A CD-single debuting in the U.S. with six-figure sales? It must be the return of American Idol 2 runner-up Clay Aiken.

Clay's new RCA CD single, 'The Way' (from his album Measure of a Man) b/w 'Solitaire' (a cover of a Neil Sedaka song, which Clay performed in an abridged version on American Idol 2), debuted at #1 on the Nielsen SoundScan U.S. Singles Sales chart for the week ended March 21, 2004. Interestingly, Clay's new CD-single is the first to sell over 100,000 copies in a week since ... Clay's last commercial CD-single, 'This Is The Night' b/w 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', which was the ONLY CD-single from 2003 to be certified platinum in the U.S.

Clay thus ends the one-week reign of his roommate and fellow Idol 2 finalist Kimberley Locke atop the U.S. Single Sales charts with her debut Curb Records single '8th World Wonder'. Since Kimberley's single, like most U.S. #1s, sold fewer than 10,000 copies in its debut week, there was little doubt that her reign would be short-lived ... but the strong debut of Clay's single raises the possibility that he may have the best-selling CD-single of the year for two straight years.

Although Idol 1 produced only one star, Kelly Clarkson, Kimberley's strong opening raises the possibility that all of the three finalists from Idol 2 (Kimberley, who finished third, Clay and winner Ruben Studdard) could become stars. We wonder what Simon Cowell would say about that.

Meanwhile, we'll see whether Clay's continuing success at retail will translate into more airplay for 'The Way' and 'Solitaire' ... something which Clay's last (promo-only) single never managed but in which Ruben Studdard's last track 'Sorry 2004' ranked #1. Perhaps Clay and Ruben should record a duet, to garner both sales AND airplay...