Nothing felt like Christmas to Clay Aiken.
The American Idol Season Two first runner-up said he decorated his home, put up multiple trees but still came up empty in the Christmas Spirit department.
It wasn’t until Aiken began prepping for his “Joyful Noise” Christmas concert tour that the North Carolina-native started feeling in the holiday mood.
“The tour really starts the holidays off great for me and for the fans,” Aiken told The Sentinel. “I’ve had people tell me that they’re not in the Christmas Spirit until they’ve come to the show.”
The tour comes to the H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University Dec. 8.
Since finishing a close second to Ruben Studdard on American Idol in 2003, Aiken has become one of the long-running music competition show’s most successful alumni.
He doesn’t command the attention of a Jennifer Hudson nor does he have the record sales of a Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson, but Aiken has proven a winner in the music industry.
He has sold over 6 million records and has won an American Music Award.
In 2004, Aiken released, “Merry Christmas With Love,” which became the fasting selling Christmas album ever.
“This is my first time back (doing the “Joyful Noise” tour) since 2007,” he said.
“It became a tradition and people really wanted me to do this and some who work for me have told me that nothing feels like Christmas unless we’re doing the tour.”
Aiken said he’s changed some things for this tour and he is going back to the basics.
“It’s going to be more simple. There won’t be any dancers or anything like that,” Aiken said.
“I’ll have an orchestra and we’ll do all of the Christmas standards and, of course, songs from ‘Merry Christmas With Love,’” he said.
The tour is a big undertaking, with little room for error, Aiken said.
However, Aiken and his team of accomplished musicians are up to the task, he said.
While it’s been a long time since he appeared on ‘Idol,’ Aiken said some of his fondest memories include meeting Studdard.
“It’s been 10 years. December will be 10 years since I met Ruben and we still talk and trade ideas,” Aiken said.
However, Aiken said he hasn’t followed the show since the fourth season, when Carrie Underwood won.
He said he has heard about the feud on this year’s show between judges Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey.
Minaj a rap star and Carey, one of her era’s premiere vocalist, were filmed on set in a nasty feud in which Minaj allegedly threatened to kill Carey.
“Television is television and you have to create good television,” Aiken said of the highly-publicized feud.
“Some of it is a little posturing and publicity,” he said.
Still, Aiken wasn’t sure if the fight was staged because he said executive producer Nigel Lythgoe isn’t the type to resort to cheap publicity tricks.
“I know Nigel who runs the show and he knows how to make good television and I’d imagine that he’d want people to get along,” Aiken said.
As to why he has little use anymore for ‘Idol’ and other talent shows, Aiken said things have changed dramatically since his time on the show.
“Look, I love ‘Idol’ and what it did for me. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing without ‘Idol,’” he said.
“But, the show and shows like the X Factor and the other competitions are not about the singers anymore. It used to be. Nowadays, these shows are always about the judges or the host. Who is the star of X Factor? Simon Cowell, Britney Spears. ‘Idol’ also has had Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez.
“When I was on the show, nobody knew who Randy Jackson was, Simon was just making a name for himself and wasn’t a star yet while Paula Abdul hadn’t been a star for a long time before that.
“On top of that, you had people like myself and Ruben and Kimberly Locke who came right out of the country and didn’t know how to look or act like a pop star at all. Today, they are buying these pop stars on spec.”
Aiken said his tour reminds him of the good times as well as a time he hopes to come in the future when people will show neighborly love not just on Christmas, but throughout the year.
“We are all so friendly during the holidays and then January comes along and all of the friendliness is over,” Aiken said.
“The songs we perform tells you to be friendly all year long, but come January, we’re back in the grind of our year.”
Tickets for the 8 p.m. show at the Luhrs Center are $39, $45, $52, and $57.
To purchase tickets visit the Luhrs Center box office or www.luhrscenter.com.