Clay Aiken – An Obvious Benchmark Event

It is March 1st.  Does that mean winter is almost over??  For many of you I would imagine you hope spring is around the corner.

I am on a mini-vacation in the Lake Tahoe area.  We drove up here on Thursday and will be returning home on Monday.  My 6 year old “grand-twins” are experiencing their first ski week-end.  Should be fun.

I am sharing this with you as a bit of a heads-up.  We do have Wi-fi here. However, it is not always reliable.  Hopefully, everything will be OK, but don’t worry if the schedule is a bit off.

There are times in a person’s career that become obvious benchmark events. Some of these events are built up to be career-changing, but some just happen. Most people believe that March 17, 2004 was a defining moment in the career of Clay Aiken.

Season 3 of American Idol was in full swing. The final group of 12 contestants had performed on the first elimination show one night before. Each singer had tried to impress America by singing a song for “Soul Night.”

But March 17th was Results Night and American Idol had invited Clay Aiken, the runner up of Season 2, as their special musical guest.

According to reports at the time, there were many fans who arrived very early in the morning for the 5pm taping. A reporter from KIIS FM came by the line at about 9am to do a man-on-the-street interview with the line-sitters. Someone had called Rick Dees for an on-air contest and they were intrigued that there were so many people lined up so early. They wanted to know what AI3 finalist the people were there to see. They were completely shocked to learn that most of the fans were there for Clay.

At about the half-way mark of the show, Ryan Seacrest announced Clay. He strode onto the stage in a commanding way. He was wearing a black turtleneck and a suit. Instead of standing in front of the judges table, Clay chose to perform at the side of the stage. Clay chose to sing Solitaire as it was being pushed as his new single.

The audience in the studio and watching at home were treated to a wonderful performance. Not only did Clay sing well, he was able to connect with the audience with his eye contact and emotional lyrics. And I doubt anyone will forget the surreal “glory note.”

It was reported that Debra Byrd was monitoring the show on a TV screen at the front of the audience. As Clay was singing, she smiled widely and seemed very proud. Fred Bronson and Julia DeMato were both a part of the audience that night.

All three of the regular judges were there. One fan reported: “During Clay’s song, all three judges seemed to not be paying any attention whatsoever. They were talking among themselves. There was not one minute of interaction between Clay and those judges the entire time Clay was on the stage – not before, during, or after the song.”

After his performance, Clay chatted a bit with Ryan Seacrest. Clay said he got a little nervous being in the studio again. He also said that the tour with Kelly was going well. Ryan made sure that the audience knew that Clay’s album had gone triple platinum.

The contestants had a chance to ask Clay some questions. The audience laughed when Matt said he was having nightmares about Simon and wanted to know how Clay dealt with that. His response was to focus on the goal and to not let anything get in the way. He also commented that fame is hard when Fantasia asked him if people treated him differently.

At the commercial break, Clay went over to where the contestants were sitting and shook hands and hugged every one of them. Someone from the audience threw up some panties and also a bear for him. It was reported that Clay calmly picked up the panties and casually threw them over to Simon.

“My impression of the whole experience was that Clay is the real superstar here – he is just so far beyond American Idol,” reported a fan that was a part of the live audience that night.

It was certainly a night to remember and the entire audience was on their feet and applauding loudly for Clay Aiken, the new pop star.

The following is the only video I can find of this performance.  I had made a YouTube of the performance,but it was blocked about 6 months ago.  I guess this must have happened to some others too.  However, with this video you get 3 songs instead of only one.  AND…more Clay songs are always good.

Did you see this performance on TV?

Clay Aiken News Network is an unofficial fansite. We are not affiliated in any way with Clay Aiken or his management. This website was made by fans for fans and makes no impression or impersonation of the official site, which can be found under the domain

12 thoughts on “Clay Aiken – An Obvious Benchmark Event

  1. Oh yes I saw all these performances on AI!! I can't understand why you can't find a video of his Solitaire performance. I wonder why? All were stellar performances!!!

  2. Yes, I did see this performance also – simply magnificent!!! As always taped it and still have them
    all. They are my treasures!

  3. Wow! Wowzers for Clay did a terrific job with that video. It had really great sound quality, but of course, Clay always sounds wonderful. When you wrote that Solitaire was blocked on You Tube, I went to check my downloads to see if I still had it and the others. Yes! on all three. Thanks for the interesting back story. Hope you are enjoying your well deserved vacation.

  4. Clay's Season 3 performance of Solitaire was stunningly beautiful. Thanks for bringing it back to us musicfan. I'm still furious about the judge's behavior that night. What hubris! Our darling guy has had to put up with so much crap….and he's still standing! More power to you Clay!

  5. What a wonderful video! loved it, Clay sure can sing, he is my most favorite singer! Thanks Musicfan xox.

  6. I didn’t see that performance but I’ve watched it a million times. The vocals were just fantastic and he looked incredibly handsome. Definitely Clay in his glory! Love him! 🙂

  7. i did see that performance in a hotell tv room omg when clay sang solatare i cryed clay sure can inded sing hes one of my all time fav idol singer im still anoyed at the judges behavyor that night

  8. I will be anxious to hear more about Clay's planned Late Night talk show, and hoping that it all comes to fruitiion. I love when he speaks off the cuff, because of his wit and wisdom. I can see his adding some comedy sketches, short and very funny, since he is a good actor, and if he is asked a provcative question, I know he will be thoughtful, and honest in his opinions.

    • Hey Shirley, what late night talk show you talking about? Arsenio is getting one and Clay is going to be his first guest on the show. Is that what you mean?

  9. Thank you for a wonderful article, Musicfan. I didn't know anything about Clay's appearance that night other than what I saw from viewing the videos. You are a wonderful wealth of information when it comes to all things Clay.

    You Tube routinely either blocks or demands of uploaders that several of Clay's Idol performance clips be taken down. They do so as part of a 'sweep' of clips owned and copyright protected by Fremantle, Inc. that have been uploaded to You Tube. It's happened to me several times now and I know it has happened to others as well.

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