New York — "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken's album will arrive in record stores about a month before that of winner Ruben Studdard's "Soulful."
Aiken's album, not yet titled, will hit stores on Oct. 14. Studdard's album will arrive on Nov. 11.
Studdard told The Associated Press Thursday that Aiken's disc is already finished, while he's still working on his.
"He got his album done fairly quickly; with me, I had my own press junket, so studio time was very limited," said Studdard, who is on the "American Idol" national tour along with Aiken and other stars of the Fox television talent show.
"It just don't make no sense for Clay to have his album chillin' when he could just do his thing," he said.
Studdard said it's been difficult juggling the schedules of his producers with his own. But he said he wasn't worried about the delay.
"I just want to be able to do the best possible project I possibly can. I don't want to just come out with an 'American Idol' souvenir album, you know what I'm saying?"
Studdard narrowly beat out Aiken in May to win the "American Idol" contest. Since then, the 24-year-old Aiken has gotten plenty of attention. He got a Rolling Stone cover before Studdard, and his first single, "This Is the Night," sold more copies than Studdard's "Flying Without Wings." Both songs were released in June.
And ABC television announced Wednesday that Aiken will sing his signature song at the "Miss America" pageant Sept. 20 in Atlantic City, N.J.
Studdard downplayed the competition with Aiken, whom he called his friend.
"When you think about it, both of us have sold upward of 900,000 singles. Should I be upset that I sold 951,000 singles, and he sold 961,000 singles?" Studdard said. "I can't be anything but happy with that."
Studdard is working with hit-makers such as R. Kelly and Missy Elliot on his disc, which also will include guest appearances by rapper Fat Joe and gospel star Fred Hammond. It will be released on J Records, while Aiken's will be released on RCA Records. Both are part of the conglomerate BMG.
The 24-year-old Birmingham, Ala., native is the second winner of the "American Idol" competition. Kelly Clarkson won it last year, and her debut album, "Thankful," released in April, has sold more than 1 million copies.