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Product: Audio CD
Title: Measure of a Man
Label: Rca
Artist: Clay Aiken
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Not the style I expected but good


I first need to start this off by saying that I rooted for Clay all the way through American Idol. I think he's incredibly talented and definitely one of my favorite singers. However, I don't see that many of these songs would be "standout" songs that would make it onto the radio. I think Clay did such an excellent job on songs such as "Mack the Knife" and some of the old 60s type tunes that I don't think these pop songs really do him justice. I think he would be better suited doing Frank Sinatra or Josh Groban type stuff, because I think he has the voice and the talent to do it. Also some of these songs sound like old 90s contemporary christian to me (only they were written about love and breakups). So I guess I'm just kind of confused about what style he is going for. I am still rooting for Clay all the way but I'm hoping everyone realizes his talent reaches beyond "light pop".



Product: Audio CD
Title: No Strings Attached
Label: Jive
Artist: *NSYNC
Rating: 1/5
Customer rating - 1 out of 5
Waste of my money


N Sync's finally come into there own with this album. Great catchy releases have put them above the bland Backstreet Boys. They've made their own formula for success on this album instead of mimicking what the overly cocky Backstreet Boys did with their albums. These guys can actually sing while the Backstreet Boys simply can't. It's like comparing Spears and Christina---N Sync and Christina are just simply better than either of these minimally talented acts.



Product: Audio CD
Title: American Idol Season 2: All Time Classic American Love Songs
Label: RCA
Artist: Various Artists
Rating: 4/5
Customer rating - 4 out of 5
Some shine, some flop, some surprise


1. "What the World Needs Now," All (9/10): Vocals are strong and heartfelt. Bacharach made a good move by having Clay sing the intro. It was understated, yet mellow and smooth. The only flaw is Julia's "one" at the very end. While the intention was very good and sweet, I think she took the "breathiness" a bit too far and she ended up sounding thin.
2. "Superstar," Ruben Studdard (2/10): Pretty, but he takes this song way way way too slow. I don't know if it was to spare his struggling lung capacity, but it takes Ruben almost 10 seconds to sing the line "Don't you remember you told me you love me baby" which was originally meant to be sung in no more than 5 or 6. Very boring.
3. "On the Wings of Love," Clay Aiken (10/10): No surprise here, Clay goes above and beyond the expectations of a pop balladier on OTWOL. There is a beautiful balance between sheer vocal power and mellow understatedness. Excellent.
4. "At Last," Julia DeMato (8/10): I found this to be quite a surprise. I was never impressed with Julia on the show, but this track shows her strength as a recording artist. She handles the higher notes with grace and confidence and, in the end, proved that she is indeed a singer. My only criticism is that she should work on getting more breath support, since at times she sounds a little too thin. Otherwise, good work.
5. "Three Times a Lady," Josh Gracin (8/10): Good work from Gracin here. He sounded a little shaky at times, but not enough to really be bothersome. His country tones can be heard slightly, but not too much, so there is just a little hint of something different here.
6. "Let's Stay Together," Trenyce (7/10): I'm not sure I'm as sold on this version as I was on her Wild Card performance. The main difference is in delivery. Her beautiful voice is yet unchanged, but I much preferred her powerful, spark-filled Wild Card performance over the more mellow, understated version on the CD. However, it is still a good track, despite my personal preferences. She sounds wonderful, as always.
7. "Back at One," Rickey Smith (9/10): Rickey once again proves the Brian McKnight comparisons to be fair, and he does them justice on this track. His beautiful voice just soars and delivers the song with ease. I only wish for a tad bit more originality. Other than that, Rickey's recording was a huge success.
8. "Killing me Softly" Kimberly Caldwell (8/10): I was quite surprised at this selection as well as the outcome. While I don't really thinkg of "Killing me Softly" as a love song (since it is widely known that it is about Don McLean singing "American Pie"), it suits Kim's voice. She has a certain edge that this song requires, but one should not mistake possession of an edge for lack of lyricism, which she definitely has.
9. "Open Arms," Corey Clark (2/10): I expected Corey to sound much better on this, being a Steve Perry tune, since he did so well with "Foolish Heart" in his group of 8 performance. But there is no spark there. The one thing he has going for him is that it is very accurate. Every note is right, he is perfectly in tune...but there is no originality or emotion. Clay's version of this song during HIS group of 8 performance was 10 times better.
10. "How do I Live," Carmen Rasmusen (0/10): In my opinion, the only recording that has almost NO saving grace. The only iota of anything positive is that her vibrato is not there. However, if you listen closely, you can hear that is because she does not hold a note for any longer than 2 or 3 beats (vibrato usually sets in after that). This cuts out the vibrato, but makes the song very boring to listen to. Carmen didn't impress me on the show and she didn't impress me here either.
11. "Over the Rainbow," Kimberley Locke (10/10): Kind of a surprising selection for the CD, like "Killing me Softly," I don't really think of it as a love song, but Kimberley sings it beautifully. There is no less spark or emotion in this recording than we heard in her group of 8 performance. In fact, I think there may be a little more. Here, she proves that she was born to be a singer.
12. "Overjoyed," Charles Grigsby (6/10): I was never really impressed with Charles on the show, but he gave me a little more to like on this recording. However, I found nothing really to jump out of my seat about. He sang it well, but it just seemed flat (as in dull, not pitch-wise) sometimes and I was waiting for something to make me cheer for him. However, his mellow voice really makes the song float.
13. "God Bless the USA," All (10/10): I can't get enough of this recording. Makes me cry every time.



Product: Audio CD
Title: Nothing Fails
Label: Warner Brothers
Artist: Madonna
Rating: 2/5
Customer rating - 2 out of 5
The album versions are better


Unlike most Madonna fans, I think "American Life" is a brilliant album and "Nothing Fails" is a moving ballad that people should give a serious listen to. This CD-single, however, is full of bland, generic, tired club beats. Sadly, these remixes add nothing to these 2 songs. There is nothing here that will send you running to the dancefloor, like "Ray of Light" and other favorites once did.
I used to love Madonna's club mixes, but her last few remix singles have just left me cold ("Hollywood" is gathering dust on my shelf). Maybe her music with Mirwais is just too techno-based as it is to warrant having their songs remixed. I'd rather hear the album versions.