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'Idol' finalists Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard keep 1-2 slots on Billboard chart


By Wade Paulsen, 06/26/2003 

Another week, another 1-2 finish. According to Billboard magazine, the two finalists from this spring's American Idol on Fox, Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard, continue to hold the top 2 slots on both the Billboard U.S. Hot 100 Singles and Billboard/Nielsen SoundScan Hot 100 Single Sales charts. Clay's "This Is The Night" b/w "Bridge Over Troubled Water" on RCA Records holds on to the top spot and also holds #27 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Ruben's "Flying Without Wings" b/w "Superstar" on J Records (RCA's sister label) remains second and is #30 on the Adult Contemporary chart, while the song "Superstar" holds down #1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Sales chart and #15 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.

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The 1-2 performance repeats Clay and Ruben's success from last week, the week of release for both CD singles. Clay's continued dominance in the sales figures, though, once again calls into question the final voting results, which showed Ruben winning amidst nationwide phone problems -- but also reemphasizes that winning or losing the final vote mattered little to Clay's long-term chances of musical success.

Clay also continues in first place on the Amazon.com sales charts, which do not differentiate between CD singles and full-length CDs. Ruben holds on to #15 on this chart, which is still good enough for #2 among CD singles.

Interestingly, #2 on Amazon's chart is the new CD by Ruben's labelmate Annie Lennox, entitled Bare. Ms. Lennox is not only a brilliant vocalist in her own right (witnessed by her stint as lead singer of the Eurythmics prior to her solo career) ... but she's also managed by the same person as Ruben and Clay, American Idol creator Simon Fuller. With Clay, Ruben, Annie Lennox, and Kelly Clarkson (whose CD Thankful still is #30 in Amazon's sales charts), Simon Fuller is approaching the level of star-artist power last held by Beatles' manager Brian Epstein in the mid-1960s.

However, Brian Epstein was the guiding light behind the Beatles' classic movies A Hard Days' Night and Help! By contrast, Simon Fuller has been the "brains" behind Spice World and From Justin to Kelly, which were savaged by critics (see, for example, this review in the Akron Beacon-Journal ... or this one in Salon) and opened dismally. We think that perhaps it's time for Simon Fuller to start thinking longer term (i.e., career) for his clients, and not focus as much on the short-term (i.e., "cash in" while you can).

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