Picks and Pans Review: Ruben Vs. Clay: Singles Showdown

UPDATED 07/14/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/14/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

In a reversal of the American Idol final results, Clay Aiken's debut single outsold Ruben Studdard's, 393,000 to 286,000 copies, in their first week out. Here's how we judge them:

•"Flying Without Wings"/"Superstar" Studdard's cover of Westlife's inspirational pop ballad "Flying without Wings" is too over-the-top for the oversize singer, whose velvety voice is better suited to smooth R&B material. He soars higher on a soul-kissed version of the Carpenters' "Superstar" that would do Luther proud.

•"Bridge over Troubled Water"/"This Is the Night" Although this Broadway-style rendition of "Bridge over Troubled Water" is surely not what Paul Simon imagined when he wrote the song, Aiken gives a show-stopping performance that blows away the maudlin original tune "This Is the Night" that he also sang during the Idol finals.

Winner: A near draw, but a powerhouse Clay takes the prize.

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