The Masked Singer’s Clay Aiken And Ruben Studdard Clear The Air About Alleged Feud When They Were On American Idol

 Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard on The Masked Singer on Fox.
Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard on The Masked Singer on Fox.

The Masked Singer threw Season 11 viewers for a loop with The Beets, as I'd imagine most viewers failed to successfully guess the talented duo. Upon elimination, famed American Idol alums Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken were revealed to be in costume, which likely shocked anyone who put stock in rumors that the respective Season 2 Idol winner and runner-up hated each other. Now, over 20 years after that life-changing finale, they're talking about the reality behind their supposed feud.

Considering they teamed up for The Masked Singer after having previously appeared on American Idol in recent years, I figured Studdard and Aiken had by now put any lingering tensions behind them. But when they sat with CinemaBlend to talk reality TV, I had to ask them about tabloid reports about personal feuding that I could still recall seeing when I was younger. Clay Aiken listened to my story and then set the record straight:

I was going to ask who put that bullshit on there because that never happened, but it was tabloids, so who knows? We never were competitive with each other on the show at all. We find it funny when people remind us of that time because we lived it. We know that people were always trying to pit us against each other. I mean, Ruben specifically suggested that my album come out before simply because he was not done. There was never a competition between us. And so we always find it funny that people think that.

The allegations that tension existed and thrived between the two singers was completely false, according to Clay Aiken, who recently went on tour with Ruben Studdard, which would be one of the worst things to do with a legitimate rival. They've always been supportive of each other over the years when it comes to music and seemed as thick as thieves during our interview as they did on The Masked Singer stage. I guess that makes sense if their friendship actually did start forming 20 years ago without any authentically foul feelings building up.

It's a bond that's proven strong enough for the occasional ribbing, as Studdard cracked a joke leaning into the idea that he and Aiken were enemies. The singer joked about "bullying" Aiken when they were on the show together so that he could have an edge in the competition:

I mean I bullied him every day on the show. [Smiles]. So he was, you know, pretty much like, terrified to, sing at his best when he came on stage, you know, put myself over the top.

Great banter from two American Idol legends, who seem so far removed from today's current product. Not through any fault of their own, as a lot has changed about the series in over two decades. Minus the fact that both the Fox and ABC iterations are part of Ryan Seacrest's biggest hosting gigs, the world has changed drastically. Imagine the online tweets about their finale had X existed back then!

Looking back at The Beets' prior performances, which can be found by streaming The Masked Singer with a Hulu subscription, it's a shock that they didn't make it out of the Group B Finals. Gumball was just too much to overcome, it seems, though their exit, paired with fan comments, did make the other eliminated contestant, and actor Corey Feldman, feel much better about leaving.

Their elimination also solidified my opinion that Gumball is the new frontrunner to win The Masked Singer Season 11, which is a relief. This latest season had a major problem starting out in that none of the artists stood out, but it feels like he's started to separate from the pack. The season, hopefully, has the ability to finish just as strong as when it started with Rita Ora and will hopefully get me jazzed about the idea of Season 12.

The Masked Singer airs on Fox on Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. I'm dying to see who the remaining contestants involved in this season are, so I can't wait to see who else is unveiled in the coming weeks.