On May 8, 2008, Clay Aiken appeared on Nightline’s Playlist. This popular series asks different celebrities to list their five most favorite songs.
Before Clay listed hi songs, he talked about his singing career and Nightline presented a wonderful and positive look into the history of Clay Aiken.
Clay stated that he has been singing even before he can remember. At 5, he volunteered to sing at a Christian Puppet show and auditioned to be the mascot for a local high school’s dance.
The Playlist that Clay chose seemed to be very biographical in nature. Each song has a connection to a very important part of Clay’s life. The list of songs is very interesting. The following list is from the Nightline web-site.
‘A Lovely Day’ by Kirk Franklin
At the summer camp Aiken ran, they’d start each morning with “A Lovely Day.” It was “one of those songs that kind of gets you going in the morning” and “gets stuck in your head and stays with you all the time,” Aiken said.
“That one reminds me of working with kids and working at that summer camp or working as a teacher and the likes.”
‘Islands in the Stream’ by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers
Five-year-old Aiken favored “Islands in the Stream” after hearing it on the radio. It was one of the first songs he sang in public.
“I really don’t have much current stuff on my iPod,” Aiken said. “It’s a lot of stuff that I remember or songs that have been favorites of mine.”
‘The Great Adventure’ by Steven Curtis Chapman
Born in Raleigh, N.C., Aiken grew up listening to Christian music. One of the first songs he ever sang was in church was “The Great Adventure” by Steven Curtis Chapman.
“He’s just one of my favorite singers, favorite artists, favorite performers of all time,” Aiken said. “It was something that was easy to sing, it was fun … you know, I grew up in churches that were always singing hymns. And it was just fun and exciting, and the church allowed me to sing it and I was like, ‘Yeah, OK sure. If I can sing something fun, I’ll do it.'”
“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” is especially important to Aiken, who attributes this song to his “American Idol” resurgence.
“I had sung ‘Open Arms’ by Journey and didn’t really make it and got cut. So I came back and we were really trying hard to find a song that would make sure I had a great performance,'” Aiken said. “And we had a really tough time getting that song cleared at the time. You know, there’s permissions you have to get in order to sing a song on the show. ‘American Idol’ was so new at the time, people didn’t really want to have their songs butchered, and somebody who worked on the show actually made a phone call – was friends with Sir Elton John – and called him up and said, ‘Listen, let the boy sing the song.’ And so I did and that’s what got in me in the top 12, and so I’m kind of nostalgic for that one.”
Aiken’s biggest hit, “Invisible,” was also his first video, and one of Aiken’s most memorable experiences. “I did and I remember actually being in New York and we got the demo for that song and everybody around me was really hooked on it and loved it,” he said. “We were sitting in a hotel over near Central Park and put the CD in, and people who were with me got really excited about, you know, how great the demo was, and I was like, ‘Wow, this is a good song, I actually get to sing a good song.’ And it turned out being a hit for us. And so of course I’m always going to be nostalgic for ‘Invisible.’ I get asked to sing it all the time; I get asked to sing ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ all the time; I get asked to sing ‘Solitaire’ all the time but ‘Invisible’ is one that’s still fun,” he said.
Aiken describes “Carolina in My Mind” as “the quintessential North Carolina song.”
“James Taylor considers himself a North Carolina boy and went to school at UNC, and he tours through the area every time he tours,” Aiken said. “And one of the strangest things to me that I’ve never quite understood – people go to the concerts because they want to hear him sing ‘Carolina in my Mind.’ I mean, that’s just – they use it on the news, they use it in every single marketing piece, anything that’s about North Carolina at all you hear ‘Carolina in my Mind.'”
Whenever Aiken goes to Taylor’s concerts, he said the song ends up in the second half of the concert. “And then everybody goes, everybody leaves. I mean, if you want to beat the traffic actually you’re probably better off just to stay to the end because once he’s sung ‘Carolina In My Mind’ the roads clog up. Everybody wants to hear it live, and then you’ve got your fix for the year and then you go back next year and hear him sing it again.”
The following video is the entire interview. It is wonderful. Let’s hope YouTube lets it stay up.