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American Idol 2 Op/Ed: Clay Aiken is The X Factor
By W. Scott Pavone
Jun 18, 2003

Yes, The X Factor that we have heard so much about is being actualized in the likes of Clay Aiken. What is "The X Factor"? It is the intangible quality about someone that makes him or her attractive to us. It's that "certain something" that one possesses that you can't quite put your finger on or put a name to, yet it's very real and present none-the-less.

Well, I have a name for Clay's X Factor; several names, actually: Personality, Charm, Poise, Openness, Sincerity, Genuineness, Talent, and Humbleness. It's in being worldly yet maintaining an air of innocence. Knowing that you're good but not bragging about it. It's in being amazed everyday that everyone is making such a fuss over you and having such manners and grace in the intense light and frenzy of your ever-growing popularity. It's in changing right before our very eyes and transforming yourself from quirky geek to prince charming. It's in being mature enough to take criticism without letting it destroy you and then taking what has been observed and using it to improve yourself constantly for the better; but, it's also being childlike enough to play, have fun, and experiment with your performances, for you do not take yourself so seriously that you won't.

It's in singing to us and making us feel like you are reaching out and touching our very souls with the depth of feeling you convey in your voice. It's in making us feel special, like you are singing just for us even though you are singing for millions. It's in your warm smiling face that just invites us to come closer and get to know you better. You are approachable and willing to share yourself with others, which lends to you a "down home" goodness and casualness that makes us feel comfortable. So much so, that if we invited you to our family picnic, we feel like you might actually show-up. You are the Average, but now Not-So-Average, Joe; The Ultimate Cinderella Story. 

We relish in your success and much deserved recognition. We want to see you go far, to rise high in the realms of stardom, for we know that you will truly appreciate it for what it is, a gift from God to you. And we know, for we have already seen, that you will use your newfound fame and fortune for the good and betterment of those less fortunate. You share your blessings with others in gratitude and we can see that you are thanking God for your blessings in your sharing. 

Yes, it's not really too hard to figure out Clay's "X Factor" at all. What's hard is finding enough words to describe his good qualities or finding a place to stop singing his praises. Is Clay truly the American Idol? Nah. That's actually too limiting. He is much better than that; he is now a Worldwide Sensation and Role Model. And whereas we find ourselves liking today's current stars less-and-less with each new revelation we find out about them, we are oppositely finding ourselves liking Clay more-and-more as he is revealing himself to us, and he is so willing to do so. "Open Arms" should be his signature song, for as he reaches out to us with his open arms we are reaching back in kind. So next time you are trying to define what "X Factor" truly means; you need only think of Clay Aiken, for Clay Aiken truly is the embodiment of "The X Factor".

"Aiken ... showed true star quality. Not only was he a natural onstage, conversing with confidence and glee, but he also commanded the stage." (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

"When Clay started into his hit single, ‘This is the Night,’ the screaming was so loud it drowned out most of his vocals. When he appeared onstage later in the evening wearing a Minnesota Wild hockey shirt – well, our ears are still ringing. ... Clay was the crowd's clear favorite." (Pioneer Press)

"Kimberley Locke finally introduced Rolling Stone cover boy Clay Aiken, whipping the crowd into an ear-bloodying frenzy of Nickelodeon-sculpted screams." (Chicago Sun-Times)

"If there was a winner of this perpetual competition, it was Aiken. While he and Studdard have comparably strong voices... only Aiken has the natural charm to do justice to the 'Idol' mantle. Expect him to steal your heart. ... the evening was all about Aiken and Studdard. When the former appeared on stage, the volume from his screaming fans nearly overwhelmed his voice." (Chicago Tribune)

"Move over Ruben, it's now Clay's show." (Toronto Sun)

"One thing was clear after seeing these kids play live. While Ruben Studdard was likely voted American Idol fair and square, the people's Idol is, without a doubt, Clay Aiken." (chartattack.com)

Something huge is happening here, and it goes way beyond the work of a few obsessed fans. As one journalist put it, "Clay Aiken is an over-the-top, smash-one-out-of-the-park, big-as-Elvis superstar sensation. The planet, it seems, can not get enough of the genial, mop-topped American Idol runner up."

My wife and I just love Clay! He is truly the American Idol. The whole Ruben
                                  thing was a joke the producers pulled on America. Real funny Fox!

-Ken G. ( A Harley Davidson-riding machinist)

[Webmaster's note:  Let's hear it for straight, macho men who love Clay!]


We are listening, God.  You have our full attention now.  Life seems full of wake-up calls lately and shadowed by fear.  Gone are the bucolic days of exploring this world blissfully ignorant of the evil that lurks.  We understand now.  We did it ourselves.  Somehow we created this environment and let this evil grow in our midst.  We were so busy with this hectic pace that we forgot to look out for each other.  There is only one place to start and that’s here with ourselves.  Our own doorstep needs fixing and cleaning and our children need to see the good of our hearts out there again.  Each of us needs to be a beacon of light in this darkness to guide the lost back to the beauty.  .  But you have not abandoned us, God.  The sun still shines brightly in the morning and your grace still lives in our hearts, we just lost our way a bit.  I just wanted to thank you today for the messenger in the darkness. . . for the voice that goes not unnoticed and the hope it brings with it for the kindness of the future.  I see it happening slowly around me and it brings peace to my heart. 
 Thank you, God, for this day of light, for this moment of peace and thank you, God . . . for Clay.

- Morgan Rowan

Ghostposting for Clayshel who quotes this from Todd Venice posted on Bolt: Quote: 

Everyone knows by now I am a huge Clay Aiken fan. I admire his heart, his talent, and his ambition. But, I confess I never understoond the sexiness part or the full thudworthiness of Clay. I guess because I am a guy, was only willing to go so far. 

Well, last night I watched the St. Louis "air drums" video. My first reaction was how adorkable. But then I watched it again. I saw it. I saw "the look". I am not sure Clay knew he was on camera, but I swear I saw it. I was convinced that "the look" was part of his makeover and he was just playing to the camera. Well...Um...apparently it is not. This realization has forced me to throw caution to the wind and make the following statement. 

As a proud life long heterosexual male I proclaim that Clay Aiken, you are the cutest, most adorable, and dare I say sexiest guy I have ever seen. 

Girls, I am not sure how you can look at him without dying right there on the spot. 



A little about myself: I'm a 54 year old married male. I have four grown girls. Two are married and I'm a Grandfather 3 times. 

Up until I first heard Clay sing on AI2, (I watched all the shows from the very beginning) I had never been star struck with any particular singer. When I was growing up in the 60's I really liked certain rock singers and/or groups, but no one has affected me the way Clay has. The first time I heard him sing on AI2, I looked to my wife and said; "This guy is amazing, he should win the title." She whole heartly agreed.

We both watched as this skinny kid from NC, turned into a very attactive and grew from a very good singer to the best we have heard in as long as we can remember. Sure, he sang well in his first audition, but as he progressed through the show, he seemed to grow as a singer/performer right before our eyes.

My wife and I both think Ruben is a good singer, just not a great one. He just doesn't have the voice or charisma that Clay has. In fact, we felt Ruben should have been voted off for his performance on one of the last shows. The night Ruben was placed in the bottom three, that is the night we felt he should have been voted off. His voice sounded strained, tired and raspy the night before.

We were just so sure that Clay was going to win the title of American Idol. When he didn't, we were very dissappointed. But, we now know that Clay, with all his great talent and his wonderful personallity, will become the superstar that we new he could. He has taken the music industry by storm, and yet some of the blue suites just don't yet get it. But, when his new CD becomes one of the best sellers in recent memory, they no doubt will then realize what we Clay fans already know.

When Clay sings, most of the time I get tears in my eyes. He affects me in a very emotional way. In all my life, no singer (female or male) has affected me the way Clay has. His voice just touches my soul. In my opinion, he is one the greatest singers of my generation.

Not only is Clay a great singer, but he's also a great person as well. He appears to be a great family man, loves and respects his mother and has such a feeling for children with dissabilities. I have no doubt that he will make a special woman very happy someday.

Clay has done more (and I'm ashamed to admit it) for children than I ever have (apart for my own). Sure, I have donated money to charites, but have never donated my time as Clay has done. He has such a big heart.

It's a shame that the producers of AI and 19 Entertainment had no idea (I still don't think they get it) what a talent they had on there hands with Clay. Every week he sang like an Angel and garnered more and more fans (many more than Ruben, which I have no doubt).

In my opinion, Clay will one day (and very soon) will get the recognision he truly deserves from the music industry. If the 5 recent songs, recently released on the Internet, are any indication of what his new CD will be like, I predict that in 2004, OMC will sweep the Grammy's. He will (or should at least), when a Grammy for best new male artist. He also most likely will win a Grammy for his CD as album of the year, and possibly a Grammy for best song of the year (possibley Solitare).

I'm very proud to call myself an ardent Clay Aiken fan. I'm also very excited for all the wonderful music I have to look forward too from this incredible talent by the name of Clay Aiken.

"eddyj"  from the Clayboard


Morgan Rowan
-from a message board

The Mystery that is Clay Aiken. . .

     It was not long ago that the world as we knew it was shaken to its very core. We hugged our babies and cried for all of the human race. Somehow, we believed most of the good people must had left this earth and all that remained were sad excuses for human beings that wished us dead. We felt violated and without hope. We cried ourselves to sleep wishing we had never brought children into this darkened future. And then one day the clouds started to break up and drift away and out of the lingering smoke of Columbine and the horrible gray dust cloud of 9/11 a voice seemed to fill the room with joy and there beneath that incredible voice unfolded an enigma of innocence and hope named Clay Aiken. He restored our hope for our children's futures. He made us believe again in the warmth and compassion of mankind. His pixie-like smile brought light to the dark places of our hearts and we found we could laugh and smile and reach out to each other again. 
     How could you not fall in love with someone who gave you such a priceless gift. How can you not be mesmerized by the spell he casts. Clay Aiken's voice is the rebirth of hope for the future of this planet. And for this we will bask in the glow of his warmth and find a way to thank him with our love and support. . .


"Stop caring so much what the world expects of you as  " older women " and acknowledge that you are forever 16 behind your eyes and inside of your heart.  What safer place to place your fantasies than a 24 year old fundamentalist Christian who is surrounded by body guards !!!! .....  Just let go and have fun with it." 


From a Message Board:

Male perspective on Clay's "X" factor
Topic:  My Thoughts on Clay Aikenmguffey5
Jul 19 2003 10:47PM

After being on this board for the past 2 months and making a lot of new friends, and reading their posts about Clay. I've decided to post my thoughts on Clay Aiken.
So being from the Male side of the forum which is quite smaller than the female side, I hope this provides a perspective on how we Male Clay Aiken fans feel about him, and I am speaking for myself on this.
There really are no words that I can use to describe how Clay has affected me so much, but I will give it a try. I've read a lot of people's posts that talk about his X-Factor and what "IT" is that Clay has that nobody can figure out. Well I'm not here to debate that because I do believe that he does have the X-Factor and whatever "IT" is.
Clay has not just given you ladies something to talk about and swoon over, he has also given his Male fans something to ponder. Everyday I wake up with a sense of purpose that I don't think I had before I saw Clay or heard him sing, atleast I don't think I had it. I would go from day-to-day, working, eating, and sleeping, and not really paying attention to the world beyond my own little space. But when I heard Clay sing for the first time at the Atlanta audition it stirred something within me, I didn't realize it at the time but now I know that he stirred my soul to its deapest core. I have never had that happen to me before. Some of you have read my previous post a few weeks ago called Thank-you Clay, where I stated after hearing him sing, Blood Will Never Loose It's Power, and In Not Of, I went back to Church after 15 years away, and felt whole again.
Everytime I hear Clay sing, it doesn't matter what song, he has such a beautiful voice that get chocked up, and I wonder why Clay, why now? Then it dawns on me being in the Military and seeing all that is going on in todays world, I believe God sent Clay at this time, and place to give us hope, and Faith that he still loves us. To me Clay's voice is that of an angel, although I don't know what a true angels voice sounds like, I would like to believe that Clay's voice would be one.
Everytime I hear Clay speak, and he is not afraid to say what he means, or tell people that it is none of their business, I swell up with Pride, I don't know why that is. But everytime I hear or see him, he makes me want to be a better Man. So here is where I add my tidbit on his CD title. Us Men out there should look at Clay Aiken and see the TRUE Measure of Man and strive to be more like him in our daily lives, he is what we should be, and I am striving for that yesterday, today, tomorrow, and into the future. He has made me look within myself and find the person I was hiding.
Clay's "X-Factor" - What is it? Nobody really knows, but I believe he has it, like everbody else. For some people, it can be his Sex appeal, for others, his voice, and still others his Faith. Well I belive it is a combination of all of those things plus others to include Family & Friends. 
Clay has stirred something within the Soul of America and made us sit up and listen, and take a good look at ourselves, somethings we've found we didn't like, others we found we had and didn't realize. Some of those things we don't like, is the racist card that is played sometimes between Clay and Ruben, which is completely ridiclious, and another is the competition that some people keep trying to push, when they both have said there is no competition, they are both happy for each other, and I am happy for them both. Things that we've found that we didn't realize we had are the power to make record company executives listen to the fans!! Being able to come together on the internet as a "Family" where all of us can enjoy and talk about Clay and hopefully not be bashed for our opinions. The power to influence Radio stations, albeit slowly, but we are doing it.
I don't recall in my short 29 years of existence that a new artist has been compared to the likes of the Beatles, Elvis, and Frank Sinatra. There is something very special about this young man, everday I find myself pondering the Question, What is it about Clay Aiken that has attracted all of us to gather together in Friendship and talk, share, rejoice, and sometimes cry for or about him? I have yet to come up with a clear and distinct answer to this question. But like I've said before here are some of the things that I've noticed:
1. Charisma
2. Voice
3. Passionate
4. Faith - Spiritual
5. Compassion
6. Warmth
7. Humor
8. Love
9. Strength
10. Witty
11. Human
12. Patient
13. Confident
14. Sincere
15. Truthful
16. Loveable
17. Down Home
18. Awesome
19. Inspirational
20. Friendly

Clay has such an aura about him that he draws people in and makes them comfortable being around him, It amazes me to this day, I have never seen anything like it. One final thought I'm sitting here listening to Clay sing "She Said Yes", and the one line I keep thinking of is "They lit a Flame with the Match God had Made", and I have this to say, "Clay lit a Flame with the Match God had Made when he opened his Mouth to Sing", and that Flame will never fade.



Beavers On Idol

American Idol: A New Breed of Fans for a New Breed of Star
by LWLHD Committee (2003/07/17)

The New Breed of Fan

There’s a new breed of American fans out there. To borrow a phrase, a softer, gentler breed . These are the fans who don’t grab the media’s attention because they don’t make splashy sound bites. You won’t see them clamoring for autographs or jumping in front of studio cameras or pushing through the red carpet line. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have noticed them at all if they hadn’t multiplied by the hundreds of thousands, behind the meteoric rise to fame of American Idol star and Billboard chart topper Clay Aiken.

Somehow Clay Aiken attracts the kind of fan who doesn’t really like the label “fan.” Many of the people buying Clay’s singles and requesting airplay for his songs have never before belonged to a fan club. They are themselves somewhat perplexed by their fascination with the young singer from North Carolina . 

Scratch almost any Clay Aiken internet fan club, and you won’t find the homogenous, frenzied, teenaged pack you’d expect. The tweenies are there, of course, but they’re joined by an older, steadier crowd who has helped put Clay over the top because their own brand of fervor is backed by their pocketbooks.

*If you enter a Clay internet message board, you could find yourself exchanging messages with folks who have Masters degrees, who run their own businesses, who are up for partnership at their firm. Sometimes you have to pry that information out of them—they still haven’t quite convinced themselves that there isn’t something unseemly about adoring a 24-year old pop star. 

But as you talk, you discover this brand of adoration isn’t much like the usual fan club fawning over a star’s eye color or love life. There’s a little more to it. People are talking about Clay because of who he is beneath the stage makeup and newly-spiked locks. Why the fascination?

New Breed of Star

Clay's explosive rise to fame confounded accepted industry wisdom about what America wants in a “pop star.” Why did the first single from a relative unknown sell more units its first week than those of any recording star other than the venerable Elton John, whose single “Candle in the Wind” was a tribute to the immensely popular Princess Diana?

Yes, Clay does have a tremendous set of pipes. But, honestly, so do a lot of other people the media never says boo to. And, yes, he’s easy on the eyes. But in the entertainment industry, personal trainers and the magic scalpel guarantee that a pretty face is no rare commodity. And winsome personality? Sure. Clay’s got that in spades. As do a lot of other celebrities—or, shall we at least submit that projecting charisma on Leno is second-nature for most in Tinseltown. So how did Clay Aiken get picked up on the radar screen like an incoming missile?

Let’s pull out an old-fashioned word: character. Your character is the genuine, guileless you. The you that decides what’s most important in your life and pursues it, consciously or unconsciously And if you’re an artist, your character—your heart, your soul, your intentions, your dreams-- is what distinguishes your art from the art of others. 

*Why is it when Clay Aiken sings, jaws drop? Because his character and personality well up and out of his throat in a way that turns his amazing range, tone, and near-perfect pitch into a sound that transcends technique. It’s a sound that raises goose bumps. It’s a sound coming from somewhere deep inside Clay. And people don’t forget it. 

Clay's character is what makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Something shines above and beyond his good looks and raw talent. Something pulls it all together into a whole that rises enough above the rest of the pack that we sit up and take notice. It’s Clay's character that propels him uniquely apart from the generic, pouty-lipped pop stars the music industry hands us with a knife and fork.

Traditionally, the music industry dictates what’s “cool” and we nod happily and run out to spend our money on it. Sit in at an industry board meeting while they map out the schema for their next star-in-the-making. Do you really think you’d hear them suggest the next big thing will come in the shape of a 24-year old who says grace in public restaurants, who never swears, and who refuses to drink alcohol in public? All of which Clay Aiken does. Or do you think they’d propose the star-to-be de-emphasize his entertainment career by stating that he’s only doing this for a few years before returning to a teaching job? Which Clay has also done.

Music industry types might not have chosen Clay Aiken as the arbiter of “cool” for their star-making machine, but, by sticking to his guns, Clay has managed to redefine cool. Clay is going to follow his own moral compass no matter what you think. And it doesn’t really matter if Clay’s beliefs and actions are ones you yourself would choose. Living inside your own convictions, without apology, without concern for others’ opinions, is perhaps the coolest thing of all. And it’s also, without doubt, one of the most attractive traits an individual can possess. Good bone structure and a nice set of pipes can’t even touch the sheer force of a steady self-assurance.

Where Star and Fans Meet

So it only makes sense that a pop star who breaks the mold will engender mold-breaking fans as well. Clay’s got character. He stands for things. And Clay’s fans, that new breed, want to stand for things too. 

Here’s an example. Clay has stated publicly that he wants to use his celebrityhood to raise public awareness of a cause close to his heart: helping children with autism. So what do his fans do? They organize bake sales and car washes and donation drives to raise funds for their local autism societies. They set up web sites and non-profit associations to bring attention and money to autism support services. That’s work. That’s a little more than buying posters or concert tickets.

If you talk to these fans, many will tell you that Clay first caught their eye because of his undeniable talent. But Clay stayed in their sights as little parts of his character trickled out into the media. The fans point out that Clay—who has been handed more instant fame and money than most of us can even imagine—said the first thing he’ll do with his money is open a foundation for autism. And this is not idle talk: foundation setup is under way. 

Many fans assert this young man from North Carolina has re-ignited their own ideals, which had somehow gotten lost under the shuffle of job, marriage, and children. In some way that’s still not entirely clear, Clay has struck a chord. And, to judge by record sales, hundreds of thousands of people are responding.

So we’re left with a new breed of fans for a new breed of star. If you push one of these new fans hard enough, you’ll probably get an abashed admission that, yes, as a matter of fact, Clay is pretty darn hot. Wanting to do good works doesn’t preclude wanting a hug or a five-minute conversation with Clay. But just as Clay refuses to view himself as a pop icon, so does this new breed refuse to treat him as a commodity that must be shared with any stranger who asks. These fans prefer to honor Clay without hounding him for attention or pushing themselves into the spotlight alongside him. 

Clay Aiken, by remaining true to his character and his passions, demands a respect we would much less likely give any prefab, impossibly cool, pop-star product doled out to us by the music industry. And so these new fans step back from the autograph line, step towards non-profit work, and make room for the young singer who has reminded them of what matters most in their lives and their world.


From a message board
July 21/03

Here are my thoughts on the Cleveland (American Idol) concert. I am not going to repeat what has already been posted but I do have some other observations. Also please keep in mind I am a guy so if I don't talk about Clay being sexy you will know why....lol.

Let me start off by saying Cleveland was mentioned and represented well by the idols......Charles was in Cleveland attire all evening...Ruben wore a Cleveland Indians baseball cap all the time....and, of course Clay wore a Cleveland Indians jersey with "Aiken" 03 on the back during "Invisible". All the idols yelled and screamed "Cleveland" several times some in between their song lyrics especially Ricky and Charles.

It was definitely a Clay crowd...... for every Ruben fan there must have been 100 Clay fans. I don't think I am exaggerating at all! As far as signs...tons and tons of Clay signs everywhere, a few Ruben's in the stands and floor and a trace for the others mostly from the floor seats. I really believe this is why the crowd may have been a little more quiet as the majority was there to see Clay so it was only loud when he was performing.....just my observation.

Ok, on to Clay.....what can I say? This man commanded the stage..took charge and connected with the crowd better than any of the others. He is the one who told the man dressed as Carmen to come up on stage, he is the one who lead Ruben through the panties and underwear part. He even put on the underwear! He is the one that told them to put up the lights and take them down. He was so natural as if he has been doing this for a lot longer than he really has. He thanked the crowd over and over again for putting, not only him, but all the idols where they are today. he was always ad libbing with the fans.
He continually gave up the spotlight for the other performers...never hogged the stage at all. He also made a point to come over to Charles at the very end and raise his hand so that he could be acknowledged one more time by his hometown crowd. I saw him whispering to some of others before he did this...my guess is no one else took up the initiative to do it so he walked over and did it!
I forgot to mention Clay's voice is awesome we all know that but to hear it live is just incredible!

Clay was definitely who people wanted to see and they were not disappointed!

Captured on Todd Vincent's "Everything Clay Aiken" board

I don't care if Clay is gay, straight, neutered or hung like a horse. 

I don't care if he is liberal, conservative or communist. 
If he hates cats, dogs, foreign cars or babies, it is of no concern to me. Allergic to half the food pyramid? So what?

Buys all his clothes at JCPenney? Who cares?
I don't care if uses a flat iron or a waffle iron on his hair, or if it's dyed, permed, braided or duct taped.

Loose pants? Tight pants? Striped shirts? No shirts? Shoes? Sandals? Whatever.

Feet, fingers, ass, thighs, eyes, lashes, ears, tummy...all just body parts. Pleasant to look at, but I can take or leave.

I don't care what the "cool" people, or the "hip" people think of me for loving Clay. It's irrelevant.

What I do care about, with the blazing passion of a million suns, is that the man can sing his ass off. 

Listening to Clay sing is like standing naked on a rock under a waterfall, his voice sliding lazily over you like cool water on a hot day. 

It's true, I'm selfish. I will always support Clay and his singing career because I want him to sing for me forever and a day.

                                                              author user name:  "Sister"

From a message board
Author/Date unknown

Think back if you can, over the span of your life and try to remember any single performer or musical group that caused so many people of all ages to stop dead in their tracks and listen. I've thought long and hard about this, I am pretty knowledgeable about all kinds of music and I couldn't come up with ANYONE!

Some new performers catch the teen and pre-teen market. Some appeal to just young men with angry attitudes, some catch attention of the 20 something's who go to clubs, many appeal to all three. Then there is music for the forgotten market of the "older, more mature" buyers. Many of us stick with classic rock or music from our youths because there is little out there that we like. If you’re 40 and older your just about completely forgotten about in the minds of many in the music business today. They just don't think you'll buy the music so not much time or effort is spent trying to convince you to.

Then there was Clay.

By doing nothing more than trying his best to win a singing contest-gracing us with his amazing voice and stellar performances each week, buy being just himself he single-handedly changed the face of the music buying public and the radio listening public. Clay literally has fans as young as toddlers and as old as people in their 90's and everyone in between! I have been amazed at the ages of some of the fans that have been so taken with all things Clay, both male and female.

He appeals to kids and parents at the same time-how the heck did that happen? A rare thing indeed! They've been fighting over music since the inception of music. Typically in parents eyes of a modern society, the next best thing is usually their worst nightmare-they feel they will either have to suffer through listening with their kids or ban some inappropriate things all together.

Then there was Clay.

He has many women of all ages unabashedly swooning over him and men wanting to be his best bud(mostly to take advantage of Clay's ability to attract women who swoon over him!) Guys seem to admire him for the same qualities that women do(besides his awe-inspiring voice)-his character, his sharp wit, his sometimes sarcastic sense of humor, his humbleness, love for children, his positive attitude and on and on it goes.

Grannies, daughters and granddaughters all have a crush (to different degrees) on the same guy at the same time. Has this EVER happened before? Sure, people will try to say this happened with Elvis but it didn't happen for him until he had been in the business for a while. Kids are the one's who discovered Elvis-parents were not amused. Years later Elvis has a following with a widely ranging fan base. 

Again, think about it, think hard but I don't think you will have an answer unless it's...

Then there was Clay.

Because of him these older fans out going out and spending money hand over fist, adult women are buying teen mags, just to get a new picture of Clay, or to read a new article-put Clay on it or in it and it's a surefire big seller. Many have bought their first cd's in years, they are listening to (and wading through) songs on the radio just for a chance to hear Clay. People talk about him with such passion and conviction to their friends that many of them have become fans as well. It's like this massive groundswell, a tidal wave of good feeling for music again. What we naturally do when we love someone is to share in the things that make us happy. Clay makes us happy so we tell two friends, then they tell two friends and so on, and so on.

All of this has happened for a reason. The exciting thing is this is only the first chapter. Hopefully, Clay's enormous success will open the doors for other talented people that have a positive message to their music. We'll just have to wait and see how it all unfolds.

From a message board

Ok, I admit, I have watched the "Invisible" (concert) video about 50 times now in the last few days (maybe an exaggeration, but not by much, lol) and I've been giving some thought to Clay's newfound MOJO and his ability to drive us even more wild than usual.

Someone was saying yesterday that they want to see him perform this song shirtless and a bunch of people jumped on that bandwagon pretty quickly! lol
I don't know if people were serious or not, but here is my take on it.

I think Clay is sexy BECAUSE he keeps his clothes on. Think back to when we first saw that People mag. pic of Clay on the bathroom floor--we were all so excited about that picture because we actually got to see his arms (lol). Sure, arms are a pretty average, everyday thing for most people to reveal but up until that point, Clay had not so we LOVED it. Of course it was more than that, the photographer took a great shot and that tiny crooked smile Clay had on his face knocked us for a loop.

Then, we have the Rolling Stone pic, I think it hit many of us like a bolt of lightning because we were SHOCKED that Clay had not only unbuttoned another button(I had been pining away all season for just a bit of clavicle,LOL)but he actually revealed a few inches of tummy-now known as "Clay's Yummy Tummy-the topic that launched a million internet discussions". Many of us had thought he was sexy all along but come on, were only human! LOL 

Now that picture was positively PG-rated as far as Rolling Stone goes but for Clay, I think it was quite a big deal. We all know he is modest and we appreciated that about him. In my opinion that picture is very sexy and edgy for Clay and it's more appealing to me because he is still left as a mystery. He reveals a little tease but leaves it up to your imagination. 

Now, he has progressed to whipping us up into a frenzy over his "Invisible" performance. The song itself and his delivery of it are awesome--he is so confident and he just oozes charisma, magnetism and sex appeal--all while remaining completely covered up! Then , when he sings the line "gonna make you mine tonight" he does that move, the shirt tug with the hip swivel that has finally sent us off the deep end! He reveals nothing, no skin whatsoever yet we all feel like we could physically FEEL IT when he makes that "oh so sexy" move.

Why is that? I think it's because of the mere suggestion in both his voice and he sure is reminding us how much we love that tummy.lol

I guess what I'm trying to say is this--he is sexy to me because he remains a mystery, he doesn't reveal much skin but he leaves it to our own active imaginations to fill in the blanks. This is extremely sexy tome and I daresay there isn't another singer out there that can elicit such a frenzied response from women by remaining completely clothed. He's got his MOJO working big time and we're eating it up with a spoon.

I like the tease, I like the mystery AND I'm thoroughly enjoying the workout for my over-active imagination. It does a body good. 

Ah, yet another reason to love Clay. 

Here's another funny one from Nicmike at TTC:

July 24, 2003

Dear Clay,

Well, it’s been over a week since the tour launched. The reviews have been spectacular. Nice work. 
We know that you are busy and not really getting much chance to sleep or anything, but it is hard to believe that you don’t check your fan boards at least occasionally. (You don’t have to be more than a teeny, tiny bit egomaniacal to want to know what people are saying about you. Plus, what self-respecting, self-proclaimed nerd wouldn’t be online?) So, on the off chance that you will be checking in here today on your day off, I’d like to give you an update of the past week and a half here in Clayworld (Yeah, I still don’t really understand why your name has to become every part of speech, but it’s become a tradition)…

Platinum. Love it! Congratulations and you’re welcome! 

The concert. Those of us who have seen it loved you. Those of us who will be seeing it are looking forward to loving you. Those of us who can’t see it are shooting ourselves in the head and obsessively asking themselves why they aren’t lucky enough to have the chance to love you.

The panties. Yeah, you knew someone would bring it up. Some of us have been overly worried about your reaction to the panties. Some parts of the group feel you were prompting people to throw them, others believe you find underwear icky (especially since you don’t wear traditional ones yourself). Others (and to be honest, I’m in this group) think the whole thing is just funny. Well? What do you think?

While we’re on the topic…any requests? Is there a particular type of undergarment you’d like to seen thrown next? We aim to please. Or at least we aim. We know – just make sure it is something soft and clean. Gotcha.

The Pop Tart/Tampax preshow. Rumor has it the Pop Tarts spin on screen. Some of us wonder why the Tampax don’t spin as well. Not to worry, we still love you even if this oversight isn’t handled. The frozen chocolate poptart idea is a bad one. (People have tried it. We’re like lemmings I tell you! No, no one has tried freezing Tampax.) Many of your more loyal fans are boycotting the chocolate poptarts altogether in honor of your chocolate allergy. Sorry, I’m not that loyal. 

The program. Just a note from me and only me…spell “thanks” with a “k.” I’m an English teacher – creative spelling causes sirens to go off in my brain, making it harder for me to hear you sing.

Dirty dancing on stage. There’s a BIG debate as to whether Jesus would dance on stage like that. (I guess we skipped right over the “would Jesus be a rock star in the first place” debate.) Most of us like that you are dancing. Everyone thinks you are doing a good job of it. No one wants to see you that close to either Carmen or Julia ever again. Stop it now. Thank you.

“Invisible.” Everyone likes you singing it. No one likes that some pseudo-angsty boy band sings it in the UK (Yes, we've seen their website. Many times...) We’re a little torn over the creepy, stalker lyrics. (I am having fits over "If I was..." It should be "were." Again, the sirens.) At any rate – we’ll buy it. (Lemmings!)

The clutch/claw. Yes, everyone loves you grabbing your shirt during “Invisible.” Keep that part of the choreography in. May we humbly suggest you add more and maybe raise your shirt higher? We love you all angsty (show those UK boys how it is done) and a little glimpse of tummy is never a bad thing. (Besides, I’ve seen pictures of Jesus shirtless.)

Backstage passes. Ok. Why does it seem that EVERYONE is getting backstage? I’m going to see James Taylor in concert in a few weeks and don’t think I have a snowball’s chance in Hades of getting backstage to see him. I’ll be seeing you next Wednesday (Cleveland Rocks!) and have a feeling that I could actually take you out for coffee or a beer (or something you actually would/could drink.) It just seems strange…

Michelle Branch and P. Diddy – we don’t think you should date either of these people. While some of us love Puffy and think he was respectful on TRL, no one likes Carson and everyone pretty much hates Michelle.

The video. We can’t wait. Everyone is hoping that the orange makeup (and makeup up your nose) was necessary. We like the bare feet. We like the jeans. We like nearly everything. The things we don’t like we will learn to like. Just get it released. 

Measure of a Man. Yeah, we all bought it. We bought it before it had a name. We like the title, but who are we kidding? You could have named it “White Boy on Fire” and no one would have cared. I’m glad it has a name, though. I feel a little less freakish. Now when is the release date?

Signs. Every person going to the concert is racking his/her brain to come up with something to get your attention. Mine will either say, “Clay Aiken. The other white meat” or “Got Panties?” (I’m not that creative.) Look for me, okay?

Signs – Part II. There’s been much speculation as to whether you read these boards. Many fans believe that you are giving “signals” to us that you read what we write. I think the supposed “signs” are way too subtle. May I suggest you try to include one of the following clues…
“Hey, internet people!”
“I was reading an internet board about me the other day…”
Or if you want to be more "secret agent" about it...
“When James Taylor and I were drinking coffee…” or
(my favorite) “I am the other white meat.” 

I hope this recap was helpful. This board moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it. (Bonus points to whomever can name where the previous sentence comes from...)Try to get some sleep and take care. Let me know about the coffee/whatever. Oh – and rock on. 

Until Cleveland…

Sent: 7/24/2003 7:02 PM 
Here's another funny one from Nicmike at TTC:

July 24, 2003

Dear Clay,
Hope life is well on the road. We’ve been getting tour updates from Claymates (again, I’m not sure about the “Clay” as all parts of speech thing, but I’ll go with it.) Despite that you’re probably exhausted by this point -- you have not disappointed a single city. Way to go. 

I thought you might enjoy another recap on your day off of what has been happening here on the Internet with all of your fans. You must read some of this stuff, right? 

“Crazy Like a Clay Fan.” Hmmm… this topic is a tough one. Those of us who heard the interview with the obnoxious guy in Jacksonville (I will not print his name as he, along with Michelle Branch (?), has most likely received plenty of hate email already) realize that you didn’t really call us crazy. It just sounded that way. Please try to not put “crazy” and “fan” in the same sentence again. While some of us will own up the the fact that following a 24 year old singer’s every move and pre-ordering albums that haven’t been officially titled is a little crazy, the rest of us need to come to the realization on our own. Clay, you shouldn’t taunt us crazy people…it only makes us depressed…and depressed people don’t shop or pre-order. Enough said. We still love you. (One moment please while I stop to take my meds…)

Girlfriends. Yes, like the panties last week, you knew I would have to bring up the “ex-girlfriend” radio discussion. As a group were torn about the whole issue. We want to see you happy. We want to see you in love. We have a morbid fascination with your personal life. BUT…it would probably be best that you think of us the way you might think of an ex-girfriend. We want to know that you have moved on with your life and hear every detail about your next girlfriend, but once we get this information it makes us a little sad…Maybe, since you seem like such a sweet and sensitive guy, you could spare our feelings a little and try not to bring it up. Thanks. By the way, my husband, for some strange reason, has a few girls he’d like to set you up with… 

Publicists. Ok – as I said before, I am an English teacher. As a result, I have NO idea what a publicist actually does. I know that you have three of them though. Can I be the fourth? I’m not sure that I would be good at it, but I am sure I could manage booking you for interviews with racist, “high school,” baiting disc jockeys like the one you spoke with in Jacksonville. So offer me a job – or maybe you should fire the person who actually did book that interview. Just a thought…

Heaven. There was a long thread on one board about people who say they will meet you in heaven. Not to worry – they meant after your natural life span was spent here on earth. We all like that you are spiritual. I’m a little upset because I was raised Catholic and will probably end up in purgatory. Do you think you could send me a postcard or something? You’re such a good guy.

WWJD part II. Ok, in a letter to the editor at Rolling Stone someone wrote that Jesus wouldn’t have put you on the cover. Who thinks Jesus would work for Rolling Stone in the first place? It makes me wonder why we always seem to skip the first part of the Jesus debate.

UNCC Graduate? Everyone is pleased that you might finish your bachelor’s degree in December. (I am thrilled – I was afraid you would have to get a horrid “honorary degree.” In my world those don’t count.) And as much as I hate that you are using my REAL career is your fallback, I’m okay with it because secretly being a pop star is my backup career. I know, good thing the whole English teaching thing is panning out for me, huh? Hey, I’ll even send you $20 as a graduation gift, which is big because I am cheap.

A few petty gripes. Last time I nagged about your misspelling of “Thanks.” This time I want to ask that you NOT wear Ruben’s pants ever again. I know some people loved it, but it’s not really my kind of humor…just saying…

Favorite threads of the week. On CA.com – will more people start naming their baby boys Clay? My thoughts? Not if the husbands have any say in the matter! In another thread, we’ve decided you have “masculine,” flexible knees. No, I have no idea what that means. Yes, I guess it could mean that we need a hobby. On TTC – what will you be doing in 20 years…good question… Have you ever considered running for the Senate? No, me neither. I'm planning on being a pop star...

Claynadians. They are very happy that you stopped by. (I’m a little surprised that you all sang “God Bless the U.S.A.” there. And yes, I blame the publicists again.) Good thing Canada is so nice. They didn’t seem to mind. I hear rumor that they tried to get customs to not let you out of the country. Too bad you are ours. Nanny, nanny, ha, ha! 

CLEVELAND! Great job! Yes, I was at the show. Did you see me? I was wearing red…I understand why you didn’t say you were “the other white meat” or any of the other codes we set up. (Yes, I blame your publicists.) I was a little sad that you did not let me take you out for coffee/beer/something you’d actually imbibe afterward like I offered last week. Carmen, Julia and I had a great time though. Please don’t believe them when they say I threatened them about dancing with you. I wasn’t -- that -- serious. Besides, I was all hyped up on Pop Tarts – I swear…you have no idea what sugar can do to a girl…

Rumors about your being/doing <fill in the blank>. Yeah, not to worry. We’re too crazy to believe any of them anyway. You had us at, “I’m the next American Idol.” (movie allusion bonus points of the week for this one –I know – too easy!)

Have a great day off (as if you really get any of those.) We hope you get some rest. Oh, and eating a few of those Pop Tarts they give away wouldn’t kill you. Wait -- maybe they would -- I think they're chocolate. Ok -- skip the Pop Tarts but eat SOMETHING! You looked great on stage, really – but thin. Take care…

P.S. I won’t tell anyone it was actually me you kissed in Cleveland…it’ll be our secret… 


July 27, 2003

"He is for all the world an innocent child most of the time - giggling, insecure, clowning and then he suddenly becomes a man right in front of your eyes.  It makes the mother in us come screaming out !!!!"  But then he goes and throws confusion into the mix by having so much sex appeal!!  That sends up red flags that make women feel that their reactions are  innappropriate- but both the "mother attraction"and the "sexual attraction" are so strong that he keeps us hooked and confused! "
 From a message board


A friend of Clay's from School....

"Music was never really Clayton’s first career choice, however. He wanted to be a journalist, then a politician, then a teacher. "...Clayton Grissom

I am including the whole article in case you guys never saw it...it's really great!!

Clay still Clayton despite ‘Idol’ changes 

BY GEOFFREY GRAYBEAL : The Herald-Sunggraybeal@heraldsun.comMay 20, 2003 : 10:24 pm ET DURHAM -- 

I don’t really know Clay Aiken. But I remember Clayton Grissom quite well, since he was one of my best friends at Leesville Road middle and high schools. Although mutual friends have kept me informed of his latest happenings, we’ve lost touch somewhat over the years though I still consider him a friend. The past few months, watching that friend of 12 years, Clayton Grissom, transform into "American Idol" finalist Clay Aiken has been surreal. A few years ago, Clayton legally changed his name, taking his mother’s maiden name as a way to honor her. 

Best I can tell, he dropped the "ton" to sound cooler for the contest. As a legion of fans has emerged for the talented singer, and women young and old swoon over the emerging star, I just smile. All these Claymates. All this attention. All for Clayton. The same Clayton who was co-copy editor of the middle school yearbook with me. Then, I click on the TV. There’s super gorgeous model/actress Brooke Burke melting as Clay sings "Unchained Melody." 

The same Clayton who as a middle-school student helped teach gym class to elementary school students for an hour a day. Back on the tube, there’s Clay on "Oprah." The same Clayton who was a broadcast journalist in the middle school’s first student newscast, WLMS. I hop on the World Wide Web. Click. Clay face adorns countless magazines, newspapers and fan Web sites across the world And I think back to Clayton who in 1997 brought the crowd at a packed Raleigh Memorial Auditorium to its feet during Wake County schools’ annual arts showcase "Pieces of Gold." 

I check my e-mail. There’s a photo from a friend. It’s Clay re-united in Hollywood with four high school friends who made the trip to watch him live. The same Clayton who often served as a designated driver for those very friends and others after parties. These are a few of the memories I have. This is the Clayton I know. There have been some slight changes, of course, but Clay is still Clayton. That same self-confidence is there. Clayton believes he can accomplish anything and then sets out to do it. 

Don’t believe me? Listen to his first "Idol" audition in Atlanta where judge Simon Cowell asks him why he’s here. Clayton’s response? "I’m the American Idol." When asked if he saw the first show, Clayton, then-contestant No. 5230, boldly declares that talent-wise he easily could have been in the top 10. 

hough few would have agreed at the time, my how right he was. For many years, music has been a big part of who Clayton is. He has used that amazing God-given talent to perform whether it was in the school chorus or belting out the national anthem at Dorton Arena for the now-defunct minor league hockey team, the Raleigh IceCaps. 

Music was never really Clayton’s first career choice, however. He wanted to be a journalist, then a politician, then a teacher. Although his career goals have changed over the years, the determination has remained with each pursuit. 

On "Idol", however, Clay seemed somewhat muted at first. The Clayton I know would have had a sharp-tongued reply for some of the harsh criticism from brutally honest judge Cowell. Clay(ton)’s sarcasm, wit and sense of humor seems to still be intact. Remember the Ford commercial where all the Idol contestants are pimped out except Clay at first. Aside from the Alfalfa part, the red-haired bespectacled goofy looking dork that emerged is Clayton. That’s Clay spoofing Clayton. Priceless!! 

Obviously, the look has changed the most. Clayton has gone Hollywood. The glasses are no more. The spiked morning hair look a la host Ryan Secrest is the new ’do. Stylin’. Profilin’. And of course folks certainly treat Clayton differently now. Fame seems to do that. 

The slightly dorky kid who some classmates made fun of and picked on is now the talk of the town. Gov. Mike Easley promised him his own bridge. Fans flock to him. Even other celebrities come to hear him sing. And who can blame them? America loves Clay. And I can only grin. And shake my head in disbelief. I don’t need the contest to reaffirm what I already know. 

That’s my friend. Clayton Grissom. The American Idol. 

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