Clay Aiken’s A Thousand Different Ways released today

American Idol 2 runner-up Clay Aiken’s second album, A Thousand Different Ways, is in stores today, continuing the streak of fall Idol-related releases. The album largely consists of covers of “classic love songs”, but it also includes four original songs.

On the occasion of his third studio album, reality blurred has asked two people–a fan of Clay’s who has been a faithtful correspondent with Clay-related news over the years, and a friend of mine whose knowledgeable opinions about music I respect–to review the record. However, the album wasn’t available to critics until today (although some Clear Channel radio stations’ web sites have offered low-quality streaming versions of it).

Both of our reviewers did receive the first single, Without You, which Clay performed this morning on Good Morning America. Here, as a tease for their full-length reviews, are brief reactions to the first single:

Michelle C., Clay Aiken fan:

“Without You” highlights Clay’s impressive range and impassioned vocals; however, it seems an odd choice for the first single, since the arrangement is similar to Harry Nilsson’s version. I would have chosen Clay’s catchy original, “A Thousand Days,” or the ethereal and innovative “Broken Wings.”

Eric S., eclectic music aficionado:

On the first single, “Without You,” from A Thousand Different Ways, Clay works hard to impress us with his slick brand of arena pop. You can almost hear the beads of sweat on his brow, just below his carefully-mussed coiffure. But despite the tenacious production and skillful singing that brilliantly compliment his upgraded look, I’m living just fine without him.

Look for their full reviews soon.

A Thousand Different Ways

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.