Saturday, May 21, 2011

Clay Aiken Key Performer in Most Viewed Idol Finales

Clay Aiken-Ruben Studdard, Timeless Duo
Link to montage by SueReu on You Tube for full page view.

Best AI Season Ever

Aiken-Studdard Pairing Timeless

Through nine editions of American Idol, the 38.1 million viewers garnered by the Clay Aiken-Ruben Studdard Finale of May 21, 2003, not only confirms the popularity of the two singers but also the high bar set by the Season 2 contestants.

Next week's competition between two Southern teens -- Lauren Alaina, 16, of Fort Oglethorpe, GA, and Scotty McCreery, 17, Garner, NC, -- will determine the winner of American Idol 10 and whether Season 2 retains the viewership crown.

Read more about the AI 10 showdown in this story at The Improper website: Scott McCreery, Lauren Alaina Idol Finalists; South Bias Strikes Again.

AI10 finalists Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery

Articles Rewind AI Finales

Finale week always inspires a variety of previous season highlights. Articles of interest to this blog's readership would include Studdard, Aiken: A Match of Opposites (Variety), a replay of Season 2.

In Secrets Behind American Idol's Incredible Comeback, a May 19 Hollywood Reporter story, Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer, reported that his favorite AI moment was when the Season 2 runner-up turned up for a surprise duet with Michael Sandecki, an Aiken impersonator, during the 5th season finale.

Seasons of 'Idol'-atry, 2010 Washington Post story, provided an overview of the show's nine seasons to date. With 38.1 and 36.4 million viewers, respectively, the finale shows of Seasons 2 and 5 were maintaining their gold-silver ranking.

Ironically, Clay participated in both, as a finalist in his season and as a surprise guest performer with a suave makeover that momentarily fooled loyal fans and Idol personnel alike three years later.

Don't Let the Sun go Down on Me - Clay Aiken
The AI5 Finale water cooler moment.

Link to YouTube to view full screen.

Lythgoe Reveals AI5 Secrecy Plan

In an interview on KTLA-TV's Morning News Show the week following the AI5 Finale, Lythgoe revealed that details of Clay's appearance and performance on the show were kept secret from almost everyone.

The singer arrived at an obscure entrance in an SUV with tinted windows. Sporting a suave 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 for his entrance.

American Idol 5 Finale showstopper - Graphic by Sally.

Clay was there to surprise Michael Sandecki, an early contestant who supposedly had won the Golden Idol Award for "Best Impersonation" of a previous finalist.

As the stage doors parted, Clay entered singing DLTSGDOM. The theater audience and television viewers went wild.

It was the same incredible voice, but the maturity and difference in Clay's appearance were so striking that the panel of judges and emcee Ryan Seacrest didn't recognize him at first.

The event easily became the most discussed water cooler topic of the AI5 Finale, surmounting the buzz about the evening's newly-crowned Idol, Taylor Hicks.

Click on screen cap to link to Fan Fest website.

Aiken Fans Assemble for Annual Fest

For Clay Aiken fans, the place to be this weekend is the Yorktowne Hotel in York, PA, where supporters have gathered for Fan Fest, annual two-day fundraiser for the National Inclusion Project.

Besides greeting longtime online friends, attendees are enjoying a schedule packed with crafts, a Clay hat contest, caricatures, singalong of Clay's hits, live auctions, raffles, the Claymobile, dinner with guest speaker Faye Parker, and a round table Sunday morning breakfast discussion.

Be sure to click on the headings at the top of the Fan Fest website for more details. Heading up this year's event is Cookie, original owner of the Claymobile. Below are clickable photos shared by Scarlett from some of the Saturday afternoon activities.

Included are Faye Parker and friends; Yoshi of Baltimore, formerly of Japan; two of the many displays; a spring wreath made especially by Faye for the Fan Fest auction, a Linda Huber drawing, deemer with Flat Clay, and Scarlett holding her caricature drawing.

Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!



Ginger Scarlett said...

It was definitely the BEST AI season! Will never forget all those amazing shows that built up to the finale that made everyone's heart stand still! I haven't watched much of anything else AI except for brief moments in AI3 and AI5. Yes, with AI5 he turned a yawner of a finale into yet another watercooler event! <3 Also, what a fun treasure trove Fanfest has turned out to be! I'm going to have to mail home my purchases -- and the evening isn't even over yet! We're going to have an NIP presentation from Faye and a live auction!

Jannet said...

I often fall behind, but I love it when you bring me back. Thanks Caro!

SueReu said...

Yep - AI2 was most definitely the best season of American Idol and was most definitely the season that put them on the map. It was big before, especially for a summer replacement, but it was HUGE after Season 2. Best finale ever, never to be topped, regardless of what viewership may or may not be. That season kept with the original simplicity of the show and was not what it has morphed into - with a live band, back up singers, lighting and special effects - all of which detracts from what the show should be about, singing.

Anywhoo, enough of my blah blah blah - glad the Fan Fest is going well and hope everyone is having an amazing time!!!!

T said...

Thanks so much for your great blog. For me, AI2 was still the best of all seasons. I will never compare the excitement between Clay and Ruben. Everyone was talking about it even at my workplace. Now, the reactions now is not the same compared to AI2. They're not watching like they used to.

I really enjoy your blog and it's so good watching the videos. Great job!

Take care and have a wonderful weekend.


Hope/Wowzers4Clay said...

Thanks as always for a wonderful blog.

Clay's performances on Idol is probably The most watched DVD at my house. Love all of them.

Interesting backstory on Clay's surprise return to Idol for the Season 5 Finale. I'd never read about it before.

Hope all are having a wonderful time at the Fan Fest and are raising boats of $$$ for the NIP.

Anonymous said...

Great blog Caro. Yes, AI5 Finale is and was the best moment on that show. I still remember watching it and when Clay came out saying " that Clay?" What a show stopper.

It looks like the Fan Fest is going along just great. Love the pics. I sure wouldn't mind owning that pic of him with the long Tyra hair. Wow! Faye is looking good! It is wonderful how she appeared on the Fan Fest. She is a great lady.

Rhode Island Fan said...

Love the Clay Aiken blog.
Will never forget seeing him on AI5--he knocked the socks off everyone!!
The Fanfest sounds like a blast--wonderful that Faye could be there as well.
Missing Clay right now, so blogs like this help.

Carolina Clay said...


Thank you for your comments in the Carolina blog and the parallel version at the OFC. The Internet remarks help a Clay blog compete on Google and other search engines.

Last night, a very excited Scarlett texted that she had WON a Linda Huber print! Deservedly so, IMO! All the Fan Fest pix are from her, and she is videoing the breakfast discussion as I type. *g*

Have an awesome Sunday and new week, all!


kta said...

I didn't see season 2 so I actually became a Clay fan at the season 5 finale. Thanks for the flashback. What a great moment! :)

Anonymous said...

Caro, thanks for this great blog
concerning AI5, this is my favorite. I was just thinking after
watching , would it not be wonderful, if Clay could appear on
this finale of Scotty & Lauren. The RBC in Raleigh will be open for
fans to view the show!!!!!! Come on
Nigel Lithgowe do this for all Clay's fans and the world to see what a great singer Clay really is

Anonymous said...

Caro, just another comment concerning my wwishing Clay could
appear on this upcoming finale of
season 10. I want the world to see
just how much our wonderful Clay has matured just in the past 5 yrs
what a treat it would be !!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was going to comment on exactly what SueRue said - AI has morphed into a glorified production! Doubt if any of today's contestants would have lasted long on AI2!

Still have the image in my mind of Clay walking on stage on AI5! Will never forget that moment!

Some of the pictures of Clay and Ruben together - priceless!

Awesome blog Caro!


Anonymous said...

I always love your blog, your blog is always my stress release, to keep me sane in my hectic work world.
I always feel happy after I visited your blog, since I know for sure I will always see my idol Clay Aiken here.
thank you thank you verymuch for keeping me sane.