Singer Clay Aiken rides his sleigh full of Christmas cheer to the Trump Taj Mahal
Christmas apparently isn’t as cool as it once was with recording artists. There are considerably less holiday albums released these days as there were a generation ago.
But Clay Aiken reaches for Christmas music at this time of year. The pop artist doesn’t care if Christmas isn’t cool.
“That doesn’t matter to me because I’m not cool either,” Aiken tells Atlantic City Weekly while calling from New York where he is taping a segment for the Dr. Oz show. “I can see why Christmas isn’t cool. It can be schmaltzy and cheesy but that’s fine for my personality. That’s why I’m out on another Christmas tour. I love it.
” The American Idol alum (class of 2003, runner-up to A.I. champ Ruben Studdard), will perform Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Trump Taj Mahal.
Aiken says he will tour behind Christmas music each year in perpetuity. “I’m going to do it annually since I hope to become the next Andy Williams,” Aiken says. “I don’t think anyone else wants to be the contemporary Christmas artist and that’s alright with me. I would love to be able to be known as the Christmas artist.
” Expect Aiken, who will be backed by an orchestra, to belt out an array of Christmas classics. Such seasonal favorites as “Winter Wonderland,” “Joy to the World” and “Silent Night,” which are on Aiken’s 2004 release Merry Christmas With Love, will be rendered. “I had the greatest time making that album,” Aiken says. “From that point on, I knew I wanted to be a part of the holiday season every year. You don’t have to see me the rest of the year.
” Well, Aiken is just kidding. “You’ll hear plenty of my non-Christmas albums in the upcoming years,” he says. But expect much of Aiken’s future material to be retro. Aiken was born too late and he knows it. The pop singer would have been perfectly at home during the 1960s singing hits from legendary Brill Building songwriters such as Neil Diamond, Carole King and Neil Sedaka.
Aiken revels in singing love songs from a bygone era. “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” penned by the aforementioned Sedaka, Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” and Roy Orbison’s “Crying” is some of the tunes Aiken loves to croon.
“I have to agree with [the] ‘born too late’ line,” Aiken says. “I just hope it’s not ‘born too late, died too soon.’ I think my voice fits those songs from the ’60s and ’70s and I just love those songs. They are wonderful songs from a wonderful period. I feel like I relate to the songs from that period.
” That’s why it was so uncomfortable watching the post-Idol Aiken be dressed up by the corporate machine into something he isn’t. You couldn’t help but wince watching Aiken in a leather jacket.
“I think it’s so important to stay in your own lane,” Aiken says. “When I put out my first two albums, they were dressing me up like I was going to be the next Justin Timberlake or how Justin Bieber looks today. That image just doesn’t work for me. But there is a type of music that works for me, it’s Christmas music."
” Is it just a coincidence that Aiken is performing at Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal after he finished second last spring on The Donald’s NBC hit The Apprentice?
“That’s a funny thing, isn’t it?” Aiken offers. “I had a great time on the show. It was very hard work. We worked 18 hours a day, but it was all worth it for the experience. I enjoyed working on Lisa Lampanelli’s team. She is so hardcore and we have a similar absurd sense of humor. It was a challenge every day. I had a project to do that I could take ownership of. It was great. I enjoyed being around Arsenio Hall and Donald Trump was wonderful.
” When American Idol alum precedes Aiken’s name, he can’t help but chuckle. “It’s been so long since I was on American Idol that I look through binoculars to see it,” Aiken says.
“It’s been 10 years, but I appreciate the opportunity the show gave me. The show has gone through quite a few changes since I was on. Simon [Cowell] is gone and so is Paula [Abdul] and Randy [Jackson]. They were great judges, but they had to move on and the show is moving on. It’s still doing well.
The new holiday edition of Legends at Bally’s features a strong group of tribute artists.
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A LITTLE MORE THAN A YEAR ago Clay Aiken was a relatively unknown entity pursuing a degree in special education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. "I fell in love with working with individuals with autism," he said. But that was before the lanky, bespectacled, spiky-haired, 25-year-old Raleigh, North Carolina native captured second place on TV's second season of American Idol and first place in the hearts of millions of viewers. Since then Aiken has enjoyed a year filled with fan mail, concerts, the release of his first single, "This Is the Night" and his debut chart-topping album, Measure of a Man. Earlier this month Aiken embarked on his first solo tour, a whirlwind event of more than 44 summer concerts that brings him to Caesars Atlantic City on Friday and Saturday nights. Aiken finds it difficult to comprehend the fact that he has reached star status. "I don't think I'm a pessimist. I'm a realist. I try to allow myself to be as successful as I believe I can be. Yet, I prepare myself for failure ... It's possible that I could be back teaching within a few months," he commented recently. Aiken never seriously considered music as a...
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