One of Sherry Ann’s harem of future husbands helps to kick off June in inimitable style, and had I been using my noodle last weekend, I would have commissioned her to compose the text celebrating that event. Instead, you’re stuck with me, and I s’pose I’ll leave it to you to discern whether or not that’s a good thing:
Give Clay Aiken this much credit: he certainly never backs down from a challenge. Despite several moments of genuine brilliance — laugh if you must, but “Invisible” and “Run to Me” (the standout tracks from his middling 2003 debut Measure of a Man) are both terrific tunes — Daddy Clive’s quest to turn Aiken into the next great pop star was a wholesale failure, and the attempt to refashion him as a baby Barry — replete with Manilow’s maddening penchant for godawfully inappropriate remakes! — fared even worse. And yet, through it all, Aiken has rolled with the punches, displaying an admirable grit and tenacity in the process. And now he’s back, and coming at mainstream success from yet another angle: on his fourth album (and first for new label Decca), Tried and True, Aiken now appears to be channeling his inner Bobby Darin by unleashing upon us an entire collection of big-band-era covers. (To prove he is serious about this, he even dares to tackle “Mack the Knife”!) Now, to be fair, I’ll disclose I haven’t heard as much as a note of this record, and it may well be triumphant from stem to stern, but just from scanning the tracklist, I see the precise same problem that sunk A Thousand Different Ways — Aiken’s ill-fated 2006 project — which is that he has chosen a series of tunes — in this case, titles like “Unchained Melody,” “Suspicious Minds,” and “Crying” (the lattermost of which is presented as a duet with the peerless Linda Eder, whom, one can only surmise, must have been promised the moon in exchange for these precious few moments of her time and talent) — upon whose shattering originals he cannot possibly improve. We shall see.