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Music Review: Clay Aiken – On My Way Here

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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.

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About Toni Schwartz

  • Dave

    “for he unleashes those pipes in “The Real Me” ”

    I swear, nobody actually listens to albums anymore. :insert eyeroll here:

  • Mac

    Just once I’d like to read a review that doesn’t mention the word Claymate. I’m a 50 year old guy who played in rock bands to get through college and I have no problem saying I like Clay Aiken. And Elvis Costello and Wilco and Kurt Elling. And a whole mess of different singers and songwriters. I think this album just might appeal to a lot of people who haven’t a clue about Claymates or adult contemporary music or never owned a Barry Manilow album. Falling sounds like Invisible? Because it has a small section of techno sound? And that’s bad? Not original? Yeah, because that top 40 crap doesn’t all sound the same and I can’t tell one female over-processed voice from another. He doesn’t cater to the pop MTV crowd – ok. That’s bad? Cause that music is GOOD? And adult contemporary is bad? It’s the only place I can hear Van Morrison’s new album and I’ll take that over that Keep Bleeding song any day. It’s no wonder I can’t turn on the radio. What a pity you can’t just review the album without the condescension to an audience who isn’t a Claymate and still thinks Clay Aiken put out a good album. You don’t have to like it but open yourself up to the possibility that there are people other than this monolithic Claymate world “critics” seem to be obsessed with.

  • Necile

    Thank you, Mac, for saying what most of us have been thinking all along. These critics all seem to have to base their reviews of Clay from the “I’m just too stinking KEWL” handbook.

    And what is so freaking wonderful about MTV? I didn’t realize that they were the be-all, end-all of musical taste. Thank God they’re not!!!

  • Joy

    Obviously, actually listening to the album that you are going to review is no longer a requirement. It is so very much easier, and quicker, to go to Amazon and listen to the 30 second snippets.

  • Emileigh

    All critics need to identify themselves more clearly because as a music major in my senior year I am hearing some very fine and complex material in this offering from Aiken. I have really disliked his other stuff though I loved his vocal range and I thought he killed in Spamalot. I think you got this one wrong because I am giving it a few listens on AOL and I really am liking it. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars!

  • Don

    You can tell from reviews which critics actually listened to the songs and which didn’t. This CD sounds NOTHING like his other ones. There are some extremely different sounds on here — very eclectic. If any other name was on the cover as being the singer, it would be getting great responses for being a good mix of songs and sounds. Saying nothing is worth listening to if you aren’t a diehard fan is stupid.

    Critics supposedly write (but not really) because they DON’T have the talent to be the singer themselves. Jealous much? But then anyone who TRULY BUYS or does NOT BUY a CD based on what some nobody says about a CD is pretty lame. Most people have their own brains and can use them. Shame critics can’t — and since the reviews are literally the exact same words in many cases, there is NO way they can claim their review is original. More like lazy and taken from whoever gets the review up first. Gosh people, work for your salary. Actually listen and think enough to write for yourself. I’ll choose what to buy for myself.

  • BenjaminBraddock

    Is it OK to be a guy in college who plays football & likes this CD? Coz I am. “Weight of the World” which sounds kind of like a U2 song, “Falling” which sounds NOTHING like “Invisible” & “Ashes” which just sounds freakin’ good, are my picks to download.

  • Toni

    For the record, I did listen to the entire CD. Several times, in fact. And no, I don’t get paid for this job.

    It’s interesting to presume that a less-than-stellar review means that the reviewer is “jealous”.

    Also, I never said that there was anything wrong with being an adult contemporary artist. I think that he should stick with that instead of trying to branch out to pop music, which seems to be the case given some of the fast tracks on the CD.

  • hannah

    Is it just me or are these critics copying each other? One form letter and they fill in the blanks. We’re onto you guys. You are just too cool! ‘Baby Got Back’ has meaningful lyrics??!!! How about ‘Sexy Back’? Now that really says something doesn’t it? That’s not trite is it?

    Why don’t you tell the truth and admit you just don’t want to give Clay the credit he deserves for an great album? You are just too transparent. You got one thing right. Clay has an incredible voice. His fans are not going away and he is gaining new fans all the time. He can do anything he sets his mind to. His performances in Spamalot received rave reviews from real critics in the New York Drama Critics Circle. Look it up.

    Clay he will be around long after some of you music “critics.”

  • Toni

    So the only “real critics” are the ones that offer praise? And those who do not offer praise have some sort of secret agenda? Intriguing perspective.

    Thank you for your comment! :)

  • hannah

    Now I’m sorry I attacked you that way Toni. It’s just too easy for you guys to expect Clay to be too perfect and then to bash him because he is perfect.

    It’s frustrating to us and sadly he has become used to it. :(

  • Toni

    I understand people’s anger over my review. I’m sorry that it makes people angry and think I’m “bashing” him, but I stand by my opinions on this album.

    I wanted to like this album. I have respect for Clay’s talent and think he’s an amazing singer. The thing is that it gets wasted in creating so-so music.

  • Emileigh

    Hey Toni, do you really believe Kipper makes so so music because he produced this CD and he is one of my favorites. I’m curious. What do you listen to in music? I’m 23 and I listen to an eclectic mix of top 40, jazz, blues, classical and HotAC. I was raised on classic rock as my parents were both musicians in the 70’s. So, please do let me know what you actually like and give this CD another listen with an open mind and an ear for the layers of what Clay’s voice and Kippers magic have created.

  • janet

    For those wondering if Toni’s review is valid in describing this CD, PLEASE go to a Barnes and Noble or other store and listen to this CD YOURSELF. Don’t let other people, namely critics, decide for you what you like in music.

    I have listened to Clay Aiken’s CD, and I think it’s quite refreshing! If only this kind of music could be heard on Top 40 radio instead of the same old stuff that sounds the same! But we all know the sad state that radio is in. I applaud Clay for crafting an album that actually has some meaning for society, even if the lyrics are simple and straightforward. Maybe the public needs this over the meaningless drivel we seem to be hearing ad naseaum these days!

    Good job Clay Aiken!

  • Loren

    Toni, of course no one has to love the album to give it a fair review. Nor hate it to show their sophisticated musical tastes. What some of us are confused about is why Claymates enter into your analysis of music in the first place. And for me, I’m confused by words like unmemorable. Do people produce albums full of memorable cuts? All 12 of them? Lover All Alone is haunting in it’s simplicity – at least to me. That makes it memorable. Is it groundbreaking? No. But short of Dylan going electric or the Beatles adding full orchestras to their pop music – I haven’t heard much that’s truly memorable. What I have heard is plenty of good music coming from a variety of different singers/musicians. Everything I Don’t Need starts off great but becomes uninspiring? It’s supposed to be inspiring? I thought it was just supposed to be funky and fun. And it is. At least to me.

    And most confusing to me is how this album only appeals to Claymates but those looking for more originality and substance should look elsewhere. I don’t know how high you set the bar – but my guess is you can count on your hand the number of recent cds that are full of “originality and substance”. I found much that was original in this album. As for substance? I’m off to read a book.

  • kayla

    I sore you in the play called spamalot I thought you were great if you do I got your adograf and whent on the stage
    reamember kayla and robbie. I hope you like new york how is jerone he sleeps over ms.marys house.cant wate to see you agin.
    love
    kayla

  • kizmet

    I decided before Clay’s CD came out to scan for the word “Claymate” in any online reviews, and only read those that did not include the word. Any good reviewer would review the CD, not his fans, so I am leaving without reading yours. I don’t care if a review is good or bad, taste is subjective, but I will not waste my time on a lazy reviewer with a closed mind.

  • doreen

    Sigh. The Claymates always overreact and they ALWAYS hurt Clay more than they help him. They are maddening.

    The reviewer is right that much of this music is corny and bland, which is nobody’s fault but Clay’s, as it’s clearly the kind of music he listens to and hears in his head. This cd had a new producer but the best producer in the world can’t make Clay something he’s not, and he’s not modern or edgy or original, sorry folks. I’m a fan and I bought the cd but have to admit it’s something I will probably rarely listen to. I’m sorry to say that.

    I wonder if the reviewer likes Ashes? That’s my favorite song so far. It sounds more modern than most of the rest. I don’t really think Clay’s aiming for Top 40 here, or mainstream pop, I think he’s aiming for AC, which he hasn’t managed to break into so far as they have refused to play him. Hopefully they’ll find a couple of songs on this cd to like.

    I love a beautiful ballad, but these songs are so trite for the most part, overwrought and with trite lyrics … still it’s well produced and much better than the last cd. I agree with the reviewer that it’s on a par with Measure of a Man and is not more modern than that cd six years ago. In fact I think MOAM had some better songs on it.

    I do like Ashes though. So far that’s the one I would recommend.

  • Doreen

    On listening more, there are a few songs I like besides Ashes. Where I Draw the Line is appealing … and Something About Us is a likable romantic ballad that could have a life of its own if people discover it.

    Falling is too corny as is Weight of the World. They have a decent sound but the lyrics are so trite. Somebody should teach Clay about cliches as they immediately negate what he’s trying to do.

    The Real Me and As Long As We’re Here sound like Christian music, which I don’t care for.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Ultimately, the problem with this CD is the same for mostly all Vocal focused & non-vocal focused Pop CDs. They are produced with the “Hit” mentality in mind. They are engineered with software for error correction & to level out all instruments perfectly making the recording sound way too slick. There isn’t a brand preference for the instruments because they can get the sound they want with said software. You can tell when tracks have been layered with instrument parts as opposed to an actual performance. Thus,Clay’s voice is in the forefront & stands out oddly just a bit. The songs have had a million takes & there is no real connection between the musicians just sight reading.

    Honestly, Clay has a brilliant voice & I too wished he wasn’t so in love with the Adult Easy Listening material but that’s his zone. I can only hope he will pull away from the pop machine & release an album of his own. Stop worrying about the producer & get with some highly talented players that can help you progress. You have an awesome voice…Learn to communicate on your own!

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    I haven’t heard this album and am not a fan of Clay Aiken, but I will be using the term “Claymate” in subsequent reviews to see what kind of traffic I can drum up!

  • Toni

    Thanks for the comments everyone! :)

    As I mentioned, I wanted to like this CD. I actually liked a few songs from Measure of a Man. However, even after listening to On My Way Here several times (in its entirety), it just didn’t grab me with the exception of the title track. Many of the lyrics sounded corny (seriously, Romeo and Juliet?) and the chorus of some of the songs are repetitive. I’m not saying that it’s worse than the silly pop music that we hear on the radio; just that I expected more from someone with that magnitude of talent.

  • Loren

    ” I’m not saying that it’s worse than the silly pop music that we hear on the radio; just that I expected more from someone with that magnitude of talent.”

    You’re right there Toni and had that been in the review it would have changed the whole dismissive tone quite a bit. This is Clay’s first album that is “his” in that he was involved in the actual making of the album. I think he’ll make that album someday that will make you sit up and say “thank you” and it’s fine that this isn’t the one. But it’s a heck of a lot better than much of the pablam on the radio and while you may not hear it – I found quite a bit of what Clay was doing vocally to be extremely innovative and original. And even that old hack Cole Porter referenced Romeo and Juliet in a love song. What did he know?

  • Lindsay

    It would be nice to read a review that didn’t comment on Clay’s fans.

  • Don

    Well you may have listened to it several times and you are allowed your opinion. But to talk about trite lyrics and then consider things that get raves and win grammies — talking about sidewalks and fingers turning green and my umbrella brella brella etc — that is NOT trite. Give me a break. There is very LITTLE good music around and if you expect real meaning to need to look somewhere other than top 40 or AC music — like maybe a college campus lecture instead.

    Talking about no edge — whatever. The MUSIC does have edges to it – it is NOT bland and normal. But because he doesn’t sing about sex, drugs, illegal activities or destroying someone’s property it doesn’t have edge — OK. Whatever. There is plenty of meaning in those songs for people who want a message. As Long As We’re Here is full of meaning, especially considering this song really reached out to him while he was on a trip as a Unicef Ambassador working for children. Maybe that is the problem — he sees a whole different LIFE than people who want to be entertained with EDGE, instead of meaning.

    Again opinions are great but for me, if anyone can’t find some meaning in at least some of these songs, with their diversity, then I just feel sorry for them and what their life must be based on. He talks about love, hurt, anger, need, praise of others, including God — surely something is there has meaning.

  • Dave

    Bottom line is that the critics have a narrow view of what they expected and Clay isn’t cooperating. How dare he do funk, R&B, gospel or rock!

    There is an audience for his style and his amazing versatility. Accept that you aren’t cool enough to get him, without denigrating him for daring to make an ecclectic CD with beautiful songs from his heart.

    You’ll love Ashlee Simpson’s new effort. It’s completely soulless and references using your other head often enough to satisfy the boys boys boys.

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    “There is very LITTLE good music around”

    Nonsense. Absolute utter nonsense.

    “You’ll love Ashlee Simpson’s new effort. It’s completely soulless and references using your other head often enough to satisfy the boys boys boys.”

    More utter nonsense.

  • Toni

    How amusing that people will assume that just because I don’t like this CD, I’m “not cool”.

    Have a good day! :)

  • Sue

    Toni

    It’s been an interesting discussion. But I think that you may have to look at the big picture when it comes to Clay. MTV several years ago dubbed Clay The Prince of Positive Pop. If he had recorded all ballads a good majority would not be happy. He has recorded some catchy fast songs, with a few mid tempo, and they’re below par? What I have heard on the radio, his songs are probably above par.

    Maybe you should be more specific in your review, and give Clay an idea of what kind of songs you want him to record. All ballads? Even Celine Dion doesn’t sing all ballads. He’s not Josh Groban. Josh is an opera singer, pure and simple, who has had vocal training since he was four years old. You wonder why he sounds older. Do you think he should sing Josh Groban songs? Then critics would complain that he shouldn’t try to be Josh Groban. Maybe, Clay’s trying to tell you what he is, and that’s a guy who likes lyrics that he can understand, that are identifiable, that he relates to, and what he finds beautiful. He records something different, because the world needs different. Racy Hip hop, rap, and neg rap have gone on long enough. It is time to have some variety here, and Clay has done it. Amy Winehouse’s CD the big Grammy winner was great substance? Singing “No Rehab”, and lyrics of the other songs that were rather racy, is noteworthy? Plus, she sounded like she was as high as a kite when she sang it. I’ll take Clay’s Everything I Don’t Need in a heartbeat on top 40.

    You’ll get used to it, Toni. Because Clay isn’t going anywhere but up. When you’re a singer who has an ever increasing fan base like Clay has, you know he is doing something right. He’s cracking the mold of modern day pop music…a nice alternative.

  • Toni

    Thanks for your comment and for stopping by! :)

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    “Amy Winehouse’s CD the big Grammy winner was great substance?”

    Yes, it’s an excellent album from start to finish.

  • Pat

    I have read the entire discussion, and I see a lot of defensiveness here. I don’t understand what is trite or cliche about any of the lyrics on this CD. They sound quite interesting to me. You don’t have to like every song on anyone’s album, but I don’t understand what kind of originality and substance you are looking for. That comment makes no sense to me at all. And just because Clay has a great voice, people expect MORE of him? Why? That doesn’t make sense, either. And it isn’t fair. Any of these songs would be fine on the radio. Clay himself has said that anyone else could sing these songs and be accepted onto the radio. I don’t understand why radio won’t play his music. I try to listen to pop radio now and then, and I don’t hear much that interests me. And I, too, am getting tired of the “Claymate” reference. Fans are fans, and Clay has fans of all ages, genders, races, nationalities, etc. Too many people want to dump all of Clay’s fans into a box. And why call his fans “fanatical”? Isn’t that what a “fan” is? Maybe there’s a reason that Clay has fanatical fans. Too many also want to throw Clay into a box as well. Why can’t he sing upbeat songs? Didn’t you see the JukeBox tour? He sang everything from Elvis to Jerry Lee Lewis to Ricky Martin. He was wonderful, and you can see it all on YouTube. He is criticized for singing slow songs and then criticized for not singing slow songs when in reality Clay can sing it all.

  • Kath

    My daughter bought this CD yesterday. We listened to it and I liked it. I felt some of the songs sounded very similar, but they fit Clay’s voice and talent. I was very glad he put “Lover All Alone” on the CD. He sang it last year on his tour and he wrote this song. It is a very heart-felt song and very well done. I think if you are a fan of Clay you will like this CD. If you aren’t, you may like some of it. But in all honesty, I think it’s hard for people who really aren’t fans of Clay to listen to this CD objectively and have a positive review. Just my humble opinion!

  • Dani

    I listen to a song and expect some sort of meaning to the song. Sometimes the meaning is very direct and easy to interpret, sometimes it’s indirect and requires thought. What defines substance in a song? These are lyrics from top singles now.

    “Touch my body
    Put me on the floor
    Wrestle me around
    Play with me some more…”
    e-mc2

    “Shawty wanna thug (yah yah)
    bottles in the club (yah yah yah)
    shawty wanna hump (yah yah yah)
    (the rest edited out…)”
    Lollypop

    There are a few good artists who are original in todays world, but for the most part, I listen and hear songs that sound generically the same or trying to sell their songs based on human lust. It’s as if the labels think they found a recipe card for a success years ago that they can stick to. I consider substance in music to mean that the songs parts come together to give it meaning and character.

    Good music is subjective to the listener.
    I thought his vocals were quite good, the instrumentals outstanding. Some of the lyrics were quite cliche, but were used in the song to create a recollection of a memory in the listener that they could use to relate to the song. If I were to criticize the CD it would also be on the lyrics being so direct and use of cliche’s. However, it does fill a void in the current music offering for those looking for music with a rich vocal sound.

    Usually when you listen to a CD there are usually good and bad parts to it. I found it odd that you didn’t like anything about the CD?

  • http://canadiancinephile.com/ Jordan Richardson

    When human lust stops being a factor in our existence and enjoyment of life, songs and artists will probably stop discussing the issue of sex.

  • Jan

    I bought the CD and I like it. I’m a fan of Clay and his music. I’d recommend his book as well. But I knew, listening to the CD, that this was not going to get a million raves from the critics. Does that really matter? The album dedication is for the fans. And if we enjoy it, to me, that is more important. So why doesn’t everybody just relax and enjoy whatever music you choose, instead of ganging up on critics who are just sharing their opinion. I’d rather read someone’s honest opinion than the opinion of someone who was censoring it for fear of rapid-fire, angry comments.

    To quote Doreen: “Sigh. The Claymates always overreact and they ALWAYS hurt Clay more than they help him. They are maddening.”

  • Vicki

    Toni – I don’t call myself a “Claymate,” but have called myself a Clay Aiken fan ever since I heard him sing Solitaire. I just bought his third cd, and will have to agree with several of your opinions. I think Clay has an amazing voice, but hasn’t yet made an amazing album. I was so hoping this one would be so much better than the last. I’ve enjoyed all his cd’s, but it’s like you said that he has so much more potential, however I haven’t yet quite figured out either what I want to hear him sing. I definitely want something original and not covers. I was never a Barry Manilow fan (nothing against him) and am really hoping Clay doesn’t start to move into that category. Also, there isn’t anything wrong with doing covers if you can pull them off so well to make them your own as Rod Stewart did for many years. I’m enjoying Clay’s newest cd, but not loving it. So, will have to agree with Toni, but also enjoyed Mac’s review and agree with many of his thoughts and opinions. I enjoy a wide range of music like Mac, but unlike Mac I do enjoy Leona Lewis and her Bleeding song, but also can really appreciate Clay’s style, but just want more like he did with Solitaire.

  • Sue G.

    I agree with the comment that if other popular singers pictures and names were all over Clay’s “On My Way Here” album, your review of his new album would have been completely different and I imagine would be WAY BETTER…Just say “Clay Aiken”, and bingo, it is time to start criticizing him…I just don’t get it!!…He has a gorgeous voice, and quite frankly, he doesn’t fit into ANY genre and that is part of what makes him so special…You need to step out of the “time to knock Clay Aiken” box and really listen to his music in a new light…He sings his heart out, and just listen to your comments…It is getting so old, and it is sad that so many people just aren’t giving him a chance…I guess you won’t be “in” unless you dish out all the negative stuff, huh? So sad….

  • Toni

    Because the only “real” reviews are the positive ones, correct? Fascinating how some people think.

    Thanks for the comments! :)

  • Denise S.

    I don’t know why anyone would compare Clay Aiken to Barry Manilow. Clay Aiken sounds more like Steve Perry to me….a power ballad singer. But then, that is what a smear campaign does. Smear on ctitics!….you are all too obvious to be fooled. Even the non fans are seeing something wrong at this point.

  • Toni

    Yes, you’ve finally figured us out. There is a global conspiracy of critics to destroy Clay Aiken. Gosh, you people are on the ball.

    Smear campaign….that’s a good one! Thanks! :)

  • Denise S.

    Surely you jest? There are smear campaigns all over the media. Just read the political posts alone. If you think there aren’t smear campaigns in the entertainment world then you are just playing naive to keep face.

  • Toni

    These comments are intriguing to read. Thanks again for stopping by. Have a good day :)

  • Pat

    Jeeez! Let’s make mountains out of mole hills.

    I like Clay Aiken, I like his music, I like this CD. Where’s the problem with that?

  • psbintl

    Curious review:

    “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.”

    Clay Aiken is an artist who has sold over $7,000,000 albums (that is combined full albums plus singles and internet downloads)in five years without any radio support and has racked in well over $30,000,000+ in concert ticket sales (eight successful tours in five years.

    Those are not the stats of an artist who only has a handful of so-called “Claymates” as fans and whose music has no substance.

    Unfortunately there was an agenda based on bias for this review long before the reviewer ever really listened to the album.

    Pigs will fly the day we really see a music review anymore for any artist which projects an honest critique and objectivity.

    It’s a good thing I never let a review/critic determine what music I will listen to or what movie I see.

    OY!

  • psbintl

    I meant to type 7,000,000 Albums, not dollars.

    :)

  • pk

    Also, I never said that there was anything wrong with being an adult contemporary artist. I think that he should stick with that instead of trying to branch out to pop music, which seems to be the case given some of the fast tracks on the CD.

    Actually Toni, Clay said radio would NEVER play him so he was NOT looking for “radio friendly” songs for this CD. He is singing what he likes and I like it too. I thinks this CD is great!

  • Toni

    I guess the only “honest” review is a positive one, right?

    Thanks for the comments all! :)

  • psbintl

    No Toni,

    An honest review is one where the review actually listened to the music without a predetermined opinion of who the artist is or what the artist should record or without reference to the artist’s fans!

    This is a very eclectic and good mix of music and yet too many reviewers what to stick Clay Aiken in their own predetermined “box” where they think he should be.

    Your bias showed through loud and clear! Admit it!

  • Toni

    Well, that is your observation and your opinion. And I have mine. Sometimes they aren’t the same. Isn’t it great?

    Have a good day! :)

  • Gale

    Toni,

    I would love to hear who you think is memorable on the radio today. Could you please name three songs on the radio right now that have great lyrics with no cliches?

    That might help many people to understand where you are coming from with this review. Frankly, my view is vastly different.

    I enjoy to some degree every single track of this CD. Throughout the day I have some of these songs playing in my head because they are very “catchy” or so melodic they have captured the attention of my subconscious.

    I agree that if someone else’s name were on the album cover, many reviewers would allow themselves to actually give the CD its due.

    I also think it is a valid point that if a reviewer stoops to denigrating the fans of the person they are reviewing, they lose a good bit of any credbility they might have been given.

    There is an eclectic mix of tempo and style and yet an overarching theme which brings cohesiveness to this album. In my opinion it is far and away much better than Measure of a Man although I very much liked that CD as well.

  • Toni

    If you like this CD, then great. Enjoy it! No one said you shouldn’t like it. I just didn’t care for it much.

    Thanks for dropping by :)

  • Gale

    Toni,

    I had really hoped you could answer my questions but I can fully understand why you might not want to.

    Fair enough. Have a good day and, thanks …I am enjoying On My Way Here a lot…especially Ashes and Falling which are uptempo, and Everything I Don’t Need which I find wonderfully quasi-jazzy.

  • Linda

    Thanks for such a well-thought out review. It is a shame that someone with as much potential as Clay continues to put out third-rate material. After five years, it seems as though Clay is putting out the exact same product, and not growing or changing in any way as an artist, and that is very unfortunate. This CD sounds like one to pass on, but with a bit of luck, perhaps the next CD will rise up to Clay’s talent.

  • Keith

    Here’s the thing. What incentive does one have to buy this new CD which sounds like a remake of his first CD. Those of us who bought “Measure of a Man” already have that CD, so to put out practically the exact same product is just being lazy.

  • http://www.myspace.com/lovesca Susan

    Measure of a Man was mostly power ballads, except for “Invisible,” “Touch,” and “When You Say You Love Me.” I think there is a lot more variety in tempos, genres, vocals, instrumentation and production in this CD – the bluesy “Everything I Don’t Need,” up tempo “Ashes” & “Falling” – and the excellent Walmart exclusive track, “Forget I Ever Knew You” where he does incredibly sexy things with his voice in the verse before moving to a catchy up tempo chorus. “Something About Us” has a beautiful smoky/jazz style vocal – don’t care if the lyric is trite – the vocal is so good. I listened to the performance by the songwriter & there was no comparison to Clay’s beautiful interpretation. “The Real Me” & “Lover All Alone” are both haunting (and for the latter, Clay wrote a pretty good lyric).

    The theme of “Sacrificial Love” is going to resound with a lot of listeners, as is the title track for people who are emerging from some painful experiences. I like the Celtic feel of “As Long As We’re Here” – and this is a real power ballad, which I did not connect with on first hearing, but have grown to like very much.

    I gave this CD to two of my African American friends from work and when I drove up the day after, one girl had her car door open & the CD blaring to let me know how much she liked it.

    Sorry, the reviewer did not like the album – but lots of us “just listeners” do – and I hope that’s enough to make it the success it deserves to be.

  • smitty

    Maybe a lot of the critics reviews would be more acceptable if they, themselves, would step out of the box and quit using all the typical cliche’s to describe their opinions of an album. Shall we make a list of all the trite words used in this review such as corny, generic, bland, fanatical… And how about listening to the music with the beautiful vocals and rich background mixes without prejudice to the artist?

    There’s only so many words in the English language and there are no more cliche’s used in On My Way Here than in other AC and pop tunes. It’s just something used to criticize Clay who didn’t even write the lyrics to begin with. If you are looking for substance in a CD then maybe you need to listen to Ashlee Simpson who sings four notes very well.

    As for Claymates,they aren’t even a factor as they have nothing to do with the music. Critics often resort to bringing up the fans and in some cases reviewing them, too. It’s obvious critics use “Claymates” as a further knock to the cd. As soon as I see the word “Claymate” in a review I automatically know it’s written with prejudice. I’ll read your next review when it becomes obvious you have actually listened to the songs, written without prejudice to the artist and left his fans out of it.

  • psbintl

    Just want to say WORD! to smitty’s post!

    Face it Toni, you got caught on this one!

    Too bad, because had you really listened to this album without prior prejudice to the artist or his fans you could have written a respectable and believable review.

  • Toni

    Oh please. Recently I read some reviews of this CD in which the reviewers don’t mention “Claymates” at all, yet is still severely chewed out by fans because the reviewer dared to give it a negative review.

    Prejudice apparently works both ways. Many fans will like anything that’s put out by their favorite, regardless of whether it’s good or not. And they definitely get upset at anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

    You liked the CD. Spectacular! Enjoy it. Have a nice day :)

  • psbintl

    Yes, I have read those reviews as well and respect them BECAUSE they based their review on the album and NOT pre-bias towards the fan base as you did.

    Not all of the tracks on this album are for me but overall I think this is a very eclectic,well rounded album which showcases Clay Aiken’s versatile vocal talent and is very entertaining. And I based MY review solely on listening to every track.

    I am glad you do not consider yourself only a critic and not a journalist, because any credibility as a journalist would have been lost with this biased review.

  • Toni

    Journalists don’t write reviews, they report facts. Reviews are opinions and impressions. Critics provide an in-depth, almost academic, analysis of a certain subject. Clearly, I wrote this as a reviewer.

    Admittedly, I had some bias — in that I expected better. I actually liked Measure of a Man. It was a decent first album. It has some bland lyrics but there were some catchy tunes and nice ballads, and there’s no denying Clay’s great vocals. I had hoped though, that On My Way Here would improve upon it considering several years have passed.

    However, it didn’t and I was disappointed. I listened to the whole thing several times, for I didn’t want to make any snap judgments. I even took a break for a few days to clear my head and listened to it again. I made notes on each track. I re-wound individual songs and listened to them over and over. But in the end I realized that, other than the title track, I didn’t enjoy it. There was so little improvement over the first CD, which was a letdown.

    The reason I brought up the Claymates was because I feel that this CD would mainly appeal to the most diehard fans. Fans by nature aren’t exactly the most objective, and will like anything their favorite produces regardless of whether it’s good or bad.

    I’m sorry once again that I’ve upset people over this negative review. But I hope you all understand that my impressions were not based on prejudice against the artist or his fans.

    Take care and have a good weekend :)

  • nass

    That’s actually funny Toni, the title track to me was the weakest song on the album…You actually liked that one? I skip that one every time. I have a lot of other songs that are much better on that album. seriously now I understand why you didn’t like it and I did. You like the bland On my way here, can’t say much for your taste then, but now I understand you opinion. I do wonder what exactly people WANT from Clay… some like Toni wanted the bland song, some liked his more uptempo some said the CD was all ballads and I didn’t think that at all. I guess Toni heard something totally different than what I did. and yet he said it was bad I say it was good.

    it makes me lugh to think you get to spew your opinion yet you praise the worst song. yikes.

  • Pat

    Seriously. I don’t think it would make one bit of difference what Clay sang. Some people are just not going to like it, not because it’s bad but because it’s Clay. I still have no idea what it is that critics like Toni want Clay to do. Someone please give me an example of something you think he should do. All I hear is that he should change or develop or evolve or some such nonsense. In what way? Maybe Toni should pick out some songs for him and let us listen to them to see what he should do.

  • Dave

    Review By: Tony at Shipwreck Island Studios

    It has been a while since Clay Aiken has graced the music world with a full blown studio album. 5 years after “Measure Of A Man”, Clay showcases his growth as a musician as well as a person. From the catchy “Ashes” to the inspiring “As Long As Were Here”, Aiken shares his diversity like no current musician. After every Clay release I find myself wondering what could he possibly do next to showcase his talent? Of course only he knows what is to come up next…. But with On My Way Here, he has hit another homerun. There’s a great pallet of songs to choose from. There are of course the Clay Aiken pop rock tunes that music fans all know him for, then there are tunes that will shock even the most faithful “CA” fan. If you are only a fan of his pop rock material then chances are you will be giving this disc a lower rating then myself simply because of that reason. But if you like a broad range of material that covers different musical genres then it is a no brainer that you will appreciate this release. The one song that I feel will shock many “Everything I Don’t Need”, because it is “CA” outside the box. Clearly going the extra mile to try something different and frankly I think it worked out perfectly. Overall Clay has done the impossible again, releasing a disc that has something for everyone. If you liked his previous releases it only makes sense to continue the trend and pick this one up. If you didn’t like his past works…. I say give this one a try, listen to some audio clips via iTunes or other legal websites. A fun filled adventure from start to finish in the way only “CA” can do it.

    ^^ that was a review by a rock lover at shipwreckislandstudios.com, a music review site that focuses mostly on Indie Rock. I’d say he was objective, unlike the Toni that has a clear bias and predisposition to be a sheep just bleeting the same old crap like all the other sheep. Buck up man! Show some courage and quit trying to get into the cool crowd.

  • trish

    I see you deleted my post. Why don’t you want people to hear his song? Afraid that they will like it?

  • Toni

    I don’t have the authority to delete comments. If you made one earlier, it may have been deleted by another reason.

    Thanks for the comments all and have a great day!