Henry Goldblatt
June 27, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Bridge Over Troubled Water / This is the Night

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Clay Aiken
Producers
RCA
genre
Pop

We gave it a D+

American Idol diehards are split almost evenly between Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. Which is exactly the problem with Justin Guarini’s debut. After a 10-month wait, who — with the exception of Guarini’s parents — cares about the AI first-season runner-up? Even his most rabid fans will recognize Guarini’s innocuous, focus-grouped, you-know-you-wanna-love-me ballads as songs that should be greeting Kmart shoppers. As for the Clay versus Ruben showdown, this round goes to the skinny white kid. His decadent, gospel-drenched take on ”Bridge Over Troubled Water” should have won him AI2 and will manhandle Ru’s competent but dull version of the Carpenters’ ”Superstar” (the longest three minutes ever) as well as ”Flying Without Wings” (whatever the heck that means) on the singles charts. Justin: D+ Clay: B Ruben: C+

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