Clay Aiken and me

A week ago tonight, I dragged a friend with me to the Peace Center in Greenville, SC. My mission, as part of a book I’m working on: See Clay Aiken in concert, and try to understand how he’s become the most popular and most successful reality TV contestant ever. Because, honestly, I’m a pale white boy who can’t dance, too, and millions of people don’t swoon over me. Also, I can’t sing. But I digress.

The performance, part of Clay’s 25-city Jukebox Tour, was full of energy and, honestly, a lot of fun. Go check it out. Just don’t say anything negative about Clay or you’ll find yourself at the bottom of a Claymate pile and wake up in the hospital. (Oh, I kid the fans!)

As I wrote in a piece for MSNBC that starts to explore what I saw, “I don’t know if I’ll ever fully be able to see the Clay phenomenon in exactly the same way [his fans] do. But the performance made it clear that, in this era of manufactured pop, where top-40 music is constructed for the benefit of the audience by marketers and radio station conglomerates, Clay Aiken’s fans believe they have found something real.”

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