Clay clobbers Ruben on the singles chart. Clay's No. 1 debut is the second-fastest-selling single ever; Ruben's bows at No. 2

By Brian Hiatt
Updated June 18, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Ruben Studdard may have narrowly triumphed on ”American Idol,” but his rival, Clay Aiken, has scored a more decisive victory in American record stores. Clay’s single, ”This is the Night/Bridge Over Troubled Water” debuts at No. 1 this week on Billboard’s singles sales chart with nearly 393,000 copies sold — easily trouncing the week’s second-best selling single, Ruben’s ”Flying Without Wings/Superstar,” which sold about 286,000 copies. Aiken’s release is the second fastest-selling single of the SoundScan era (Elton John’s Lady Di-themed remake of ”Candle In the Wind” holds the record), according to his label, RCA.

The vast disparity in sales between runner-up and Idol may leave some wondering just how the so-called Velvet Teddy Bear managed to win in the first place. But the good news for Ruben is that both he and Clay surpassed the impressive 236,000 first-week sales of Kelly Clarkson’s ”A Moment Like This” single, and soared far above the typically minuscule sales figures on the singles chart. Both Ruben and Clay are set to release albums later this year — but fortunately for Mr. 205, not in the same week.