Who's that smooth criminal hanging out by the Kodak Theatre? Why, it's Corey Clark. Who's Corey Clark, you ask? Why, he's the American Idol finalist who was kicked off the show in its second season. Why was he booted from the show? Well, a few months before he appeared on the show in 2003 he was arrested for assaulting his teenage sister and for resisting arrest. That was enough to get him banished from the show, since it didn't quite fit AmIdol's clean, wholesome image. What has Clark been doing since that humiliation? According to his official website, coreyclark.com: "Since his unforgettable and show stopping performances on the most widely viewed second season" -- sorry to interrupt, but that begs the question of what was the least-viewed second season? -- "of Foxs [sic] mega-hit American Idol, Clark has devoted all of his time to diligently writing and perfecting the material for this project." What project is that? Why, it's his debut album, Corey Clark. If you follow pop culture in 2005 -- and don't be ashamed if you don't -- you might have heard about this album, since Clark decided to promote it with an appearance on ABC's Primetime Live, an ideal spot to launch a major project (ask Brad Pitt, who appeared on the show to promote Mr. & Mrs. Smith). So why would a major network have a struggling new artist on its big news show? Well, it wasn't out of the goodness of the network's heart -- it was because Clark used the program to reveal he had an affair with American Idol judge Paula Abdul, who not only allegedly slept with the young singer, but gave him advice on how to get further in the competition. (Sample: fellow AmIdol judge Randy Jackson performed with Journey and their lead singer Steve Perry, to sing Perry's "Foolish Heart"! Of course, any enterprising prospective AmIdol contestant could figure this out by doing a quick search on the Internet, but Paula's heart was in the right place, and she probably could figure out that a soul as young and restless as Corey wouldn't have the patience to find this out on his own.) Primetime Live thought that Clark's revelation would lead to big ratings, and they were right: it drew more viewers than Pat O'Brien's similar confession that he had a weak spot for cocaine and whores. Clark thought that it would help launch the project he had been working so diligently on, but he was wrong: the program made him a laughing stock. Not because his story seemed wrong or implausible -- frankly, the accompanying phone records sure make it seem like he and Paula had a fling -- but because he came across like a sleazy little weasel. So, even if he was right, he garnered no sympathy from the viewing audience, who pretty much laughed him off, right around the time that he unveiled his song about his AmIdol ordeal: "Paulatics." This gloriously titled recounting of the affair, bewilderingly told in third person, is the centerpiece of this cheaply produced, overlong album, and it's the only moment that is either as funny as his Primetime Live appearance or the heavily retouched photos of Clark wandering Hollywood Boulevard plastered throughout the liner notes. Well, that's not entirely true -- the repeated murmurings of "Corey Clark" on about half of the album's songs are pretty funny, and so is "Look What You've Done," where he tries to seduce Beyoncé by telling her how he used to have her pictures and videos all over his room, and it's also pretty amusing to hear how both the Scott Storch-produced single "Out of Control" and "Yes I Can" anemically rip off Usher's "Yeah!" Apart from that, Corey Clark is a pathetic attempt to merge Michael Jackson's Dangerous with Backstreet Boys boy-band tunes and Usher-styled contemporary R&B. The songwriting either blatantly steals from other hits or is blandly formulaic, while the production sounds as if it were recorded on second-hand Casios and hand-me-down Pro Tools. But worst of all is Clark himself, who reveals that he's a whiny, simpering, skeevy singer without the presence of Scott Savol, let alone Mario Vasquez. He's as unappetizing a singer as can be imagined, and his debut album is as cheap and flimsy as he deserves. If he had been on American Idol any longer than a couple of weeks, this album might have been a silly artifact the way William Hung's album is, but since he was just a one-week Internet gossip phenomenon in both 2003 and 2005, Corey Clark doesn't even have the resonance of Inspiration: ultimately, it's just a truly lousy record.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1