Buddies Ruben Studdard, winner of Season 2 on "American Idol," and Clay Aiken, the runner-up have announced they're releasing new albums. Like many of the events in their careers, the two will see them released somewhat contemporaneously -- with two weeks separation in March.
Ruben Studdard finished in first place on "American Idol" in 2003, his win hotly contested on the Internet by fans of the runner-up, Clay Aiken. But the two guys, who had developed a close friendship, didn't let their placement in the final official voting interfere with their careers. In fact, Aiken would release his first album, Measure of a Man, two months ahead of Studdard's debut, Soulful, and go on to sell more copies (nearly a million more), one of the few times either events has occurred in "Idol" history.
Both guys released their sophomore sets in November 2004, with Aiken again preceding. The albums launched just nine days apart. Aiken's Merry Christmas With Love would become the biggest selling Christmas album of any "Idol" alumnus in the show's history. Studdard's I Need An Angel would be certified gold.
Third albums would come from both in 2006, just a month apart. Aiken's A Thousand Different Ways would go on to sell nearly 600,000 copies. Studdard's The Return would sell half as well.
The two united to tour together in 2010 for the "Timeless Tour," co-headlining.
Overall, Clay Aiken's sales (U. S.) have nearly doubled Ruben Studdard's. He's released five sets of songs while Studdard has released four. Both have seen each successive album sell less than the first. Both have changed recording labels since their first signing.
On March 13, Studdard will release Letters From Birmingham.
"I think it will be my most personal album," the big guy told Huffington Post in January. "Because the first album I was just getting songs from everybody because, of course, I was on tour with "American Idol" and I really didn't have the opportunity to be as involved as I wanted to be in the album. And with this album I was able to pour my heart out into the songs. And also I'm 33 years old. I'm not the same cat that I was when I first came out. So I feel a lot different about stuff. There are a lot of sexy songs on there; it's just a real R&B album from top to bottom."
Clay Aiken's Steadfast will hit stores on March 27.
According to the "Clay Aiken News Network," the Season 2 runner-up's latest will combine some songs from his 2010 release Tried and True with some new material. It will be released in the middle of Aiken's latest television gig, starring with Arsenio Hall and Donald Trump on NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice," which begins the second week of February.
Both Studdard and Aiken have new singles in rotation as well. Studdard released "June 28 (I'm Single)" on Jan. 26. Aiken dropped "Bring Back My Love" on December 21.
(photo credit: Jyle Dupuis, Creative Commons)