During its six previous seasons, TV juggernaut "American Idol" has launched countless music careers -- but the caveat is maintaining staying power.

During its six previous seasons, TV juggernaut "American Idol" has launched countless music careers -- but the caveat is maintaining staying power. Season-two runner-up Clay Aiken continues to trump the odds. His third RCA album, "On My Way Here," due this week, follows his 2003 double-platinum debut, "Measure of a Man"; 2004's platinum "Merry Christmas With Love"; and 2006 gold covers album "A Thousand Different Ways."

On the new album, his first of original material since "Measure," Aiken worked with Grammy Award-winning producer Kipper (Sting, Chris Botti). "When [executive producer] Jaymes Foster and I came across the song ;On My Way Here,' written by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder, I really connected to it lyrically," Aiken says. "It sums up how the experiences we go through make us who we are. As I'm knocking on the door to 30 -- and it's knocking hard -- this decade has been about figuring out who I am. That set the tone for the album; they're all about things I've learned or universal lessons."

"Once we had that road map and knew what we were looking for, the songs started falling in our laps," he continues. "In the past, I'd sing about dog food and sunshine, as long as it was catchy and had a great melody, so it's the first time I've paid close attention to lyrics. I'm not Alicia Keys or Norah Jones when it comes to artistic lyrics, but I like what these songs are saying -- and they're still pretty."

Aiken admits "knowing that we probably weren't going to get radio made the process even easier, so we just made an album that is me-songs written for me or whose meaning I connected with, and songs that I sing well."

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