Who says girls love bad boys? Certainly not the women who filled Wolf Trap on Monday -- paying ticket prices higher than for any other pop, rock or country singer scheduled to appear at the amphitheater this season. They love Clay Aiken.
And while his voice is polished and he moves about the stage quite comfortably, there's nothing about his new road show, tabbed "The Jukebox Tour," that will convert the nonbelievers, those who didn't cheer when he finished second in the 2003 season of "American Idol," nor swoon when his first post-"Idol" single and two full-length CDs hit No. 1.
Aiken put on the sort of show a wedding singer might if given a big budget. The set list was made up of two hours of really famous cover songs -- it included the longest Elvis medley seen outside of a Las Vegas lounge -- capped off by a handful of tunes from his own, thin discography. Tunes from the Beatles ("Can't Buy Me Love"), Frankie Valli ("December 1963") and Ricky Martin ("Livin' la Vida Loca") were broken up by decade and delivered chronologically from oldest to newest.
Aiken, in between period-specific costume changes, sang mainly abridged versions. One of the few songs that the singer, fronting a seven-piece combo, didn't give short shrift to was "Mandy," the pop gem from Barry Manilow, a founding father of the asexual heartthrob realm that Aiken now rules.
As a good wedding singer would, Aiken had the crowd dancing and singing along with every familiar tune. And just as "Idol" contestants get caught up in nonmusical subplots as the season goes on, Aiken let the fans in on a behind-the-tour soap opera. He alluded to romantic and sexual advances a backup singer, Angela Fisher, had been making toward him, then made a big point of telling her to back off, and bragging with an odd cackle that he'd "shot her down!"
-- Dave McKenna