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American Idol

This section chronicles Clay's journey from his first audition in Charlotte to his triumphant and critically acclaimed performances on the American Idol 2 Summer Tour.

His other American Idol appearances are on this page. 

Thank you so much to Wowzers4Clay for her video links.


Fountaindawg's Recaps


Charlotte Audition - 10/17/02

Prior to his audition in Atlanta , Clay went to an audition in Charlotte . He sang "Somewhere over the Rainbow" . When he didn't make it, he decided to try again in Atlanta. 


Charlotte Audition - Over The Rainbow


Atlanta Audition - 11/1/02; broadcast - 1/28/03

Clay walked into the audition room wearing a striped button-down shirt, and was asked "Why are you here?” His answer: "I'm the American Idol." 

Clay sang an a capella version of "Always and Forever.” Randy said, “I say yes." Simon said, "You don't look like a Pop Star, but you've got a great voice". They sent him to Hollywood.


Atlanta Audition - Always and Forever

Hollywood : The Glendale Auditions - December 2002; broadcast 1/29/03. 

Clay sang for only a short time. It was a bit of a custom melody. For the group auditions he sang Superstar. Clay makes it into the top 32.


Glendale Audition - Superstar

Final 32 - Group 2 - 2/11/03 & 2/12/03

Competition: Clay was the first contestant to sing. After a short bio clip, he sang "Open Arms." He was wearing a suit with a lime-green button-down shirt.  

Results: He made it to the top 3 for the group, but Ruben Studdard and Kimberley Locke made it through to the final 10 and Clay was eliminated. Paula announced that Clay would definitely be in the Wildcard group.


Top 32 - Open Arms


Wildcard 3/4/03 - 3/5/03

Competition: A new bio clip discussed Clay's return for the Wildcard. Clay came out with an amazing rendition of "Don't Let the Sun Go down on me.”

Results: The results show seemed to drag out forever as the judges' picks came before America's pick. The last pick finally came and once Ryan said "Clay Aiken," Clay hugged everybody, including all of the contestants, judges (even Simon!), and Ryan Seacrest. After regaining his composure, Clay sang "Don't Let the Sun Go down on me” again.


DLTSGDOM On Wildcard Show


Motown - 3/11/03 & 3/12/03

Competition: Clay performed "I Can't Help Myself" and Lamont Dozier, the guest judge, said "You look like you've already arrived. You look like a professional.” Group Performance - "Heatwave".

Results: Vanessa Olivarez was voted out.


Motown - I Can't Help Myself


Movie - 3/18/03 & 3/19/03

Competition: Clay sang "Somewhere Out There", from the movie An American Tail. Simon said, "With that performance, you're the one they've got to beat.” Three judges gave him a standing ovation including Gladys Knight who said he was magic.

Results: Group Performances - "Footloose"  and "I've Had the Time of My Life" Charles Grigsby was voted out.


Somewhere Out There - Movie Night


Country - 3/25/03 & 3/26/03

Competition: Clay sang "Someone Else's Star." He got a standing ovation from Randy, Paula and Olivia Newton John, But Simon said his performance was too much like the previous week.

Results: Group Performances -"Where the Blacktop Ends" and "God Bless the USA" Ford Music Video - "Mustang Sally"
Feature - During an audience Q&A, a girl asks Clay who he would want to play him in a movie and Clay said, “Yahoo Serious, then he asked Ryan if he was available. Finally, they talked him into Brad Pitt. Julia DeMato was eliminated off the show.


Someone Else's Star - Country


Disco - 4/1/03 & 4/2/03

Competition: Clay sang "Everlasting Love". Randy said it was "Brilliant", Paula said his voice was "Golden.” The guest Judge from Earth, Wind, and Fire, Verdine White said "You can SING" but he didn't impress Simon.

Results: Group Performances - "A Night to Remember" and "Boogie Wonderland". Ford Music Video - "Car Wash". The contestants were shown recording "God Bless the USA", which will be released to benefit the Red Cross. No one was eliminated because Corey Clark was disqualified


Everlasting Love - Disco

Billboard #1 Hits - 4/8/03 & 4/9/03

Competition: Clay sings "At This Moment" by Billy Vera and the Beaters. Lionel Richie was in awe of Clay's voice: "Who is that guy?” Simon said "That song was perfect for you; absolutely on the Money, Well done!"

Results: Group performance - "All Night Long;" Ford Music Video - "Get Outta My Dreams" featuring Ruben and multiple Carmens. Feature - The contestants visit the Billboard offices. Rickey Smith was eliminated.


At This Moment - Billy Joel


Billy Joel - 4/15/03 & 4/16/03

Competition: Clay's Performance - "Tell Her about It." He started out slow but then picked up tempo for the chorus. Wore a black blazer and a blue shirt. Randy says "You did your thing", and Smokey Robinson said "You can sing anything".

Results: Group Performance - "For the Longest Time;" Ford Music Video - "Speed Racer;" Features - Contestants visit the set of Boston Public. Kimberly Caldwell was voted out.


Tell Her About It - Billy Joel

Halfway Home Special - 4/21/03

This was an hour-long special featuring the final six contestants. The judges were nowhere to be found, giving Ryan many opportunities to snark about them. Each contestant got their own segment, consisting of a video montage, a short interview with Ryan, and a performance of a song previously done on the series.

Clay was on last. In his interview, he discussed his love for teaching and how the show's stylists helped him improve his look. He then sang "Somewhere Out There.” The show ended with a group performance of "All Night Long."


Halfway Home - Somewhere Out There

Diane Warren - 4/22/03 & 4/23/03

Competition: Clay sings"I Could Not Ask For More." Randy says "We're trying to find the best in America, and every week, you come up with it. You are definitely one of the best in America." Paula says another great vocal performance, "Be truthful to yourself as an artist - Definite Contender for the finals." Diane Warren said, "Great. Wonderful."

Results: Group Performance - "Shine;" Ford Music Video "Fun, Fun, Fun;" Carmen Rasmussen was eliminated.


Diane Warren - I Could Not Ask For More

Neil Sedaka/60s - 4/29/03 & 4/30/03

Competition: Clay's Performance - On this night, they started singing 2 songs, "Build Me Up Buttercup"was followed by an amazing performance of "Solitaire." This was the night Neil Sedaka told Clay that "you sing like Andre Agassi plays tennis - PERFECTION, PERFECTION - and I would kill to write and produce your first CD." After "Solitaire," he declared, "I have lost my song forever to you. It will always be a Clay Aiken song." Randy, Paula, and Simon also loved both of his performances.

Results: Group Performance - 60s medley: Clay's solo was ""Going out of My Head." Some of the past finalists return to join the contestants for "What the World Needs Now," led by Burt Bacharach on piano. Ford Music Video - "Do You Believe in Magic?" Trenyce gets voted off.


Neil Sedaka - Build Me Up Buttercup

Neil Sedaka - Solitaire

Bee Gees - 5/6/03 & 5/7/03

Once again, two songs. The first song was "To Love Somebody." He wowed the judges, and Simon said it was probably the best of all the Pop Idol/American Idol performances. This was also the infamous night of "GREASE," when he wore a red leather jacket and shook his hips. Paula and Randy liked the fact that he took a chance and he could have fun with himself. Simon hated it, and thought it was terrible.

Results: Group Performance - Bee Gees medley, Clay's solo was "Too Much Heaven", Ford Music Video - "Ride Wit Me;" Josh Gracin was sent home.



Bee Gee's - To Love Somebody

Bee Gee's - Grease

Final 3 - The Night of the Vincident - 5/13/03 & 5/14/03 

The contestants start to sing three songs this week: one of their own choosing, one judge's choice, and one 'random' selection. For Clay, the 'random' song turns out to be " Vincent," the haunting song about suicidal artist Vincent Van Gogh. Clay sings it wonderfully, but he messes up the lyrics. After the show, we learn almost immediately that he had to add a verse with no rehearsal. To recover, he sings the "Mack the Knife" (Judge's Choice) and then blows the house down with "Unchained Melody," which was wonderful and brought Paula to her feet, even though he did a faster mix.

Results: They showed clips of the three finalists making visits to their hometowns. Group Performance Medley:ReunitedSolid as a RockUp Where We Belong ; Ford Music Video - "She's a Lady;" Kimberley Locke goes home.

Mack The Knife - Top 3


Unchained Melody - Top 3

Final 2 Special - 5/19/03 

This special focused on Clay and Ruben, with a mix of video features and in-studio interviews. Clay performed "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me." A fan chosen from the audience answered questions about Clay, much to his surprise. 

Ryan had Clay and Ruben do a coin toss to decide the order of performance the next night. Clay won the toss and chose to go second. The other finalists joined them  for a performance of "God Bless the USA " and "What the World Needs Now."

Final Two - Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me

The Final show- 5/20/03 & 5/21/03

After an overview of Clay's AI experience, Clay gives three phenomenal vocal performances in "This Is The Night","Here There and Everywhere", and "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
At the end of the show, Paul Anka performs "My Way" with the lyrics changed to pay tribute to Clay, Ruben, and the judges.
Group Performances - "One Voice" (Kelly Clarkson and the finalists); guest judges' medley (finalists);"Superstar""Somewhere over the Rainbow", /"On the Wings of Love" (Ruben, Kim Locke, Clay); "Ain't No Stopping Us Now" (Ruben & Clay) and Clay sang Hello.



Bridge Over Troubled Water - Finale


On The Wings Of Love - Finale