First Hit #1: June 28, 2003
Now we are in the second season of American Idol, and into the big match-up between Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Stoddard won the day, being a fairly atypical pop star – a very large man who was mostly interested in just doing gospel – and Aiken got the number one single, bringing with him a certain non-threatening androgyny that lots of the really successful male pop stars have. But, while the show has learned from some of its mistakes – no misbegotten movie, for starters – it still hasn’t quite gone through the effort of making the first single worthwhile.
This is the Night is better than A Moment Like This. That doesn’t mean it’s good, it’s just better, like how you’re feeling a bit less awful three days after surgery than you are two days later. It’s another faux-inspiring song about a wonderful night, which could basically be about the show itself if it didn’t keep referencing kisses. It’s basically a retread of what worked for Clarkson, albeit with some nice electric guitars to add a bit of spice, and that’s the core problem of the song. It’s just what was done before with some new guitars, it’s not trying to really capture what Aiken is good at. Worse still, it’s an attempt to smuggle in a message about how wonderful American Idol is rather than make a song that people would ever want to hear again. It’s mythbuilding for a reality show, not an attempt to build a budding young star’s career. But that doesn’t matter, does it? If you bought this single, it was because you liked Aiken and were invested in the show, not because you liked the song, especially since the song wasn’t all that interesting.
Aiken has done alright for himself, though he’s not quite at the level of visibility of Clarkson, but he’s also struck with a somewhat poor first single.