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ClayManiacs.com  |  Archive  |  Media & Appearance Archive  |  2003: PRESS & MEDIA
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Author Topic: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA  (Read 13593 times)

Marilyn

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #30 on: September 07, 2010, 10:57:26 PM »
Cruiser
 NEWS & OBSERVER - BILLBOARD CHARTS ARTICLE
« Reply #30 on: August 22, 2003, 03:46:23 PM »   

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Aiken slips on Hot 100 chart - The Raleigh singer's single does better on the adult contemporary list

Friday, August 22, 2003 12:00AM EDT
By MATT EHLERS, Staff Writer

Clay Aiken's hit, "This is the Night," is tumbling down Billboard's Hot 100 chart while performing better on the adult contemporary meter. That conjures up a career-direction question for the Raleigh native and "American Idol" runner-up: Is he headed for a lifetime of opening for Celine Dion, or will he end up kickin' it with Justin Timberlake?
 
The Hot 100 chart uses a mixture of radio airplay and sales to determine the country's most popular songs. Lately the chart has been heavy with hip-hop and R&B acts such as 50 Cent and R. Kelly. This week Aiken's single "This is the Night," is No. 65, down from No. 58. It debuted at No. 1 when it was released in June.

Billboard's adult contemporary chart measures airplay on radio stations that appeal to a more mature crowd. Phil Collins hit No. 1 on the AC chart not long ago with "Can't Stop Loving You." This week "This is the Night" is No. 15, down from No. 13.

Although "This is the Night" is performing better on the AC chart than the Hot 100, it's too early to pigeonhole Aiken as an adult contemporary artist, said Sean Ross, editor in chief of Airplay Monitor, Billboard's radio magazine.

The pop-chart slippage is "more of a function of the record they decided to make," Ross said. "This is the Night" is a pop ballad that fits better alongside Collins than P. Diddy.

That could change with the release of a full-length album by Aiken, who came to national prominence via Fox's fan-voted TV talent show.
"Pop radio would like to have something to play other than 50 Cent and Nelly," said Ross, who believes the album will probably have a more contemporary sound than "This is the Night." If the songs sound like hits, pop radio will play them, Ross predicted.

The release date of Aiken's album has been pushed back several times, with Amazon now listing it as Oct. 14.  Joe Wade Formicola believes the record will be a smash, producing two top-10 singles. Formicola, operations manager and program director at adult-contemporary WRAL-FM (Mix 101.5), isn't big on chart labels.  "He's on all different kinds of charts," he said. "Nobody pays attention to them."

Formicola predicts that Aiken will find chart success similar to matchbox twenty and Sheryl Crow, artists whose tunes often become hits on multiple charts.

One tune from the album that has that potential is "Invisible," which already has been passed around the Internet. Aiken performs it regularly in concert.

"It doesn't sound like "This is the Night," said Chris Edge, program director at Top-40 WDCG-FM (G105). "It's a little bit quicker and hipper sounding."
Edge can imagine the song being performed by a number of artists, including Timberlake and Johnny Rzeznik , lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls. "I think that means it's a quality song."

Although he works in Aiken's hometown and would play the song no matter what, Edge said he would spin "Invisible" anywhere in the country.
"A hit is a hit," he said. "It's really good."

Staff writer Matt Ehlers can be reached at 829-4889 or mehlers@newsobserver.com.

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #31 on: September 07, 2010, 11:00:20 PM »
Cruiser
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  LIFE AFTER AI: NEWS ON CLAY'S UPCOMING ALBUM (EXCERPT)
« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2003, 01:14:21 PM »   

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Life After AI: News on Upcoming Albums from American Idol Contestants
by L.C. Lee -- 08/26/2003

It seems like news is breaking almost every day about one former American Idol contestant or another. L.C. brings it all together to get us up to date on Clay, Ruben, Kim Locke, Trenyce, Vanessa, Nikki, and more!

Good thing American Idol 3 isn’t starting until January, because the TV show seems to be churning out idols much faster than the idols themselves can record their albums. As David Bloomberg mentioned in a previous article, the current projected release dates for Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard’s debut albums are October 14 and November 11, respectively. While some Clay and Ruben fans have emailed me expressing their outrage over the repeated delays, pushing back a release date is fairly standard with musical releases these days. I think it’s quite a feat that Clay and Ruben will likely both have albums completed within five months after the end of AI2.

Beyond all the release date hoopla, I’ve put together a rundown of recent news and insights regarding the upcoming albums from Clay, Ruben, and other American Idol finalists.

Clay Aiken: In addition to information provided earlier in my article previewing Clay’s album, a cover of Leo Sayer’s “When I Need You” has been added to the self-titled album. Not sure why Clay feels the need to cover this particular song, considering we’ve already heard cover versions from Rod Stewart and Celine Dion. This song is borderline cheese, but should allow Clay to showcase his phenomenal belting range.

A new clip of Clay’s “I Will Carry You” has been leaked to Promosquad.com, and I am liking this song even more after hearing this clip. A bridge, with a sudden crescendo, has been added. Very nice added touch, which keeps the song from sounding too formulaic. With this new version being leaked, it leads me to believe that the clips that surfaced at Pickthehits.com last week could be headed back into the lab for further mixing. If this is the case, it’s nice to see that Clive Davis/RCA have emphasized quality control.

Much to the delight of Claymates I’m sure, Clay has confirmed that there will be no duets on his album. A Clay & Ruben duet on Ruben’s album is still a possibility, but no word on it since Simon Fuller brought up the idea in June.

I have received a flurry of emails from Claymates regarding the possibility of a Grammy nomination for Clay. I’m no expert on the Grammy scene, but I do think that Clay deserves strong consideration for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for “This Is the Night.” It doesn’t look like there’s too much competition this year – there are some big names (Luther Vandross, Brian McKnight, R. Kelly, Craig David, Justin Timberlake, John Mayer), but none of their releases were anything mind-blowing. Clay should have a shot. And quite frankly, Clay’s “This is the Night” is the best male pop vocal performance of the year. That said, bias in the music business may keep him out of the running.

American Idol Christmas CD: A Christmas CD featuring American Idol contestants is currently scheduled to be released October 14 (I’ve also heard November, so it could get pushed back) and is tentatively titled Idol Christmas. Clay, Ruben, Tamyra, Justin Guarini, Kelly Clarkson, and possibly more will be recording songs for the album. Justin has already recorded “I’ll be Home for Christmas” for the CD. I imagine the 19 Entertainment cross promotion machine will be marketing the X-Mas CD on the coattails of Clay’s and Ruben’s upcoming albums.

For those who have emailed me inquiring about the American Idol tour special on Fox, a date has been scheduled: September 24. Just in time to promote Clay’s and Ruben’s upcoming albums. How convenient.

This should prove to be an interesting fall/winter as several idols are graduating from reality TV contestants to professional recording artists. Will they be able to kick down the door and prove their worth as legitimate artists? Or will doors be slammed on them due to the stigma of being associated with a manufactured talent show? Only time will tell…

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #32 on: September 07, 2010, 11:01:42 PM »
Cruiser
CLAY IS THE COVER STORY - ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
« Reply #32 on: August 30, 2003, 01:23:31 PM »   

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And The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth!
Entertainment Weekly

At some point since the cheesy early Guarini-esque ballads, the ubiquitous Ford Focus commercials, and the sad-sack lone dance move (you know the one, the shoulder pump crossed with the knee bend), ''American Idol'' runner-up Clay Aiken has become one of the most natural, confident, and addictive voices in contemporary pop music.
And thanks to his ''superstar Eye''-popping physical makeover and his show-stopping vocal range, he's emerged as the biggest star from ''Idol'''s second season.
Earlier this summer, his debut release, ''This Is the Night''/''Bridge Over Troubled Water,'' shot straight to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, trounced the offering from ''American Idol'' winner Ruben Studdard by 200,000 copies, and became the fastest-selling single since Elton John's ''Candle in the Wind 1997.'' ''I was going to be a teacher or a principal,'' Aiken, 24, says of his pre-''Idol'' plans. ''Thank Jesus I came back for the wild-card show!''
We'll give up a hallelujah as well. With the Backstreet Boys MIA and Justin Timberlake essentially an R&B artist, the world needs a new prince of pop. ''There's a lot of singers that have incredible instruments,'' says Steve Ferrera, RCA Records' senior vice president of A&R, who, along with mogul Clive Davis and ''Idol'' creator Simon Fuller, is helping to oversee Aiken's musical output. ''Clay is one of those rare singers who has the chops, but he's also able to make the connection to the lyric. So when some people might be just doing vocal histrionics, he's imbuing the lyric with passion and feeling.''
Although cuddly crooner Studdard won the right to release his CD first, the pair's labels, RCA and J Records, have now pulled a Rehnquist and reversed America's decision, opting to debut Aiken's album on Oct. 14, a month before Studdard's. ''It was with Ruben's blessing,'' insists a rep for both singers, adding that Studdard isn't finished recording yet. ''He didn't want to hold up Clay's record.'' That's the noncynical take. Here's another: ''Idol'' execs recognized they were wrong to throw so much weight behind Studdard during the competition. (Some speculated they did so because they were afraid to be put in the position of having to back Aiken, who was rumored to be gay. The singer has said he is straight.)
Publicly, ''Idol'' judge Simon Cowell says marketing Aiken is a no-brainer. ''He is the clean-cut American boy, and he has the advantage of being able to appeal to 3-year-olds and 80-year-olds with pretty much pure pop music.'' Aiken's life story, which resonates with so many, is also a draw. ''If I was naming Clay's album, I'd call it 'The American Dream,' because he encapsulates all of that,'' Cowell says. ''He is the American dream, which is the geeky little kid who went on to win over the hearts of America through a singing competition.'' (Start lobbying, Simon: Aiken has yet to decide on an album title.)

(This is an online-only excerpt of Entertainment Weekly's Sept. 5, 2003, cover story.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
 
 
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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #33 on: September 07, 2010, 11:04:00 PM »
Cruiser
NEW YORK METRO - THE UN-STAR SYSTEM
« Reply #33 on: September 04, 2003, 12:40:01 AM »   

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The Un-Star System
The 10,000 kids who swarmed the Javits Center last week weren't just angling for American Idol-dom. They were rallying against the record industry.
By Simon Dumenco
 
Somewhere in the jumble of bodies sprawled across the sidewalks outside the Javits Center, there is, quite possibly, a future American Idol. It’s after midnight on Monday, August 25, the day of the New York auditions for the third season of the Fox-network megahit, and as I check out this rather astonishing encampment of thousands of kids on sleeping bags and inflatable mattresses—even in pup tents—I’m thinking about how elusive star quality is these days.
Nobody would have been able to pick last season’s winner and runner-up out of a lineup, either. Ruben Studdard is an obese food addict whose face, in performance, is perpetually streaked by rivers of flop sweat. Clay Aiken is an underfed, flappy-eared Fievel Mousekewitz look-alike whose pants always seem like they’re about to slide off his non-hips. But both can sing real pretty.
The kids here at the Javits seem so boundlessly optimistic that, honestly, it embarrasses me. They have something like abject longing in their faces. It’s a vastly different sort of longing, though, from what you’d see among the encampments that form outside concert venues before, say, Justin Timberlake tickets go on sale. The desire there is to engage in group worship. The desire here is to attain group worship.
For that reason, I realize, I find myself repeatedly looking away—exercising the same sort of denial mechanism that kicks in when homeless people attempt to make eye contact. These moppets—oh, man, look at that Christina Aguilera wannabe strumming her guitar on a blanket!—are so brazenly starving for attention that it’s unnerving. All this naked desire to be nakedly desired.
But, of course, American Idol amounts to much more than just the aggregated neediness of its most eager participants. As a mass phenomenon, it suggests multiple, intertwined orders of psychopathology: the culture at large gorging on hordes of fresh “talent.” A populace parodying the idea of democracy by choosing exactly the entertainment it wants (and deserves). And, perhaps most pointedly, the fame factory engaging in a sort of ritualized cycle of bingeing and purging.
You were hoping, perhaps, that the whole American Idol thing would have blown over by now. If so, you were probably heartened by the poor box-office showing, earlier this summer, of the breathtakingly lame Idol movie, From Justin to Kelly (starring the first-season’s runner-up and winner), and the generally lackluster ratings performance of American Juniors, the disturbing kiddie version of the show that just ended its first (and possibly only) season.
But these were mere spinoffs, attempts to leverage and milk the brand. The core product itself not only shows every sign of being unstoppable but may just permanently alter the way the music industry molds and markets talent.
Consider the stakes: 24 million votes (almost evenly split down the middle) poured in for Ruben and Clay during American Idol’s second-season finale in May—which drew 34 million viewers (more than the Oscars). Clay and Ruben then went on to score Top 10 singles. In fact, Clay’s “This Is the Night” held the No. 1 spot for ten weeks and went platinum in July, the first single this year to sell more than a million copies. (Platinum singles are surprisingly rare and hard-won. Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part II,” for instance, took decades to turn platinum—it was one of only two singles certified platinum in 2001.) Clay’s sales are all the more staggering when you consider that his single doesn’t even have a video on MTV yet. (It’s currently in postproduction; Matthew Rolston shot it in mid-July.) Ruben, meanwhile, does have a Top 10 MTV video, and his single, already certified gold, is probably just weeks away from turning platinum, too. Both singers will release full-length albums—Clay in October, Ruben in November—that are guaranteed to be among the year’s uncontested blockbusters. And the “American Idols Live” tour, headlined by Ruben and Clay—and sponsored by, I’m not kidding you, Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts—has packed arenas in 39 cities.
Even Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner—who would surely much rather be giving his buddy Mick Jagger five-star reviews than paying attention to all this American Idol nonsense—has succumbed to the marketing magic of Clay and Ruben. Over the years, Rolling Stone insiders have told me that male stars on the cover generally don’t do well on the newsstand, which is why everyone from Eminem to Justin Timberlake has had to up the ante by submitting to the homoerotic topless, baby-oiled treatment. Clay and Ruben (thank God!) didn’t have to take off their shirts to score their own Rolling Stone covers, in July and August, respectively, and Clay (both he and Ruben are Baptists) was even allowed to wear his own W.W.J.D. bracelet, surely a first for the magazine.
It’s entirely possible, of course, that Wenner assumed it stood for What Would Jann Do? The answer, obviously, is Follow the Money.
What’s most remarkable about the American Idol phenomenon is how quickly it has hijacked the recording industry. Producing legend Clive Davis is masterminding both singers’ records, Clay has lined up a cast of heavy-hitters to produce tracks, and Ruben has lured artists ranging from R. Kelly to Missy Elliott to serve as collaborators.
Talent has seemingly come out of nowhere before, but “nowhere” has almost always been the record industry’s farm system. Eminem, for instance, was hand-picked by an L.A. radio D.J. and carefully nurtured in the studio by rap impresario Dr. Dre before emerging, seemingly overnight, as a fully formed icon. Christina Aguilera spent years as a diva-in-training, putting in time as a Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club and recording a laboratory-tested song for a Disney movie soundtrack before breaking out with “Genie in a Bottle.” Justin Timberlake was famously cast by a boy-band impresario in ’NSync—a band whose seemingly overnight success in the U.S. was actually the culmination of a phased roll-out in Europe during the mid-nineties. The bottom line is that most A-list artists require years, and millions of dollars, of investment.
Now we’ve got Clay and Ruben, whom nobody—not a soul in the record industry—had heard of before this spring, and they’re already on track to become among the best-selling recording artists of our time.
There’s a limit, of course, to how many American Idols can be churned out—and lots of people will argue that Clay and Ruben are mere flashes in the pan whose careers can’t possibly endure. But to the record industry, it really doesn’t matter if they quickly fade—and not only because Clay and Ruben are creating instant dynastic wealth for American Idol creator Simon Fuller (who also controls their recording careers) and his partners. (Watch for Ruben and Clay to bitterly recount the terms of their contracts on Behind the Music five or ten years from now; for instance, the singers reportedly get a mere $5,000 per stop on the Pop-Tart tour.)
Not only is American Idol a reality-TV blockbuster, but it’s harnessed the reality-TV genre to show the fast-fading recording industry a new path to riches: turning poorly paid nobodies into overnight pop-cultural icons, with virtually none of the usual behind-the-scenes primping and preening. Turns out the record industry’s star-making machinery becomes entirely irrelevant when you really let the market decide.
In the same way that network executives have had to get used to the idea that television—its aesthetics and its economics—has been permanently transformed by the reality-TV phenomenon, record executives are going to have to live with an infrastructure upended by the American Idol effect.
The farm system seems suddenly useless. Megastars, it turns out, can be born with hardly any help at all from the usual cabal of A&R guys, talent coordinators, publicists, and image consultants.
For now, the industry’s bingeing on American Idol’s spoils, but it’s pretty clear what—and who—is going to end up getting purged in the end.

NEW YORK METRO

EDIT - The video for This is the Night has reportedly been scrapped. - Cruiser
 
 
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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #34 on: September 07, 2010, 11:04:50 PM »
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ROLLING STONE - CLAY IS HOT!
« Reply #34 on: September 05, 2003, 03:52:32 PM »   

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"The hottest artists at Rollingstone.com for the week of Aug. 31, 2003."

1. Clay Aiken
   

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #35 on: September 07, 2010, 11:06:02 PM »
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  THE IDOL FROM UNCC - COLLEGIATE STANDARD MAGAZINE
« Reply #35 on: September 07, 2003, 12:16:49 AM »   

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The Idol from UNC-C
 - Wayne Cooper

Clay was crying in the Fox TV Red Room after his friend and fellow contestant, Kimberly, was voted off American Idol. He was holed up in there and needed time to compose himself before he could come out and face the Newsweek reporter milling around waiting to interview him. Simon the Judge, blew a whorl of smoke from his Kool cigarette, and made a comment that if there were actual tears coming from Clay, then the tears were tears of relief - that it was Kimberly and not him who was voted off the show. The cynical critic was not buying that Clay’s heart was breaking for Kimberly. But millions of fans, mostly women, believe that Clay’s sincerity is one of a kind; and many believe genuineness is one of the qualities that makes him so appealing.

For an artist, Clay’s fans are to die for. During his run on American Idol, there was an around the clock 24 hours a day/7days a week prayer chain for Clay; at any moment in time there was someone somewhere assigned to pray for Clay Aiken. One new mother named her son, Christopher Clayton - after Clay (A Fox TV producer convinced Clay to change his name from Clayton to Clay). High school girls say they are inspired to alter their attitudes toward the geeky kids at school because of Clay. Young boys are asking for a Clay when they go get their hair cut. There’s the Claymates, a group of girls and women whose ages range from 15 to 68. How about the Claynadians, fans from Canada? He has fans from all over the world. “Clay puts love and joy out there. He gets it back and gives it out again, That’s why we stay in love with him,” explains one of his legion. “And when he smiles he just has you smiling back. He is thoroughly enjoying himself and we enjoy him back.”

The passion of Clay’s fans rivals the Beatles’ in their heyday. At the height of Beatlemania, John Lennon complained that wherever they played, the disabled in their wheelchairs were always placed on the front rows, a wall of imperfect flesh, separating the group from the young healthy teenagers screaming for them. But there is no way you would ever hear Clay Aiken complain if the infirmed were occupying the front rows of his performances. On the contrary, he paid his dues with service to the needy out of his compassion, before he became famous, unlike the celebrities who make a public show of their charitable sides when the camera light turns red and a tax deduction plan is in the works. Some of Clay’s fans report that when he sang, they were freed emotionally and physically from areas of their lives that held them in bondage for years in prisons of misery. Mimi Shinn knows. Her teenage autistic son, Nicolas, was one of Clay’s charges when he was in the final throes of a special education degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She remembers the first time Clay showed up at their home: "There is something about Clayton - he just walks into a room and fills up the room," Mimi says.

Not so when he walked into the judges’ room of American Idol for the first time. "When he walked in, let's face it, he looked like he had two satellite dishes growing out of his head," said the show's co-executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe. There’s Clay, on the audition tape, feebly announcing to Simon and Randy, the show’s judges, that he is “the American Idol”, nervously shifting his weight from his toes to his heels, looking like what you’d expect the little brother of the Jerry Lewis character in The Nutty Professor to look like. Reedy, bespectacled, a goofish grinner with hidden assorted physical and psychological baggage. Clay’s fear of water is so intense that when the finalists of AI were touring the mansion in LA where they would be housed, he refused to go down the steps leading to the swimming pool. He’s allergic to coffee, chocolate, mint and shellfish. He required three cortisone injections to quell an allergic reaction just prior to his performance of Billy Joel's "Tell Her About It" on AI, after he inadvertently ate mint in a fruit salad. And he’s prone to eccentricity: it was reported on the TV show The View that he chews his toenails.

But Clay has a set of pipes and his stage presence is underestimated.
When he appeared on Oprah with Ruben, tears welled his eyes and both sides of his cheek muscles quivered like the hearts of unrequited lovers as he held the last note of his ballad. The audience collapsed into meltdown and Oprah took his hand in hers and preserved it with an extended period of tenderness - even for Oprah. Many point to his singing voice as the source of his appeal. Who can argue? Roger Shuford, the pastor of Leesville Baptist Church in Raleigh, where Clay sang and attended church, said, “It's amazing to watch him. When he feels a song you can see it all over his face.” One of his friends from Raleigh, Suzanne, writes on a Clay web site, “His voice is an incredible gift from God and he acknowledges that, and desires to share those gifts with the world.” Another NC friend, Cara, says, "I can remember all of the talent shows at summer camp where I would wait all summer just to hear the sound of Clay's voice. His voice takes me to another place. It is so inspirational.”

During an Idol show, when Clay had performed ‘Solitaire’, a teary-eyed Neil Sedaka, said of the haunting song he had penned before Clay was born, that from that day forward it would be remembered as a Clay song.
There are few voices as pure as Clay’s. Frances Wilson, a friend, said she first heard Clay sing in church when he was 13. "He blew me away. This tiny little boy with red hair and wire-rimmed glasses and a bow tie - and that incredible voice," she said. During an interview with Leigh Dyer of the Charlotte Observer, Clay’s mother, Faye Parker, talked about how Clay started singing “country music one-liners when he was less than a year and a half old. “The first song I remember him singing was ‘Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys’. At the Sears store where she worked, he’d get a $1 from her co-workers to stand on a counter and sing. "I knew he had something special”, Parker says. “I knew God gave him a great voice.”

Friends who know him say his sense of humor is one of his most appealing traits. “Clay can make me pee in my pants on a regular basis. He is seriously one of the funniest guys I know,” says Christie. Meredith Cox, who worked with him at the A.E. Finley YMCA on Baileywick Road in Raleigh, says he has a wicked sense of humor. "These days, he really gets stereotyped as being this sweet Southern Baptist boy," Cox said. "He is all that, but he also is this really funny guy. He can just be really witty and sarcastic."

Clay never curses. He doesn’t believe in premarital sex either. He has a profound respect for his mother that is reminiscent of a young Elvis. He even legally changed the name he was born with, Grissom, to Aiken, the maiden name of his mother. But he credits his biological father for helping make him the man he is today. In an interview in Rolling Stone he says, “If I have anything good to say about him, it's that I think I learned to be who I am by being everything he wasn't,'' he said. “Part of the reason I don't smoke is that he did. He drank, and I don't. He's a racist, and I'm not. I don't want anything to do with any of that.''

Fortunately, he has different feelings for his step father, Ray Parker, whom he loves. And Clay was always Parker’s favorite singer. He encouraged him to sing and landed him a position in his brother’s country band when he was a teenager. Unfortunately Parker never saw Clay make it nationally: he died of lung disease just four months before Clay auditioned for American Idol. But not before he endued Clay with a groundedness that belies his 24 years.

"I'm really a person who likes stability," says the unlikely idol. "That's probably why I never pursued music, because there's no guarantees when it comes to music... of where your next paycheck's going to be, and all that type of stuff. I really appreciate the stability of working as a special ed teacher. To see my name in lights has never really been a dream of mine. I’m perfectly happy teaching. I really, honest to God, am.”

He admits he is the first person to be surprised with his astounding success. "It's been so fast paced, so exciting. I could have never dreamed this happening to me," he says. "It's been surreal. But I’ll be honest, when I got to the ‘X-Men’ premiere, and everyone’s looking at me, and when I go home and I’m on the front page of both the papers, there is a little bit of me that doesn’t want it to stop,” Aiken says. “After you’ve finally seen how cool it can be, it is kind of contagious. But what comes out of this is what God wants to happen. I totally rely on him to put me where He wants to put me and He did that. I never would have auditioned for something like this. He allowed this to happen to me.”

Clay’s mother, Faye, says she hopes the experience doesn’t change him too much and, no, he doesn’t have a steady girlfriend yet. From the millions of girls and women who adore Clay Aiken, the one who will hold his interest, in his own words, “I’m interested in a lady that is into helping other people and not one who is primped, and curled, and permed and very materialistic.”

A girl like his mother, no doubt.

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #36 on: September 07, 2010, 11:12:07 PM »
Cruiser
Guest
  WAKE WEEKLY ARTICLE - MAY 2003
« Reply #36 on: September 08, 2003, 12:15:36 AM »   

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American idol has local ties
by Colleen Lowry, Wake Weekly Staff Writer
May 1, 2003

Millions of American Idol fans have recently developed "Clay fever," supporting Raleigh's Clay Aiken in his quest for stardom, but one Youngsville woman has had the condition since her half-sister gave birth to Clay 24 years ago.
Donna McGhee, Clay's aunt, packs her car with Clay memorabilia each week to sell at the Raleighwood dinner theatre, where dozens of fans meet to watch Clay compete in one the nation's highest rated television shows.
American Idol is in its second season and more popular than ever. Tens of thousands of young adults auditioned before three judges in the entertainment industry to be selected for the next round in Hollywood. Viewers then vote to push their favorites into the final 12 and beyond. Those 12 perform each Tuesday night before a live studio audience, and the one who receives the fewest votes is eliminated from competition each week.
After Tuesday's performance this week, Clay was voted through to the final four.
It's showtime
"He's doing so good," McGhee says while watching him on the big screen. She is part of a group that religiously makes the weekly trek to Raleighwood to join a packed room of Clay supporters.
Every week Raleighwood is filled to capacity, McGhee said, and Tommy from the Bob and Madison's Showgram on G105 is there giving out prizes weekly.
"I am so glad to see all this support," McGhee said.
Clay is last to sing on this particular night, and when it's finally his turn, McGhee and her friend, Jean Hester, look over his outfit to see if he's wearing the clothes they advised.
"He finally listened!" Hester said. "That's what I told him he should wear!"
McGhee and her best friend, Mary Greene, huddle together staring intently at the screen as Clay belts out his rendition of Billy Joel's Tell Her About It. The audience goes wild when Clay hits a big note and the smile on McGhee's face gets even bigger.
Pleased with his performance, it was time to phone in their votes to keep Clay on the program for another week.
"He did great! He looked so good," McGhee said. Her sister, Joan Mabrey, chimes in, "He was wonderful!"
The next night, the results are revealed, again, live on television. But instead of heading out to Raleighwood, McGhee joins about 15 to 25 close friends and family at Clay's mother's house in Raleigh for the viewing. And to their delight, he gets enough votes to stay in the running.
The real Clay
Clay is an avid volunteer and has done a lot of work with students with autism and other developmental disabilities. In fact, he is scheduled to graduate from UNC-Charlotte this May with a degree in special education.
McGhee, owner of the jewelry design business B'jeweled, has been busy creating pendants and several different T-shirt designs to sell each week.
The Clay memorabilia has been selling like crazy, McGhee said, and not just locally. All of the proceeds are going to different charities, including the student council for exceptional children at UNCC and programs supporting autistic children. This is Clay's wish, McGhee said. "He's a great kid. He's just a good, young Christian boy," she said. "Clay is quite a giver."
Clay was born and raised in Raleigh and graduated from Leesville Road High School in 1997. McGhee says singing has always been a part of his life -- in the Raleigh Boys Choir, Raleigh Little Theatre, the North Carolina Theatre. She remembers a time when Clay's mother and grandmother would bring him to work with them at Sears, and "he would stand on the countertop and entertain customers."
Clay's talent has always been a source of comfort for the family, said McGhee. When his grandfather passed away, they asked him to sing at the funeral. As long as he could stand behind a screen so he didn't have to see his family's emotional reactions he could do it, he told her. So he sang Sheltered in the Arms "and he did such a good job," McGhee said. "And when he finished ... he just hugged my neck and lost it."
Raleighwood to Hollywood
Just last week, McGhee and several other family members flew out to Los Angeles to be part of the live studio audience for the show and support Clay in person.
McGhee's 76-year-old mother, Amaryllis -- "Nanny" to Clay -- had never been on an airplane before, but she said she has never missed one of Clay's performances and she wasn't about to start now.
Amaryllis says she has talked to Clay on the phone and he doesn't seem to be too nervous. "He's so relaxed anyway. He's so used to being in front of an audience," she said. And though she is a bit biased, she thinks Clay might go all the way and win the competition.
"He's just such a super guy ... in his manners and in his singing," Amaryllis said. "I just feel like he's going to make it. And if he doesn't, he'll get something out of it."
Amaryllis' plane ride was a success, McGhee said. "She did great. She'd never been on a subway before either, and she did that," McGhee said. "She had a good time."
The American Idol host even gave Amaryllis the pleasure of introducing her grandson on live television when it was time for him to perform.
Watching Clay on the stage was quite different than seeing him on a big screen, McGhee said.
"The set is totally different from what you see on television," McGhee said after the family got back last Thursday.
They were able to spend three evenings with Clay after three consecutive nights of live television shows. And everywhere they went, he was recognized "big time," McGhee said.
Clay told her that sometimes he isn't even able to eat when he goes out because he is bombarded by fans. "You don't understand," he told her; "everybody attacks me."
Sure enough, during a walk on the boardwalk in Santa Monica, fans swarmed in begging for autographs once they realized it was Clay.
McGhee said Clay seems a bit homesick and misses his family and friends. The contestants will tour the country performing for two months this summer, and she said they are planning a family cookout for him when the tour makes it to Raleigh.
She said Clay has been educating those in Hollywood about the South.
"He says Raleigh is like Mayberry" compared to Los Angeles, McGhee said. "And he's told them all about pig pickin's."
American Idol airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox, and the results of the votes are announced each Wednesday at 8:30 p.m, also on Fox. McGhee encourages everyone to watch Clay perform, then call in your vote to make her nephew America's newest star.

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #37 on: September 07, 2010, 11:16:01 PM »
Cruiser

  EASTERN WAKE NEWS ARTICLE - JULY 2003
« Reply #37 on: September 08, 2003, 12:47:27 PM »   

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Fan finds an 'Idol' in Aiken
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
By MICHAEL A. BELL

ZEBULON NC - "American Idol" wannabe Clay Aiken of Raleigh has an abundance of fans across the entire nation, but none like Zebulon native Bonnie Parrish.

Aside from her "Clay Mobile" - the Nissan Maxima which displays support aphorisms all over it - she wears T-shirts and buttons parading his portrait and even a "Clay" silver slide around her neck. "I just want everyone to know about him," Parrish said, adding she has practically forced her adoration on all her Debnam Insurance co-workers and customers. "They have no choice but to like him."

About five years ago, Parrish and her sister-in-law were at a country music amateur show in Garner NC. The show was hosted by the now-famous/then-unknown Aiken, and he also performed a song called "Heroes" as a tribute to the autistic children he works alongside. A video played behind the song showing those less fortunate.

When he started singing, Parrish and her travel companion looked at each other "with our mouths wide open," she said. "Wow. That said a lot about him."

She promptly "stampeded" into the lobby to buy his tape which included Christian songs with proceeds benefiting autism research. From that point on, Parrish followed him around Selma and Dunn to various appearances.

"Those of us that are Clay fans are fans not just because of his beautiful, pure voice and the magic that's about him, but because of his caring and his work with children," Parrish said. Aiken has already admitted on the big stage he was pursuing a UNC-Charlotte "special education" degree before his big break occurred on one of prime-time television's highest Nielsen-rated programs.

If "our youth" must have an "idol," then Aiken represents the "character and values" our young need to look up to today, Parrish said.

Much to her delight last fall, she saw Aiken audition as an "American Idol" contestant hoping to follow in the footsteps of Kelly Clarkson (the show's first winner who later released a No. 1 single and has a major motion picture in the works), Justin Guarini (the one with the "Sideshow Bob" hair and a co-starring feature film role) and Tamyra Gray (currently enjoying an acting run on the "Boston Public" Fox series).

Even though his advancement to the finals may have been a shocker to many, she knew his destination of stardom long before anyone else. "We can always say we knew him back when," Parrish added.

She even took the artistic passion for Aiken internationally. "I have three Canadian e-mail buddies," she said. "They love Clay." Weekly call-in voting, however, is not open to anyone across the border.

She mentioned fans have surfaced because of his heartfelt songs, and she even received a call at 2 a.m. from one of those "addicted" to the unlikely heartthrob. "We now have a large group (some Watkins Chapel Baptist Church members included) going to Raleighwood on Tuesday night to cheer him on. You would not believe some of the age groups we have convinced to watch Clay on American Idol and vote. I have personally cast 1,391 votes for him."

His soaring public popularity paid huge dividends before the final dozen performers were culled from thousands of candidates. Originally passed over in the semifinal round, Aiken was invited back for a "wild card" edition where four more were selected. There, he answered the bell with the most phone calls to advance.

Now not only is he living in a multimillion-dollar Los Angeles, Calif., mansion, but he also received ringing endorsement from one celebrity judge. Toughest panel critic Simon Cowell told an Entertainment Weekly magazine writer in the March 28 edition: "You might as well end the competition right now. You have to put your money on Clay. I just can't see anyone beating him at this point."

Though that source radiates irritation on occasion, at least Parrish appreciates the opinion. "He does give honest criticism," she said of the top insult dog infamous for brutal retorts, even when addressing fellow talent evaluators Paul Abdul and Randy Jackson.

Even though the prominent comments may mean Parrish has hitched her bandwagon to the right budding star, she still bites her nails every Tuesday and Wednesday night in front of the tube. "We can't hardly stand it, we are so nervous for him," she said. "It's been fun having people see our buttons and comment on the car."

She has even joined the topic of conversation because of her unbridled enthusiasm. New people approach her and talk, lightening her days. However, her zealousness doesn't please everyone - namely, her uninterested brother. "I know he's tired of hearing Clay, Clay, Clay," but "we don't care," Parrish declared. "We're just excited to be able to be a part of this journey he's on. We're having so much fun."

She promptly calls herself the self-appointed "president" of the Clay Aiken fan club and even cites Scripture to reinforce her support. "He's inspirational, and something magical about him comes out when he performs," said Parrish. "He wants to make a difference, and it takes a special person to work with special-need children."

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #38 on: September 07, 2010, 11:16:37 PM »
Cruiser
  UNCC NINERONLINE - MUSIC REVIEW
« Reply #38 on: September 09, 2003, 12:42:58 AM »   

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Aiken's 'Invisible' debuts online at AOL First Launch Music
First single heralds new sound for UNCC crooner
by Nick Smith - Special to NinerOnline.com
September 07, 2003

UNC Charlotte's very own Clay Aiken, runner up on the most recent season of "American Idol," is looking to beat out "Idol" winner Ruben Studdard in the only competition that really matters -- the charts -- with his October 14 debut release "Measure of a Man."
If first single "Invisible" is any indication, he should have no problem making himself very visible on radio play lists across the country.
One common criticism Aiken has had to endure is that his powerful voice is more suited to slow ballads or Broadway-style tunes than pop music, but "Invisible" goes a long way to answering those naysayers.
In the same way "Miss Independent" showcased a new sound and style for former "Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson, "Invisible" gives Aiken a chance to branch out from the type of music he's done so far and to prove his staying power is far more potent than many might believe.
Though the song, about the difficulties of being "invisible" to the person you want to be with, features lyrics that could be considered vaguely stalker-esque ("If I was invisible/I could just watch you in your room"). The upbeat and jaunty music and Aiken's inimitable delivery make it a lively and hopeful number.
Much faster than anything Aiken's done to this point, the tune nevertheless gives him a chance to let out the full power of his voice, creating the same sort of chill-inducing moments he was known for on the show.
Critics may still attack the song for being somewhat overproduced -- the music is big and bold and there's a plethora of background vocals -- but considering Aiken himself is doing much of the background work, it's difficult to find a reason to hold it against him.
While maybe not as earth-shattering as his powerful re-imagining of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" or his show-stopping "Solitaire," "Invisible" does prove that Aiken's got what it takes to forge a successful pop career after all, and makes one very excited to hear the rest when "Measure of a Man" hits in October.

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #39 on: September 07, 2010, 11:18:35 PM »
Cruiser
SOUR GRAPES FROM SIMON COWELL - REALITY TV WORLD ARTICLE
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2003, 11:24:44 AM »   

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'Idol' judge Simon Cowell says Clay Aiken's success due solely to choice of song
By AyaK, 09/10/2003

The sniping from American Idol judge Simon Cowell toward Idol runner-up Clay Aiken may have begun during American Idol 2, but it clearly isn't over yet. Entertainment Weekly (subscription required) reports that Simon dismisses Clay's chart success compared to Idol winner Ruben Studdard -- and even his platinum single -- as merely a consequence of Clay's decision to cover Paul Simon's "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

Said Simon, "'If Ruben had had 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' on his record, he'd have had the No. 1. I think that was the hit song. If you asked 100 record buyers who bought Clay's single 'What song did you want to buy?' I wouldn't be surprised if 70 percent at least said 'Bridge Over Troubled Water.' People will disagree, but that's my opinion.'' During Idol, Simon had dismissed the featured side of Clay's single, "This Is The Night," as "''American Idol: The Musical."

For his part, Clay doesn't want to get involved in yet another Clay-versus-Ruben battle. ''The whole country wants Ruben and me to be at each other's throats. We spent nine months competing with each other. And we both got what we wanted. He's got a title, and I'm nothing but proud of him." Makes sense to us.

We have no way of knowing what portion of Simon's comments were motivated by his real opinion and what portion were motivated by his desire to protect his reputation, since Entertainment Weekly notes that he seemed to favor Ruben consistently during the latter stages of Idol. However, we find ourselves in the awkward position of simultaneously agreeing and disagreeing with Simon.

As we reported here, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has indeed become the featured side of Clay's single, at least in our opinion as well as Simon's -- and in the opinion of Nielsen SoundScan, which has been listing "Bridge" as the featured side for several weeks. On the other hand, any hit is due to both song selection AND performance, and "Bridge" (like many of the songs associated with Art Garfunkel) fits comfortably into Clay's style and range of singing but doesn't appear to fit Ruben's.

We detect a slight aroma of sour grapes eminating from the direction of Simon Cowell ... a sensation that is strengthened by reading Simon's characterization of Clay as "the geeky little kid who went on to win over the hearts of America through a singing competition." We tend to think that such a characterization could also be applied to Mr. Cowell himself.



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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2010, 12:41:17 AM »
Cruiser
CLAY #1 FOR 11TH WEEK ON BILLBOARD HOT 100 SINGLES CHART
« Reply #40 on: September 12, 2003, 12:30:13 PM »   

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Quote
The Hot 100's fastest-growing track at retail is Jagged Edge's "Walked Outta Heaven," which gains 65-58. "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken continues to enjoy the No. 1-selling single in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, with his "This is the Night/Bridge Over Troubled Water." The cut has led Billboard's Hot 100 Singles Sales tally for 11 non-consecutive weeks.

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2010, 12:42:01 AM »
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Guest
  CLAY VISITS UNC CHARLOTTE - ARTICLE
« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2003, 12:33:20 PM »   

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Quote
Aiken visits old school with TV crew in tow
Album coming out Oct. 14
CHRIS KEANE/STAFF - The Charlotte Observer   
 
Clay Aiken made an unannounced visit to the UNC Charlotte campus Wednesday, trailed by a crew filming a segment about the "American Idol" runner-up for NBC's "Dateline." Aiken, a former UNCC student, just wrapped up a national concert tour. He has more than a dozen appearances scheduled on national television and in magazines, ranging from "Primetime Live" to People, in the weeks leading up to the Oct. 14 release of his album.   

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2010, 12:42:41 AM »
Pamela
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CLAY AND RUBEN MINI CONCERT FOR FORD
« Reply #42 on: September 15, 2003, 12:16:41 AM »   

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Adcraft will kick off its 2003-04 meeting season on a high note (literally) on Thursday, September 25. We’ll feature two new faces from last year’s television season, who are now two of the fastest-rising names on the musical charts: Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, stars of FOX-TV’s “American Idol.” The pair will treat Adcrafters to a mini-concert at our annual “Ford Motor Company Day” at the Ford Conference & Event Center. All seats in the main ballroom have been sold out, but seats were still available in the Center’s beautiful atrium, where the performance will be shown on a wide screen.

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #43 on: September 11, 2010, 12:43:39 AM »
Pamela
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CHARLOTTE OBSERVER - ARTICLE 9/17
« Reply #43 on: September 17, 2003, 05:47:45 PM »   

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Aiken will study and sing this fall - See him on pageant broadcast Saturday
MARK WASHBURN
TV/Radio Writer
   
"American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken, who sings this weekend at the mother of all scholarship pageants, says he'll finish his own degree this fall.
Aiken, who will sing his signature song, "This Is the Night," at the Miss America Pageant, said Tuesday that he is working out arrangements to complete his final hours at UNC Charlotte, where he is pursuing a special education degree.
"I'm hoping to graduate in December," he said. He said he will finish through a distance-learning regimen so he can continue his public appearances.
Aiken's song will be an opening act in the three-hour show from Atlantic City, N.J., which will air Saturday at 8 p.m. on WSOC (Channel 9).
Hurricane Isabel, on a track that could take it along the New Jersey coast late this week, doesn't worry Aiken.
"I'm from North Carolina, and we've survived a few hurricanes down here," he said. Aiken's family lost power for a week after Hurricane Fran pummeled Raleigh in 1996.

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Re: 2003: PRESS & MEDIA
« Reply #44 on: September 11, 2010, 12:44:21 AM »
Pamela
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CLAY TO SING AT PAGEANT - ARTICLE 9/19
« Reply #44 on: September 19, 2003, 11:21:13 AM »   

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Pageant looking to hook viewers
American Idol singer on boardwalk in N.J... He's got his favorite
By R.D. Heldenfels

Hurricanes don't worry Clay Aiken.
They should, since the American Idol runner-up could see the effects of Hurricane Isabel up close on Saturday night when he appears on ABC's Miss America telecast from coastal Atlantic City, N.J.
And when he talked to reporters via conference call earlier this week, he was at his North Carolina home, where people were also anticipating havoc from Isabel.
Still, he said, "We've survived a few hurricanes down here.... We're fully prepared. I think it will make the show more exciting.''
Besides, Aiken has been spending his time in a whirlwind.
His first album, Clay Aiken, recently ranked 20th on the amazon.com sales list and it does not hit stores until Oct. 14. He is nominated for an American Music Award for favorite male pop/rock artist -- against Kid Rock, John Mayer and Justin Timberlake.
The publicity machine has been endless if not always favorable. Entertainment Weekly put him on the cover -- of an issue about guilty pleasures.
"I've been on the road or in the air pretty much since the entire (American Idol) show ended,'' Aiken said.  "My schedule changes every day.... I have to be prepared for changes at any moment.''
Being home in North Carolina reminded him that he sometimes misses life before fame -- "getting to drive around and hang out with friends, and not having to worry about where I have to be and what photo shoot I have to do....
"But you take the good with the bad,'' he said.  "I think the benefits outweigh the downside.''
In fact, you could argue that Aiken is helping Miss America more than the telecast is helping him.
It's not as if he is going to unveil a new song to promote his album. No, it's This Is the Night that he will sing -- again -- during the three-hour telecast, which starts at 8 p.m. Saturday on ABC.
"This is the only song I sing that I don't get tired of singing,'' he said.  "It's going to be very poignant. It speaks a lot to what I was going through on the American Idol show, and the words speak a lot to what the ladies are going through on the pageant.''
And the pageant needs a boost from Aiken -- and other reality stars.
Aiken's American Idol series averaged about 21 million viewers according to Nielsen estimates. Last year, Miss America averaged about 12 million viewers.
Even more importantly, Miss America reached that many because of people tuning in near the end of the show to see who won. It started the night with 8.3 million viewers. So you can safely expect to see Aiken pretty early in Saturday's telecast.
You'll also be seeing a lot of Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter, the happy couple from The Bachelorette. ABC says they will "host a viewing party for some of their closest friends, as they invite the television audience to guess along with them about the evening's competition.''
Of course, ABC is hoping that those closest friends will include the 16.7 million people who watched The Bachelorette every week.
That said, Aiken also likes Miss America. While noting that it is "definitely flashier'' than it used to be, he thought it had values and a family-friendly attitude that fits well with his American Idol following.
"American Idol was very popular because it was a family show,'' he said. "Miss America is the same. It's very family-oriented. It's a safe show. People can sit and watch it together. I know I did with my mother and my father and my brother when I was younger.''
Besides, he said, "I kind of have a crush on Miss California.''
Aiken said that he and Idol winner Ruben Studdard went on the pageant's Web site -- www.missamerica.org -- and checked out all the contestants.
He and Studdard remain friends, talking every week, Aiken said. And it was Studdard who arranged for Aiken's album to be released first even though, as the winner, he could have made Aiken go second.
"Ruben is nothing if not a friend and a gentleman,'' Aiken said. When Studdard saw that Aiken's album was finished and he needed more time, Aiken said that "he made the decision that it didn't make sense for mine to sit around and wait.''
Aiken was very upbeat about his album, which he says is "definitely a pop album, so it's not a big departure for me. But there's a little bit of a rock edge.... I kind of compare it to a Steve Perry/Journey flavor, which is really stuff I grew up listening to, and I loved.''
But let's get back to that stuff about checking out the contestants.
Aiken said that his home state loyalty meant he had to root for Miss North Carolina to win -- and that he was sure that Studdard would be cheering for his state's Miss Alabama.
Still, he said, "I think Ruben was interested in Miss Hawaii, if I'm not mistaken.''
And Aiken had a good reason for Miss California not to win.
"If Miss California won Miss America, she wouldn't have time (for Aiken). She'd be too busy.... She can be first runner-up.''
Just like Aiken.

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