May 3, 2008

Clay Aiken: San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviews

Posted in Musings tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:08 am by myrlinn

I just realised that I have written quite a lot of posts about Clay, although when I started this blog, I consciously decided not to make it about Clay. I did consider putting in a category titled “Clay Aiken”, but I decided not to because there are already so many great fan websites and blogs about Clay. I thought what I’d do is just put in things that I thought would be worthwhile for my friends to check out. Turns out that means quite a bit about Clay.

And I’m going to do it again, because I like Clay’s responses in the interviews below. And because they tie in with my thoughts while visiting the MPH (that’s a bookstore chain in this region) Warehouse Sale yesterday. Browsing through the piles and piles of books, I realised that there are self-improvement books covering just about everything. My “read self-improvement books phase” ended quite a few years ago, so I’d actually not realised how ridiculous they have become. It’s all well and good to “improve” yourself, but there’s a line between striving towards a better you, and losing your sense of self completely. And this is especially if you live in an urban, image-conscious environment.

I think some of those self-improvement books cross that line, which is why I like what Clay had to say his experience in learning to be himself, and in the process finding success:

San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 2008, Pop Quiz: Clay Aiken
(full interview here)

Clay talks about attracting extremes of love and hate, and being uncool (actually, I think it’s pretty cool of him to have the self-awareness to ultimately be himself, rather than someone who just melds in with the crowd, or someone who strives to be different just for the sake of being different).

Q: Why do so many people hate you?  A: I have no idea why they hate me, and I sure don’t have any idea why they love me. I’m completely clueless all the way around. In some ways, I’m sure, to a lot of people I represent that dorky kid in high school and middle school that everybody thought was a loser. And now there are plenty of people in the world who are bitter because that dorky kid became successful and they did not. It’s kind of threatening when that nerdy guy you’ve been making fun of for all those years has somehow become famous …Whatever. I’ve been around people who are too cool for me for almost 30 years now. I don’t know. I don’t think I’m very threatening, but I do threaten the notion that you must be good-looking and athletic and cool in order to be successful. I kind of screwed that up for some people who thought they were going to fly by.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 2, 2008, Clay Aiken Interview…
(full interview here)

Clay talks about his upcoming CD, “On My Way Here” being something that was organically created to suit him this time around, rather than produced to fit some formula that fit radio (or at least this is my interpretation of what he says):

Q: Do you think your first single “On My Way Here” can do well on radio? A: The label thinks so. We never tried to find a single. We used to try to do that. We tried and tried. Nothing worked. We do things that are good for me, that sounds believable. If you saw the show the last time, I did a bit of “Sexyback.” It was totally a joke, totally tongue in cheek. If I tried to sing those songs sincerely and put it on the radio, that’d be a caricature. I know that… I wanted every single song to connect with me lyrically. Some of them are songs that don’t necessarily connect with me directly but a majority of people will experience. We produced a very diverse sounding album. If some of these songs were sung by someone else, they might end up on Q100… Lyrically, it’s all connected.

Note: Clay’s 2004 memoir  Learning to Sing: Hearing the Music in Your Life also talks quite a bit on the subject of  being yourself.  It’s been a while since I read it, but I remember laughing, crying, and being very proud that he had the self-awareness as a teenager to realise that being yourself, and liking yourself, attracts others to you more than trying to be something you’re not.

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