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'American Idol' finalists Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard grab top 2 spots on Billboard


By Wade Paulsen, 06/19/2003 

Yesterday, we wondered how the new singles from 'American Idol' finalists Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard would chart with a full week of sales data. Today we know.

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Billboard reports that Clay's single, "This Is The Night" b/w "Bridge Over Troubled Water" debuted at number 1 in the new Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart (which takes both sales and airplay into account), becoming the first single to debut in the top spot in five years. Ruben's disk, "Flying Without Wings" b/w "Superstar" debuted at number 2, marking the first time in the 45-year history of the Billboard Hot 100 charts that both of the Top 2 were debuts. The singles were also 1-2 on the Billboard/Nielsen SoundScan Hot 100 Single Sales chart.

Meanwhile, "God Bless the U.S.A.", featuring Clay, Ruben, and the rest of the Idol Season 2 finalists, dropped from first to third on the sales chart, giving Clay and Ruben a stranglehold on the top three sellers.

According to SoundScan, Clay's single sold around 393,000 copies, making it the largest first-week debut for a CD single since Elton John's funeral tribute to Princess Diana, "Candle in the Wind 1997." Ruben sold around 286,000 units. By contrast, according to the Associated Press, Kelly Clarkson's debut single last year, "A Moment Like This," sold about 236,000 copies in its first week and debuted at #1 in the sales chart but not in the Hot 100, although it subsequently spent two weeks at #1.

Most #1 CD singles sell no more than 20,000 copies in a week, which makes the Idol numbers astounding. Nevertheless, the Billboard chart director notes that the huge sales numbers have not translated into equally huge airplay -- the #1 song on the Billboard Top 40 Tracks chart, which is measured solely by airplay, is Kelly's "Miss Independent," from her Thankful CD.

Oh, and Justin Guarini's debut album cracked the Billboard Hot 200 Albums chart as well, debuting at number 20.with sales of about 54,000 units. Those figures have to be considered somewhat disappointing, since Kelly's album sold 297,000 copies the week it was released and debuted at #1. We'll see if Kelly's popularity is enough to carry Justin through the opening tomorrow of their new movie, From Justin to Kelly.

The J2K "flop watch" remains at one day and counting. We note that the soundtrack for the tween-oriented The Lizzie McGuire Movie remains in the Top 20, serving as a benchmark for both Justin's album and the box office of J2K.

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