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Clay Aiken: 'American Idol' is Now All About the Judges

"I don't even know if they remember there are contestants anymore," says the season two runner-up.

Clay Aiken PR 2012 P
Curtis Brown

After a five-year break, Clay Aiken says he was long overdue to bring a Christmas show back on the road.

"It doesn't feel like Christmas for me if I'm not doing this," Aiken, who staged holiday tours from 2004-07, tells Billboard. "It was what made my year for me. It's what made Christmas feel like Christmas. This is what really puts me in the mood for the season." Aiken, who's playing with a full orchestra at each of his Joyful Noise 2012 tour stops, was waylayed first by his Broadway stint in Spamalot and then last year's runner-up appearance on Celebrity Apprentice. But, he says, "The people who worked for me in the past on the Christmas tours kept saying, 'When are we gonna get back out for Christmas? When?!' Fans would ask when I was going to do another Christmas tour. So I just said, 'Y'know what? We need to do it again."

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In fact, Aiken has gotten so into the spirit that he says a sequel to 2004's Merry Christmas With Love album and the A Clay Aiken Christmas DVD may well be his next recording endeavor. "I think that's the thing we've talked about most, doing another Christmas project," Aiken says. "I don't know that it will happen next year, but it's something I'd like to do. I think there's still some things out there I haven't done, and I like the fact that around this time of year people bust out their Clay Aiken Christmas album and it's part of their holiday."

After an eventful 2012 -- which in addition to Celebrity Apprentice saw the release of his sixth album, Steadfast, and a guest appearance on Dee Snider's Dee Does Broadway -- Aiken says he's eyeballing "a few things that are a little more low-key" for 2013 and is holding off most decisions until the Joyful Noise tour wraps Dec. 21 in Anaheim. "We've got some producers on a TV show concept idea they want me to work on, but I don't have time to do it right now," Aiken notes. His primary goal, Aiken explains, is to "sit still for a little bit and sleep in the same bed for awhile," so he's concentrating on theater as well as TV that will allow him to remain relatively stationary. "I would love to do theater again," he says, "but I think it has to be a role that would work, and I want to sing. I didn't get to sing in Spamalot; I want to do a show where I sing."

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Next year will also mark the 10th anniversary of his runner-up turn on American Idol's second season, but Aiken isn't expecting to commemorate the occasion.

"I don't know that I would commemorate it on the show," he says. "I don't know that they did it with Justin Guarini and all those folks. But Idol back in those days was about the contestants. Kelly [Clarkson] and Justin and Tamyra [Gray] and Nikki McKibbin, they were all the stars of the show. And when I was on, Ruben [Studdard] and myself and Kimberley Locke were the stars of the show. Now Idol is about the judges. I don't even know if they remember there are contestants anymore."

Twitter: @billboard

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