so this all happens because i happen to be listening to erasure; because i heard this clay aiken song on the radio; and because, hey, doesn’t the nylpm redesign look nice? why not bring the site even more hits? claynation will soon be on its way and i’m content to be its chew toy.

for those outside of the u.s., clay was the runner-up in the most recent american idol and is now probably the biggest geek icon since rivers cuomo. since then, the actual competition was the only thing he’s come second in, in terms of single sales, airplay, magazine covers, etc. think thom yorke after a ‘queer eye’ makeover. but it was before that makeover, as a gawky, God-fearing, fatherless, special education major that he won the hearts of a guilty nation. would we have responded differently if we knew that he ran over a kitten? that he harbors an intense hatred of cats? (i can’t believed he fooled so many young girls; me, i knew from the start. oh pussy, oh pussy cat!)

the talk surrounding this last ‘american idol’ was that it signified ‘talent over image.’ honestly, nothing could be farther removed from the truth. the reason why i believe europeans will remain untroubled by clay is that they know nothing about him, while we american viewers watched him grow up before our very eyes. who watched for the music? admit it, we all just hoped that this would be the night that clay winked at us, or that ruben pointed at us, or that julia’s top would bust open. everyone in this year’s top 12 had their little thing that they did, their own quirk: if they didn’t steal your heart, they probably stole your car. (ruben, the actual victor, is another story: he’s performed a cover of westlife’s “flying without wings” that will perhaps take off if europe isn’t yet tired of america selling its product back to them, even if it is in augmented form.)

(and, yeah, c’mon clay conspiracy theorists: your boy gets his own special “moment like this”-type song written especially for him, and ruben gets warmed-over westlife? please. no one’s gotten this jobbed since chantel failed to make it into s club 12 & under or whatever they’re calling that ‘american juniors’ group. )

what i’m saying, then, is that i’m worried about clay. i was doing my damndest to conceive a plan that will break him in the rest of the world. while listening to “this is the night” for the umpteenth time, i realize that the chorus bears a striking resemblance to erasure’s “oh l’amour.” (try it yourself at home!) i then turn to “oh l’amour” and i recognize the line: “broke my heart and now i’m achin’ for you.” “achin’ for you?” “AIKEN for you?”all of a sudden, i hear clay’s broadway melody over synths and tinny drums — it’s crazy enough to work, if andy’s content to play andrew to clay’s george.

let’s face it: erasure aren’t the world-beaters they used to be either; it seems mutually beneficial, to say the least. during the season, comparisons between clay and barry manilow were tossed about left and right. maybe it was the sportscoats; maybe it was the large gay fanbase. why not capitalize on it? a la the ‘abba-esque’ cd, this newly-minted supergroup could perform an ep of barry manilow covers. called ‘un-BARRY-ble.’ maybe something else. i just come up with the ideas, i’m not an ad firm. (answers to the usual address: best entry wins a handful of clay’s chest hair, as pictured on the ‘rolling stone’ cover.)

and if that doesn’t work… paging pete waterman…