Monday Night (5/7) my wife and I attended the sold-out Ruben Studdard concert at the Avalon Theatre in Easton. I’m not sure why (maybe because of American Idol’s decline in ratings over the years), but I was pleasantly surprised at how well the community supported the show. It was immediately clear that my wife and I were not the only ones that remember Ruben fondly. Upon doing some research, here’s why: Ruben’s Reign was the peak of American Idol. The Season 2 finale which Ruben was declared the winner was viewed by 38.1 million people, which is to this day still the most watched single episode in the history of the show.
American Idol’s Season 2 was in 2003, about one year after I moved to Easton and started here at WCEI, and also the same year I met my wife. I had not watched Season One of “Idol,” but my wife had watched every episode and was a big fan of Kelly Clarkson. So as we were dating, she got me “hooked” on Idol, and it was obvious to us right from the start, that Ruben was going to be the winner. Sure, Clay Aiken was a fine singer (we like him too) but we thought Ruben was clearly the best on the show. It was one of the last times a sure thing was a sure thing. I remember being just as certain a few years later that Adam Lambert was the Idol winner (I’m still bitter and shocked about that result), and would’ve bet my life savings (if I had any) that he was going to win. Ruben though was clearly the best, making everything look effortless (as he still does, singing the songs of the late Luther Vandross on this tour and on his current album). I also feel like Ruben is woven into our lives, as he was with my wife and I as we were “courting,” and we almost feel like we know the guy. He always came across as kind of childish and innocent on the show…and still had a little bit of that personality on display at the Avalon Monday Night. He even told a story about a last second change during one of the live performance nights where the crew (“someone British” as Ruben says) told him that they had not been able to secure the rights to the song he’d practiced to. “Here we go-they’re trying to get rid of the Fat Boy,” he said. That night Ruben ended up picking a substitute song, which he ended up singing after telling the story (to the gleeful surprise of my wife), “Superstar” by Karen Carpenter (and apparently covered by Luther Vandross).
I’d like to thank the Avalon Theatre crew for bringing him to town. For us, and obviously a select portion of the population that was glued to the TV in 2003, it was nice to see one of our “Idols” up close. Bravo!