Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ah, Life

I'm just wondering where I'm going to find the time to complete every single task on my ever-lengthening list.

Someone please clone me.

Still, the Tokyo trip is confirmed, and a friend who's a connoiseur of all things Japanese has been emailing me tips on what to do while I'm there. Sounds good. :)

But have to study for exit. Argh.

CD Review: Clay Aiken's A Thousand Different Ways

It's been a while since I last blogged about one of my favourite singers, but his new album is REALLY GOOD, and since I have a few minutes, here's a quick rundown.

14 tracks in total -- 10 covers and 4 original songs.

Not doing a track-by track this time. May end up repeating myself since most of them are terrific. Will just highlight a few points.


Overall, the selection comprises profoundly tough pieces requiring powerful vocals and strong delivery. Many were first recorded by veritable superstars so you'd better have loads of self-confidence and ability before even contemplating a cover.

Clay picked quite a few whoppers -- Without You ( first done by Air Supply, later re-recorded by Mariah Carey ), When I See You Smile ( Bad English ), Everything I Do ( I Do It For You ) ( Bryan Adams ), I Want To Know What Love Is ( Foreigner ), and Broken Wings ( Mr. Mister ).

I grew up listening to these songs on the radio, and have a few of the albums too. So yeah, I'm familiar with the material.

Do Clay's interpretations do them justice? Most of them do, but a couple don't.

Great covers include Without You ( super-duper glory notes ), Broken Wings ( Clay makes quite a convincing rocker, and the new-agey feel is pretty cool ), Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word ( different from Elton John and Richard Marx's versions but equally good ), Every Time You Go Away ( Hall & Oates ) and Right Here Waiting ( slightly faster rock tempo ).

Okay covers: When I See You Smile, Because You Loved Me ( Celine Dion ).

Not my cup of tea: Everything I Do ( I Do It For You ) -- the violins get on my nerves, and think the key should've been a few notches lower.


Lonely No More was co-written by Clay. Another rock ballad type of song. Growing on me slowly.

A Thousand Days is probably the least favourite of mine where originals are concerned. Melody isn't that strong.

Everything I Have is quite good. One of the few quiet, slow love ballads on the disc, reminiscent of Measure Of A Man from his debut album in 2003. A tad mushy, of course, but I prefer to just sit back and enjoy Clay's beautiful voice, which shines brightly thanks to minimal accompaniment.

These Open Arms, IMHO, is the best of the lot. Written by Jon Bon Jovi and Desmond Child, no less! Once Clay hits the chorus, the goosebumps start popping up. This is definitely a rock anthem, and the vocals soar to the high heavens. Pity they couldn't drag it out a minute longer. The whole thing lasts less than 3.5 minutes, which is way too short.


Will this win any music awards? Certainly not. Because the industry loathes covers, thinks Clay is a wimp, and tends to favour hip hop / R&B / rap artistes.

However, I feel that he's matured musically over the years, and displays undeniable talent ( and guts! ). I love his song choices ( notice how many hail from the '80s and '90s ) and the interpretations are marvelous.

The album may have benefited from more originals, but I'm certain he'll release another CD sometime in the near future, so hope this happens next time round.

His new look? I like it. Not many pictures in the CD sleeve, but it doesn't matter to me since I care mostly about his music and had my fill visually during American Idol season 2.

Will Sony BMG PLEASE bring him to Singapore for a concert already!?!?!

P.S. Young British jazz sensation Peter Grant's album is available in stores. After months of fruitless searching, I found it at -- big surprise -- a Sembawang Music outlet blasting Canto-pop at a shopping mall. Mighty interesting.
Haven't popped it into the player yet -- spinning Clay's disc right now. Review will follow at a later date.

Preventive Measure

This fellow's talent for sucking up knows no bounds.

I guess some people never change.

Recently learned of his exploits at an AST course, during which he made a beeline for a certain well-known personality in the local medical circle.

The well-known personality related this during a closed-door meeting a few days ago, oblivious to my connection to the person.

A suggestion was made, to my immense horror.

A member of the administrative panel who was present, and who's privy to my connection, tossed concerned looks at me from across the table.

On the way home, we discussed my options. It was clear that I should say something.

So I dropped my esteemed colleague a late night email, and received a response the very next morning.

Suffice to say, someone's efforts at impressing have come to naught.

Also doesn't help when someone's sibling has a rather unsavoury track record.

Thank you for believing me and taking my side.

Return Of The Native

And just like that, 2 months have flown by in a flash.

Am due to return to the mother ship in a week, and to be honest, I'm extremely homesick.

Granted, I was frustrated, cranky and exhausted over there. But we're essentially in the same boat and share frequent laughs over the hopelessness of it all.

I've enjoyed my time here. The people are nice, the working environment pleasant, the training programmes laudable.

But I'm eager to fly back to the nest. Hang out with the gang and gossip, pig out in the pantry and catch snippets of CNN and HBO when the situation allows, trade punches with the surgeons and cardiologists who've been so wonderfully accomodating.

Stress ulcers, tension headaches and varicose veins? Bring 'em on. I'm ready. :)

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