Friday, May 22, 2009

Clay Aiken, American Idol & Reading Comprehension 101

Clay Aiken blogged on his Official Fan Club answering a question that one of the members asked. This blog was leaked by a less than honorable member of his board and is now all over the internet in various forms. There has been serious cutting and pasting by the "media" (and I use that term loosely) to fit their own agenda. So here it is and, since there seems that a lot of people have a real problem with reading comprehension, let's take it step by step.


Clay -You said a while ago that you aren't a big fan of IDOL anymore....because it isn't about the unknown person next door kind of contest. Tonight, it is a dead heat between a seasoned performer, Adam Lambert, and the boy next door, Kris Allen. If Kris Allen wins IDOL this year, will your faith in the show have been restored??? Thanks!


Now that it's all over, and for the record.... I couldn't be happier about the way AI ended this year. I only turn the show on once a season, and only to see what the set looks like each year. This year, I happened to turn it during the minute that Adam Lambert was singing "Ring of Fire" and, at that moment, thought my ears would bleed. Contrived, awful, and slightly frightening! I wasn't really a fan and found myself surprised whenever folks told me that they liked him. Granted, I never saw another performance (and many folks who I trust said that he was great) but I can't imagine I would have enjoyed it. Just not my cup of tea at all. To each his own.

My take: Clay is not a fan of Adam Lambert. Nowhere in this paragraph did he say that Adam Lambert is not talented, lots of people thought he was talented, Adam's just not his cup of tea at all, to each his own. Actually, he pretty much echoed exactly what Simon Cowell said about the performance ~ "I think what Randy was trying to say was what the hell was that? I mean, sorry, but I would never go to Nashville if I were you either, because I think there are a lot of people throwing their television sets out the window at this point, because I thought it was absolute, indulgent rubbish, if you want my honest opinion. I mean really, really horrific."

I never saw Kris sing on the show, but whether he was good or not is really relative. It's usually a matter of taste, right? But Idol is not always a matter of musical taste only. It's about the person you like. From what little I saw, Kris seemed likable. (That's not to say that Adam isn't just as likable as anyone.. maybe more so... I don't know) When Ruben and I were standing next to each other every night (many years ago) you had two equally talented, equally unlikely, equally unpolished contestants.... so it really was a matter of taste as to who was voted for. While some may argue that one of us was hyped more than the other, I don't feel that was the case. However, this year, there was an obvious bias. Not even having watched the show, I can tell you that I was WELL aware of the bias from the judges as to who should win. In my opinion, that is awfully unattractive. I don't think I am alone.

My take: American Idol is not about who is the most talented contestant, it's about who the viewing public likes. If this weren't the case there would be no back story and there would be no interviews. If this show was based solely on talent, there would be no need to get to "know" the contestants and their stories. They would stand up and sing, the judge's would critique, and the show would last 1/2 hour (or maybe just more commercials would be thrown in). During Season 2, Ruben & Clay were equals - the judge's did not favor one over the other (for the record, Clay & I disagree on this point). However, this season there was very blatant favoritism and bias shown by the judges toward one contestant.

In my opinion, it all often comes down to that last night of voting. Until the finale, folks are voting for the contestant that they want to see continue. But, I believe that on that last night, the dynamic changes. No longer forced to choose one person that they want to see win, the audience can effectively vote AGAINST the person that they don't want to see win. In the case of season two this might have happened. There may have been some folks who voted for myself or Ruben because they didn't like the other of us. I was the nerdy little girly boy who some didn't want to see win, so they may have voted for Ruben. I don't know. .. But again, I feel that Ruben and I were fairly matched. We both had our detractors and negatives, but I feel we were both very worthy of being on that stage in that moment, and either of us would have been worthy of winning. The show was different then, and folks made it in seasons 1-3 because they were "real" people who happened to sing/entertain well. But, somewhere along the way, AI stopped being about real people and started being about "fame" and "gloss"; It stopped being about the talented kid-next-door and started being about who was most marketable. (I don't think anyone would have argued in 2003 that Ruben or I were extremely marketable.) So, this year it was not like 2003. This year it all came down to two contestants so extremely different and mis-matched.... one that was so obviously the "favorite"... so hyped and polished and "ready for market"; who (accurately or inaccurately) came off to many as arrogant and superior ... and one kid who no one thought had a chance and (accurately or inaccurately) came off as humble and real.

My Take: On the night of the finale, the voting changes and, for some, it goes from who you want to stay to who you don't want to see win - a negative vote. This is what happened during Season 8. The public perception was that of a contestant who was very polished & seasoned, a professional and one who was the boy next door, the underdog - whether those perceptions were accurate or inaccurate doesn't matter, it's what the voting public saw.

In a battle between David and Goliath, my money is on David!

I think many voters got sick of being "told who to vote for". I think many were turned off by the blatant favoritism shown towards one contestant. Therefore, on that last night, they used their votes against a contestant that they were tired of hearing about and for the contestant who had been written off. And, at the same time, I think they voted AGAINST an American Idol that has, for four years now, been more about the slick productions and polished contestants than it has been about finding the raw talent that it did in its first three seasons.

My Take: People did not really vote against Adam Lambert as much as they voted against the American idol machine and their blatant attempt to manipulate the voting. It was a vote to get American Idol to take notice, that the viewing public is tired of the ringers and want the raw talent from the earlier years.

Those votes for Kris were also votes to return the show to its roots of finding "real" contestants with undiscovered talent and giving them the chance to grow and shine. They were votes that said "we're tired of seeing contestants who already seem to know it all".

Will American Idol choose to listen to the resounding and clarion call that those voters gave them?.... "Enough with the pretention. More Rubens, more Clays, more Fantasias and Tamyras and Kellys please." My faith has always been in the voters. I think they have gotten it right every year (mine included). It's now up to American Idol to decide if it will finally REALLY listen to the folks that keep it on the air.

My take: the American public was sending a message to American Idol to stop with the manipulation and go back to the roots - contestants who you get to see grow and change week after week, not contestants who have already arrived.

and as an aside - Rolling Stone? Clay Aiken HAS NOT taken down his blog - you need a new fact checker.


PaulaBear said...

Bravo sue, for a thoughtful, accurate presentation of what Clay was saying. Leave it to the media to get anything to do with Clay Aiken wrong.

musicfan said...

Thank you, thank you.........Why do people take one or two words out of context and think they know what Clay means!!

Why don't "real" news sites check their facts??

Thanks foer this blog!!

Anonymous said...

Finally...a clear reading of what Clay Aiken was saying! You could teach a masters class to journalists! Unfortunately they are too arrogant/ignorant to attend.

Anonymous said...

Clay Aiken hit the nail on the head where Idol is concerned. The American public rejected the judges' choice and screamed a resounding "No" to the AI machine. Wonder if we'll see a kinder, gentler, less biased Idol next year. Too bad I won't tune in to find out.

Anonymous said...

Bravo to Clay Aiken for speaking his mind. He has a unique perspective on the workings of the Idol machine. He was spot on in his assessment of the judges this year, and for quite a few years, I believe. Part of the enjoyment of the show was to watch a contestant grow and improve each week. AI can keep their polished posers, the public wants to see real contestants.

chel4clay said...

Thanks Sue for breaking Clays blog down, so hopefully people will understand it in the context that it was written. I hope more people will see it. Wish this could be seen by all.

Beanblossom said...

Right on!!! Clay Aiken speaks (or in this case writes) and we all listen or read - but wouldn't it be nice if we read what he really wrote, or heard what he really said - and not make it fit our agenda.

clayam said...

Bravo Sue for breaking down the blog by Clay Aiken in smaller parts maybe some journalists will understand it now....NOT!
And ditto to all the above comments.

joanie said...

Great blog! I admire and respect Clay for being so honest with his fans. They wanted to know what he thought of Adam Lambert and American Idol at his fan club message board; he answered them. Clay did not bash the show that made him famous, he simply gave his opinion on how different American Idol has become since he was a contestant. If some people didn't agree with Clay, so what? He's entitled to his opinion like everyone else. Clay and Adam are not tied at the hip simply because they both appeared on the same reality tv show.

gerra said...

Thank you for putting Clay's entire blog out there. I agree with your breakdown. Clay had every right to expect on his own fanclub, among his own fans, that he could answer questions posed to him and speak his mind. That he is being bashed now for that I just don't understand. He is not the only one to express the same sentiments about Adam and AI as a whole.

Ashes said...

Clay Aiken's words were very clear to me..and breakdown is even clearer. A child would understand this. Do you suppose the media would? LOL.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the breakdown, but I understood his words the first time I read them. It seems some people like to parse Clay Aiken's words to contrive a different meaning. How bored these people must be.

I agree with Clay 100%. AI needs to get with the program and stop trying to bleed America with their Corporate greed. Let the people make up their own mind!


fgs said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Some people can read and understand the whole thing. The media tends to focus on one sentence and forget the rest. Some people get upset over that one sentence and don't read the rest. It's so sad that gossip sites take one part and hype it. Although I have to admit there were a few that posted the whole thing. If they're going to put it out there, that's the least they can do.

fgs said...

Great blog and I believe on the mark. There are so many hateful people out there ready to jump on Clay without the facts. Some only go by a headline. The internet has advantages, but it can also be a very sick place bringing people's negative sides to the surface.

Anonymous said...

I agree, people are just reading the headlines and passing judgment without knowing how the blog originated or why. Also, many sites are saying that Clay hates Adam which we know is not anything like Clay said. However, it wouldn't surprise me if Clay is sick of the Adam/Clay comparisons just because they are both gay. Those have been everywhere--even on his own fan club mb.

ImGranny said...

Great blog! I agree with your interpretation of Clay Aiken's blog and I'm proud of him for speaking his mind. IMO Clay said nothing personally against Adam, just his performance. That's perfectly fine. Everyone doesn't like the same style of music and everyone is entitled to their opinion. Amazing that this caused such a media frenzy! Just goes to show that Clay sure is an interesting fella and a media magnet!