Clay Aiken Sings Solitaire

April 29, 2003 was a momentous night on American Idol.  Most Clay Aiken fans will remember the night with excitement.  It was the night that brought Clay and “Solitaire” together for the first time.

The theme of the evening was Neil Sedaka Night. Neil was the guest judge for this show so he joined Randy, Paula and Simon at the judges dais.

This is the first night where the remaining contestants sang two songs–one from the 60’s and one composed by Neil Sedaka. So, since it was the “Top Five”, the audience anticipated 10 performances for the night.

The songs and the order for the night were:

1st song:

  1. Ruben Studdard – “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”
  2. Trenyce – “Proud Mary”
  3. Josh Gracin – “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye”
  4. Kimberley Locke – “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
  5. Clay Aiken – “Build Me Up Buttercup”

2nd song:

  1. Ruben Studdard- “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”
  2. Trenyce – “Love Will Keep Us Together”
  3. Josh Gracin – “Bad Blood”
  4. Kimberley Locke – “Where The Boys Are”
  5. Clay Aiken – “Solitaire”

Ruben started the evening with a good rendition of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” but his outfit was the talk of the night.  Wherever you read, people were commenting on the “Reynolds Wrap” outfit.  Simon was horrified and not afraid to say so.

The judges were impressed with the way Trenyce sang “Proud Mary.” But, leave it to Simon to remark that she looked like a “Drag Queen.”

Simon must have been a in a bad mood because all the other judges enjoyed the performances of Josh and Kim, but he could not find anything nice to say.  According to Simon was “just not good enough” and Kim was something that “can be heard in any church across America.”

Finally, there was Clay.  He came out swinging as he sang “Build Me Up Buttercup” and the judges (even Simon) were impressed.  After this song, Neil said “You sing like Andre Agassi plays tennis-perfection.  And I would kill to write and produce your first CD.”

With so many performances in one night, the second round of performances started immediately.  Each song in this round was written by Neil Sedaka.

Again, Ruben impressed the judges.  All four of them felt Ruben performed like a professional and there was no comment on his clothing.

According to the judges, Trenyce hit a “home run” with her performance of “Love Will Keep It Together”, but Josh still could not get any support from Simon.  Simon felt that he just wasn’t good enough.

“Where The Boys Are” was a great vehicle to show off Kim’s voice and the judges were excited about her performance.  Words like hot, versatile, flirty, sultry and brilliant were heard in their review.

After the break and before the final performance, Ryan entered the Red Room with the four Idols who had performed already. The audience found out that Trenyce does a shot of olive oil before each performance to keep her vocal cords moist.

Kim was elected to introduce the last performer of the night, Clay Aiken.  This performance was not like any other on the show.  The audience saw a star on a dark stage wearing dark clothes. There was just a small light that let us see his serious face while he sang his beautiful arrangement of “Solitaire.” He sang it like a man on a mission. He just stood there and sang his heart out. Eventually the lights came on and the audience took a breath.

All four judges seemed to be stunned and were very emotional about Clay’s performance.  Even Simon said it was “a fantastic performance.”  What a way to end the night.

The result show lasted an hour on April 30th.  The 5 remaining Idols sang a medley of songs from the 60s and some of them made it into the audience and back on the stage.

Burt Bacharach returned and brought some of the Idols with him so that the audience could hear, one more time, “What the World Needs Now” which has been recorded.

Two other things were highlighted in the show, a visit to Tamyra Gray and a video of the “Top 5” at the premiere of the new X-man movie.

Finally, it was time for the results.  This week, Ryan only announced the bottom 2.  It was a shock to everyone when it was announced that Ruben was joining Trenyce in the bottom two.  But, as we all know, it was Trenyce that was “going home”

We have included four videos.  They include the 2 group performances and both of Clay’s performances.

Click here to see videos:

60’s Medley

What The World Needs Now



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8 thoughts on “Clay Aiken Sings Solitaire

  1. This was a stand-out night for Clay Aiken. Both his performances were wonderful, but I remember Solitaire in particular. Neil Sedaka said Solitaire would forever be a Clay Aiken song. Since AI many have heard Clay sing Solitaire live and he owns the song every time. The unique thing about Clay’s voice is the tone and quality which is rich and effortless. There have a been a few others on AI who can sing very well pitch-wise and change up the songs, but none with the exceptional quality in his voice that makes Clay’s voice a standout.

  2. Clay Aiken singing Solitaire was a performance I’ll never forget. Dressed in black with the solitary lighting and his beautiful rendition of Neil Sedaka’s haunting song, was a perfect moment on that show. Every performance by Clay was memorable, but this one stands out among the best. And when he came back to sing the longer version on AI, he left little doubt who the true winner was in Season 2.

  3. I loved both of those performances, but Solitaire was just stunning.

    Clay Aiken hit a home run on both of those performances, proving that he can do it all.

    All of the contestants on Season 2 were wonderful. I wonder how they would do on AI now with the band, backup singers, special effects & lighting? OR, I wonder how the current crop of AI contestants would do with the bare minimum?

  4. Oh, what a magnificent night that was! I melted when Clay Aiken burst out with “Build Me Up Buttercup”….then “Solitaire”! Ooooooooooh! Unbelievably GREAT! Thanks CANN for bringing back such wonderful memories. You do Clay Nation and Chexxxy’s Place proud!

  5. This was a stellar night for Clay Aiken. I love both of these songs. Buttercup was fast and very upbeat, Solitaire was just hauntingly beautiful. Never agreed with the judges about Clay singing the same all the time or the facial expressions. I, too, wonder how our current crop would do with the bare essentials.

  6. I remember that night so well. Solitaire is one of those performances that just stands out and it is forever etched in your mind. I was so glad that Neil gave such accolades to Clay that night. After Clay wrote his book and described his biological father as having played solitaire so much, I thought how many sad memories that must bring up for Clay every time he sings it. It still is one of my top 5 songs I think Clay has ever done. Thanks so much for the videos-great seeing them again!

  7. Thanks for the memories. I did make myself a DVD of all of Clay’s AI performance (thanks to all the wonder clack gatherers way back then) and every so often I play it. I watched Rewind but it just wasn’t the same as seeing it the first time. I think that night just put the ribbon on the already perfect package.

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

  8. I love these videos, they are fantastic, but there is one missing,,Unchained Melody. from his songs on AI . It would be so much nicer with all of his songs from the competition on here. Also is there anywhere I can go to see videos of the whole season 2 with the other stuff like when someone get eleminated each week..The reason I am asking is because this is the most comprehencive site of Clay Aiken and the best, Just asking.

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