Ruben Studdard: Christian Lantry
October 16, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
We gave it a B

He’ll always be linked with his Idol runner-up, Clay Aiken, but Ruben Studdard is obsessed with another singer: Luther Vandross. On The Return, you can hear Vandross’ influence in every creamy falsetto note, delivered amid a storm of wind chimes and the rustle of silk sheets. In an age of coarse R&B lovermen, Studdard carries the torch for old-fashioned romance, pledging fidelity and bliss in PG-rated ballads like ”Make Ya Feel Beautiful.” The production’s bland, but his sweet singing carries the day. And he’s still better than Clay.

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