August 23 - 29, 2020
Year of Release: 2003
How Can You Mend
A Broken Heart
Take The Shot
What Is Sexy
Can I Get Your Attention
For All We Know
Play Our Song
Don't Quit On Me
After The Candles Burn
Flying Without Wings
We Have Not Forgotten
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The Complete WSVNRadio Album Archive
Ruben Studdard returns this week, with his debut album, Soulful. Ruben was the winner of American Idol, Season 2. Clay Aiken was the
runner-up. These two singers were really hard to determine the final winner. I had missed the first season - I had actually caught the very end of it, where
final two were about to be decided the winner (Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini; Kelly was the first winner). I watched Season 2, from start to finish. All of
the final singers were equally good, yet Ruben and Clay were definitely the best ones in the group. As mentioned, when the time came for the winner, many favored
either one to win. In either case, both singers were worth looking to, in how they would accomplish their new careers in singing. One thing was certain, in order
to be a "successful singer," you had to have an "image." The LOOK of a music star. This was NOT the case for both Ruben and Clay. Ruben was the "teddy bear,"
with his big stage presence. Clay (in Randy Jackson's words), was "Howdy Doody, with a voice." Looks can be deceiving, but its the VOICE that made the difference.
And Ruben Studdard defined true Soul, with his excellent voice. Soulful has that, and R&B, and Hip-Hop throughout. But it's the soulful ballad-type
tunes that stand out, and this is Ruben's highest quality. The leadoff track is one of them: "Sorry 2004" was a single from the album. The other soulful
R&B ballads are: "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" -- the Bee Gees remake; Ruben's version is as soulful as it gets. "What If" has the comparison
to a ballad by Usher. Then there is a song that Studdard performed on American Idol -- The Carpenters' "Superstar." The two other soulful ballads
are "For All We Know," and "After The Candles Burn."
To match "today's R&B" style, Ruben supplies the need. Compared to the R&B of Destiny's Child has "No Ruben," and "Take The Shot." Another
style in "today's R&B" is Hip-Hop. Not exactly Rap for Ruben, although he does get some help from rappers on a few tunes. Ruben is not a rapper, obviously, as
he supplies his soulfulness R&B style with rapper Fat Joe on "What Is Sexy," and rapper Pretty TOny on "Can I Get Your Attention."
Ruben himself gets the R&B/Hip-Hop qualities on "Play Our Song" and "Don't Quit On Me." Yet these songs fit the Hip-Hop formats (and R&B), Ruben
still shines gold on soulful ballads.
Two bonus tracks are included here. "Flying Without Wings" is a nice, peaceful track. (I believe this was from the Idol show.) And a gospel'ish
R&B track with Gospel artist Fred Hammond, "We Have Not Forgotten." Not only would Gospel be another great quality for Ruben -- he would record an all-Gospel
album for his second album, I Need An Angel. Note: Bill Gaither had
helped out with this album, as Gaither is truly one of the greatest Gospel/Christian artists in its history.
Soulful is a very good title for the teddy bear Ruben Studdard. His voice proved pure Soul when we were introduced to him, from American Idol.
Yet his ballads are the standouts, he does well with today's R&B and Hip-Hop styles. He would record a total of 7 albums as of this date. His latest is an album
of Luther Vandross tunes. As talented as a singer he was along with Clay Aiken, I'm surprised the two of them did not (or not have yet) recorded an album together.
They were worth watching on Season 2 of American Idol. Clay has had his golden voice recorded on his own career as well.
Read Clay's first album, Measure Of A Man, reviewed here.
Hear how it all began, Ruben's debut album Soulful. It definitely has Soul, and hearing how his great voice is, you will want to explore in his other
later releases. More on that at later dates. I Need An Angel. was his
second. More to come.
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