Monday, November 23, 2009

Aiken Takes Water Cooler Prize

Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me
Clay Aiken Surprises AI5 Finale Audience

Best Water Cooler Moment Ever!

AI5 Finale Buzz Centers on Clay

Whether Sunday's ABC telecast of the American Music Awards qualifies for the "water cooler hall of fame," from what I have seen online and in the media, I doubt the show -- and especially the final act -- will come close to the most discussed Idol moment of all times.

If you are a Clay Aiken fan, you know what's coming. Of course, the opening video provides a healthy hint. The singer's surprise appearance on the AI5 Finale catapulted his own showdown with Ruben Studdard three years earlier.

Throughout most of AI5 Finale Week, television, radio, and print media focused not on the possible winners but the ever-emerging rumors and debates about whether Clay Aiken, AI2 runner-up, would perform.

Despite the crowning of new Idol Taylor Hicks on May 24, 2006, the postscript media blitz centered around a new, "hipper" Clay Aiken's victorious return to the AI stage. This is a portion of the AP story appearing on MSNBC, CNN, and countless other news sites:

Second-season runner-up Clay Aiken, with a slick new look, performed a “duet” on “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” with his alter ego, a wannabe “American Idol” contestant who evoked the originally geeky Aiken.

While in general the comedy skits on American Idol 5 lacked in comparison to American Idol 4’s roast of Corey Clark, there was one shining moment that will likely go down as one of the funniest moments in American Idol history.

In a re-occurring segment called the Golden Idol Awards, Ryan Seacrest presented candidates for “Best Impersonation.” The nominees were Kenneth Maccarone as Cher, Seth Strickland as Michael Jackson, and Michael Sandecki as Clay Aiken.

As Michael warbled through “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,” the stage doors opened up to reveal Clay Aiken. Surprised by the sudden loud cheering, Michael turned to see Aiken and appeared to nearly go into shock on the stage.

As Clay joined his impersonator in song, Michael excitedly jumped around the stage. Seacrest eventually reappeared and sat Michael down, while asking him if he was OK.

It was the same incredible voice, but the maturity and difference in Singer Man's appearance was so striking that the panel of judges didn't even recognize him.

The theater audience and television viewers, however, went wild; and the event became the next day's most discussed water cooler topic, even topping the buzz about the newly-crowned Idol.

The AI5 Finale montage by BKFORCLAYANDMK features audio from the next morning's "ACE & TJ Show" on Charlotte's WNKS-FM radio station during which the DJ's and listeners discussed "the greatest moment of the night."

AI5 Finale montage by BKFORCLAYANDMK

Lythgoe Reveals Secrecy Plan

In an interview on KTLA-TV's Morning News Show later that week, Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe revealed that details of Clay's appearance and performance were kept secret from almost everyone, the judges and Ryan included. Clay arrived at an obscure entrance in an SUV with tinted windows.

Sporting a new look and attracting no attention whatsoever, he walked in unnoticed with wardrobe personnel and the garments they were transporting, secretly watching the show in a nearby building before being escorted to the stage just in time for his grand entrance.

Images from the AI5 Finale are featured in these clickable graphics by cindilu2, AmazingCA, and Sally.

To say these few minutes headlined conversation in Clay Cyberspace would be putting it mildly. But it didn't stop there. The Carolina crooner's surprise appearance was the main topic at office water coolers around the world.

In one fell swoop, Clay Aiken was the conquering hero returning to accept the accolades that thousands thought should have been his at the end of the second season. In doing so, he finally received his confetti moment.

Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!



anaturegirl said...

What a moment that was. Yes, a true water cooler moment never to be forgotten.

Ashes said...

Clay Aiken definitely had the water cooler moment from that surprise appearance. He was outstanding!

LovesClaysVoice said...

That was the BEST water cooler moment ever! Everyone was talking about it! I'll never forget my reaction when Clay walked out! My jaw dropped! I wasn't sure it was him! Then he started singing and you can't mistake that voice!

SueReu said...

I watched the AI5 finale until Clay Aiken was on and then went to bed LOL!!!

He was absolutely amazing! After the initial "OMG,is that REALLY CLAY?" moment, I was again captivated by both his presence and that glorious voice.

Thanks for the memories!


Thanks Caro. This is one of the most incredible moments.
I love to see this video. Whenever I see, I enjoy it like the first time.

Clay looked so beautiful ...

I like the other video of the interview. I had not seen, nor knew the details about the appearance of Clay.


Anonymous said...

I still get a thrill watching that Clay Aiken segment!!

musicfan said...

That was one of the most fun and talked about moments on TV. Why RCA didn't follow though is a real puzzle.

Thanks for posting this fun remembrance.

IamMesmerized said...

Caro, you made my day. I watch that clip over and over and you made it so easy today!

I do think that was one of Clay's finest moments as well as one of TV's finest. He looked and sounded gorgeous and I'll never forget that moment. I loved the hair and that night was probably my favourite Clay look ever.

Thanks for the wonderful memory.

MAE said...

This is so great! I've watched it over and over. Truly an unforgettable moment! Thanks for bringing it to us! Clay is just wonderful, as always!

Anonymous said...

That is and was the BEST...enjoy that so much because of the joy you can see in Clay's smile . He knew he made that guy's day......and ours being able to see him make someone else special! Big part of Clay I so enjoy!!Thanks for your blogs ,you do such a awesome job !!!!! A Clay music fan, Donna in Wi.

Anonymous said...

Clay Aiken raised the bar each and every time he took to the stage. He never failed to up the ratings each time too!

ImGranny said...

That was amazing! I've watched my tape of that night over and over and I never get tired of it. That was a Clay Aiken water cooler moment!

MissSally said...
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MissSally said...

I remember how Clay teased us with pics of suit fittings, and other preparations; never showing his face. Instead we saw the back of his head and an arm, shoulder, etc. And yet, despite all of his hints, we were FLOORED when he took the stage, and ultimately the entire show!

Definitely a great water cooler moment.

Thanks for running it again.


Anonymous said...

I still get chills just thinking about how that moment must have been to see it live. You know I had to watch that video over and over and over. I never get tired of watching him sing. I can't wait to see what he has in store for us in 2010!
Thanks Carol

Anonymous said...

I must have watched this Clay Aiken moment a least a thousand times since the first time and always get a glow of delight from it.

ymarie said...

Thanks for reminding me about the best moment in television history. Besides the always amazing voice and awesome new look, he was so sweet to Michael by letting him continue to sing, and not trying to upstage him. That shows real class, something Clay Aiken has in spades.

going said...
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tree ~ said...

Great memories, caro! This was the very moment I became a fan!!The perfect water cooler moment indeed...slurp

clayam said...

I will never forget that look when the curtains parted and Clay Aiken came down those!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and specially Clay and his family.

Sandy said...

The very best "Water Cooler" moment in history ever! I can watch this over and over and over and still have a big grin on my face from ear to ear! Now this is how to entertain an audience! Clay can entertain me anyday!
I wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving and hope you have a very wonderful long weekend!


Beanblossom said...

That, folks, is how it's done - with class and talent.

katy said...

I love rewatching the AI5 appearance. Never a better moment since. That just can't be recreated. And he did it by doing what he does best, singing and being a gentleman.