he looked good in a suit, but who knew he would be so funny. His banter sections were almost as long as the singing sections. He engaged and played off his audience poking fun at them and himself. The audience loved it, laughing uproariously throughout the show. He even introduced some rather bawdy humor. I think he converted a male fan or two with this show. This was a whole other side of Clay Aiken.

The Trooper
The show must go on. That is a credo by which Clay Aiken lives. Whether he has to perform after an allergic reaction, or just getting over an illness, if he can remain upright, he performs. Sometimes even if he can't remain upright, he performs, as was the case in Long Island where Clay performed with vertigo. He had been suffering from an inner infection which caused bouts of dizziness, but in Long Island it was so bad, he got out to the stool, and sat clutching it and the mike stand the rest of the performance. He gave what was arguably his best vocal performance of the tour, and was uproariously funny to perhaps compensate for sitting the whole concert. He even came back out helped by his cousin Jamie, and performed 'All Is Well". He had to wait for Jamie to come get him to help him off the stage because he couldn't on his own. The fans could not have loved him more.

The Future
Here are waiting again once again to see what the future holds. The end of the year seems to have shades of much beginning 2006, this time with a bratty kid who feels a sense of entitlement bashing Clay in the media with the usual scum and bottom-feeders in on the frenzy. Clay as always holds himself above the fray with dignity. Perhaps we have come full circle, and good things are in store for 2007. Our resident astrologers hint that it should be good year. Clay left a year-end audio message at the Official Fan Club where he said he hopes we all are ready for a "fresh start in 2007". Yeah, I am.

dudley at Clayversity had a wonderful quote, which pretty much sums it up:

Dang, Clay has had a busy 2006! Consorting with all forms of people he has never met and with whom he has never communicated, canceling phantom concert performances by local acts who were never properly booked in the first place AND breaking up Regis & Kelly! Forget superstar, the man is some force of nature! One can only imagine how he'll surpass himself in 2007.

and from divayenta at the Clack House:
You said it! And here come the headlines ad absurdum: Homo Dead Beat Dad and Childhater is Homewrecker to America's Sweetheart Talk Show Hosts While Singlehandedly Bringing Down Western Civilization!!!

Yup--that Clay Aiken is one busy guy.

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Please don't miss the fantastic montage by Smarty PantsSuz that summarizes some of the wonderful memories of 2006 (set to My Favorite Things)

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At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Blog, It about says it ALL, Especially about the album.(sadly I still don't like it, I tried but I just can't listen to it with any intrest....It's the song choices, not Clay.) (I'm not even looking forward to any rumoured tour for this one, chill and laid back with these songs, ugh.) I am still here because I'm a Clay fan. I'm still addicted, I'm still hopeful of things to come, besides, things couldn't possibly be worse could they?( bites tounge and knocks on wood)
By the way, you didn't mention All IS Well in your recap, how come?

At 11:16 AM, Blogger Vox Vixen said...

Good Point. I can't believe I missed "All Is Well. I added a section on it and also on Clay's performing with vertigo.

Thanks for reading.


At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent summary - you did an awesome job on this and thank you so very much for this entry, and all of them. I love your blog.

Happy 2007!!


At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Suz said...

What a wonderful summary of the year! Thanks!!

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous kfc..Red Deer, Alberta Canada said...

What a wonderful blog about our year of Clay! He put so much of himself 'out there' was so obvious he loves his fans.

Contrary to Anonymous, I love Clay's new album; if the radio even made a small attempt at playing some of the songs, I'm sure even Bryan Adams and Celine Dion fans would really love Clay's version of their songs. I know I do.

Clay's 2007 'Love Tour' will be one hot show and I feel sorry for those who purposely overlook it. I don't know how we'll survive it! I just hope he brings it to Canada.

Thank you for the ecxcellent recap!
Happy 2007!

At 4:15 AM, Blogger Carolina Clay said...


This is a wonderful 2006 review of Clay Aiken and his Internet fans, who celebrate and suffer every event -- good, bad, or indifferent -- along the way.

Suz's "My Favorite Things 2006" montage is an awesome accompaniment.

Looking forward to a "fresh new start" in many ways!



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