Worthy Symphony Valentine
Loving Manilow's Mini-Me: Aiken stays true to the music while Lambert chasesfame
Then again, you might be surprised by my new-found respect for Mr. Clay Aiken (aka Barry Manilow's Mini-Me) who performs at Jones Hall Valentine's Day night in a Houston Symphony presentation.
Yes, it is true that I think the American Idol formula for star making is manipulative in the same way that I think Geico commercials make people think lizards are cute: Expose the masses to enough propaganda and they will eventually buy it.
How else to explain seven Saw movies or an upcoming fourth season of Jersey Shore?
But while other past Idols like Adam Lambert and Susan Boyle (she was on the English version, Britain's Got Talent) spent their Sunday evening waiting to see their dreams of Grammy gold dashed (and while another, Fantasia, actually won a Grammy against perhaps the weakest best female R&B vocal performance field in history), Aiken was packing his bags or already en route to Houston.
Perhaps Aiken, the Season 2 runner up, has now discovered what Idol's two most legitimate past talents, Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, already know: To be a superstar with a sustainable career (as opposed to a one-hit wonder) one can't spend their life on red carpets talking to Ryan Seacrest and hoping to get their picture taken with Justin Bieber. One has to perform.
In as many cities as possible. To as many people as possible. In as many venues that will sell tickets and promote the show.
Clarkson and Underwood know this and it's no accident that they are the only past Idol's with multiple Grammys on the fireplace mantle.
Aiken is starting to get it too. With his latest album, Tried and True, he has finally found his niche, reworking classic tunes from the '50s and '60s like "Mack the Knife" and "Unchained Melody." When Aiken's tried and true was released last summer, Tried and True debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 albums. That's high enough to make Michael Buble notice the competition.
If Aiken continues pursuing these recordings and keeps touring like a man who aspires to be the next Rod Stewart, Steve Tyrell ... or even Barry Manilow, I think it's highly probably that some future invitations to the Grammys could be in the cards for him.
See that? Never let it be said that I don't have anything nice to say about American Idol alumni.
Clay Aiken presented by the Houston Symphony, 7:30 p.m. at Jones Hall for the Performing Arts