Although he has never appeared on this particular reality show, Clay Aiken can arguably be considered the original "Biggest Loser". As the runner-up on season two of American Idol, Aiken proved early on that one didn't need to win the title to have a successful career in entertainment. With a double platinum first album, eight tours, a New York Times best-selling book, and a UNICEF ambassadorship under his belt, it's safe to say that Aiken is doing well. Recently he's added Broadway to his resume, currently appearing in Monty Python's Spamalot as Sir Robin.
In spite of his busy schedule, Aiken has found time to return to the studio to record his fourth album, On My Way Here, which comes out on May 6. On My Way Here is the second album with all original material, following his 2003 debut album Measure of a Man. Aiken released a Christmas CD in 2004, while the 2006 album A Thousand Different Ways was primarily a cover CD, featuring four original songs. There are 12 songs on the album, but a thirteenth track was a Wal-Mart exclusive and a fourteenth track was available on iTunes for pre-orders.
On My Way Here returns to the same formula used in Measure of a Man: to showcase Aiken's rich voice in ballads rife with corny, generic lyrics. It's a shame that Aiken keeps creating such bland albums, because he can truly sing. The titular song "On My Way Here" grabbed me instantly when I first heard it. Then again, it may be because it sounds very similar to "Measure of a Man". In "Lover All Alone" and "Sacrificial Love", Aiken controls his famously powerful lungs, resulting in two soothing but ultimately unmemorable songs. Power ballad fans need not worry though, for he unleashes those pipes in "The Real Me" and "As Long as We're Here".
While Aiken's strengths lie in power ballads, fast songs are a different story. Let's face it – the guy caters to the adult contemporary VH1 crowd, not the pop MTV audience. On My Way Here offers a few upbeat tunes, but they seem to be added as filler. "Everything I Don't Need" showed promise with its sultry, jazz-inspired opening but quickly dissolved into an uninspiring tune. "Falling" is better, but sounds a little too much like "Invisible" from Measure of a Man. "Grace of God" sounds out of place, belonging instead in a pop country album.
Regardless of its shortcomings, On My Way Here will still appeal to the notoriously fanatical Claymates, who will no doubt storm their local music store or visit their favorite music download site to purchase it. However, those who require a little more substance and originality in their music are best to look elsewhere.