'American Idol' Season 2: Ruben Studdard vs. Clay Aiken

clay-ruben-gi.jpgThe Season 10 premiere of "American Idol" is less than a week away and to make the days go by a bit faster, Zap2it decided to take a stroll down memory lane and re-evaluate the previous nine seasons.

Each day leading up to the premiere on Wednesday, Jan. 19, we will post a retrospective on each season. We're breaking it down into four categories: Best Performance, Worst Performance, Most Underrated Idol and most Overrated Idol. At the end, we will decide how the season stacks up against the rest, rating it as great, good, or not-so-good.

Yesterday, it was a look back at Season 1, the good ( Kelly Clarkson!), the bad ( Nikki McKibbin) and the ugly ( Ryan Starr's wardrobe). Now it's Season 2's turn, which had arguably the most debated finale ever, as only 130,000 votes separated Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken. We all know Ruben took home the title, but did he really deserve to him? 


Season 2 contestants in order of elimination:

Vanessa Olivarez
Charles Grigsby
Julia DeMato
Corey Clark
Rickey Smith
Kimberly Caldwell
Carmen Rasmusen
Trenyce
Joshua Gracin
Kimberley Locke
Clay Aiken

Ruben Studdard (winner)

Best Performance: "Solitaire," Clay Aiken

While there's no questioning Studdard's talent, we still think Aiken should have won the title. It was his performance of Neil Sedaka's "Solitaire" that sealed the deal for us. Sedaka himself told Aiken after his preformance, "Bravo, Clay. I have lost my song forever to you. It will always be a Clay Aiken song." His heartfelt and vulnerable performance was flawless -- Aiken hit every note and gave us chills. Hell, we still get chills watching it. 





Worst Performance: "Call Me," Carmen Rasmusen

Rasmusen butchered a lot (and we mean a lot) of songs during her seven-week run on "Idol,"  but the worst had to be "Call Me." From the first note, it was extremely painful to listen to and watch. It was like watching a sorority take the karaoke stage after knocking back one too many shots. We totally agreed with Simon Cowell when he called the performance "dreadful" and "awful." Sometimes, the truth feels so good. 

 



Most Underrated Idol: Trenyce

Poor, poor Trenyce. Though she placed a respectable fifth, we still think she would have made it farther if her mugshot didn't leak. Her performance of "Proud Mary" was one of the season's high points and she never truly got the praise she deserved.


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Most Overrated Idol: Corey Clark

Clark is one of those people we wish never auditioned because he was just so desperate for attention that it took away from what the show is supposed to be about. Clark was disqualified for not disclosing his arrest record when joining the competition, which he maintains he spoke with the producers and judge Paula Abdul about his arrest.

End of story? Not quite. Two years later, Clark, desperate for attention again, claimed that he and Abdul had a sexual relationship and that she coached him on how to win the competition.



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How the season stacks up: Good

While not one of our favorites, the final two provided one of the show's best finales ever.

Photo/Video credit: Getty Images/YouTube
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