Clay Aiken Is 'So Used to Losing' that “Masked Singer ”Elimination with Ruben Studdard 'Didn't Bother Me' (Exclusive)

The 'American Idol' alums competed together as Beets on the undercover singing competition

<p>Walter McBride/Getty; Michael Becker / FOX</p> Clay Aiken (far left) and Ruben Studdard as Beets

Walter McBride/Getty; Michael Becker / FOX

Clay Aiken (far left) and Ruben Studdard as Beets
  • Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard were revealed as Beets on The Masked Singer

  • The judges never guessed the identities of the American Idol alums

  • Corey Feldman was unveiled as Seal on the same episode

You can’t stop the beat, but you can stop the Beets from winning The Masked Singer.

Beets got eliminated alongside Seal (Corey Feldman) on the May 1 episode of the singing competition and unmasked as American Idol season 2 winner Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken.

“We've both sung for presidents with Secret Service protection and never been around security as tight as that show was,” Aiken, 45, tells PEOPLE of their experience on The Masked Singer.

The Idol alums kept their identities secret from judges Ken JeongJenny McCarthyRita Ora and Robin Thicke, too. The panel never once tossed out Aiken or Studdard’s names as options, instead guessing Boyz II Men’s Wanyá Morris and Shawn Stockman, country duo Brooks & Dunn and Scrubs stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison throughout the season.

<p>Michael Becker / FOX</p> Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard as Beets on 'The Masked Singer' season 11

Michael Becker / FOX

Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard as Beets on 'The Masked Singer' season 11

Related: Ruben Studdard and Wife Kristin Share First Look at Baby Daughter Henri — See Exclusive Photos!

“I was honored by Boyz II Men,” Aiken, who is dad to 16-year-old son Parker, says. “I did not quite understand the Zach Braff and Donald Faison or the Brooks & Dunn. I think at one point they guessed Will Arnett and Sean Hayes. They came up with some stupid guesses. They were in dark.”

Studdard, 45, tells PEOPLE, “I wanted them to keep guessing until we stayed until the end.”

And they did. Even host Nick Cannon said after the singers’ unmasking, “You had us all fooled.”

Aiken and Studdard reveal how they cooled down inside their costumes, what their kids thought of their Masked Singer appearance and whether they’ll continue to hit the road together following their 20th anniversary tour last year.

What made you both want to do another singing competition, 21 years after Idol?

RUBEN STUDDARD: It was an opportunity for us to step outside of ourselves. We had been on the road for months as the Ruben and Clay Show, and I thought it really gave us an opportunity to let people just hear the voice. You really don't have to be yourself on stage to be this character.

CLAY AIKEN: As opposed to being distracted by our gorgeous looks.

STUDDARD: I mean, I will always say I look good.

AIKEN: I might've looked better in the Beet.

Did you two come on wanting to win, or just to have a good time?

STUDDARD: I wanted to win. I want to win everything. But I mean, I think the biggest win was just us getting the opportunity to be on the show and be a part of the juggernaut that is Masked Singer. That's a big win for everybody.

AIKEN: I was equally as excited to do it, but Ruben and I were on tour all year last year together and we had just a very, very, very, very short hiatus in between two legs of the tour dates and this happened in between them. Ruben really wanted to stay on and win. I am so used to losing that it didn't bother me in the slightest to lose. And I was tired because we had just done tour shows and after we were done, we went right back to our tour. We didn't get too much of a break. But it was a blast and it was an experience that I think both of us will probably never have again and certainly won't forget.

<p>Paras Griffin/Getty</p> Ruben Studdard (left) and Clay Aiken performing in Atlanta in January

Paras Griffin/Getty

Ruben Studdard (left) and Clay Aiken performing in Atlanta in January

How was it performing inside the Beets costumes?

AIKEN: It's a very compressed schedule of the show, each week episode, and Ruben and I are obviously used to that. But we were not used to not only having to learn a new song and be prepared, but also there was some degree of choreography — although I don't think you could tell it by looking at us. There was choreography that we were taught and because of those ridiculous Beets, we couldn't see anything at all. The eyeballs are at our stomach level. So I was more worried about not falling off the stage and making sure that I was facing in some semblance of the appropriate direction through the show.

STUDDARD: It was warm, for one. It was definitely not the most comfortable place to be in. The most fun I have doing these kinds of shows is sometimes not the performance, it's meeting the people that work on the show. That staff at The Masked Singer, they are extremely professional and kind, and they're always there to make sure you're comfortable in those costumes.

AIKEN: We had great dressers who would stick their arms inside of our costumes with electric fans because we couldn't sit or take them off.

Did you two butt heads at all when it came to picking the songs that you chose to perform on the show?

STUDDARD: No, we didn't butt heads at all musically. Not at all.

AIKEN: We butt heads about plenty of things. We were on tour together all year last year. Ruben got so much of me in 2023 that I might not see him again for another six years. But musically, we both know the other's strengths. We've done tours together. We did a show on Broadway together, and obviously we did Idol together. But what's fun about performing with Ruben is, neither of us are ever trying to show the other one up. Ruben tries to make sure that songs that we choose are ones that make me sound great and him sound great. So I don't really think we've ever argued or disagreed about songs or music to do, have we Ruben?

: No, because you pretty much leave that music to me.

AIKEN: I do most of the time. The music stuff I leave to Ruben, he leaves other stuff to me.

<p>M. Caulfield/WireImage</p> Clay Aiken (left) and Ruben Studdard

M. Caulfield/WireImage

Clay Aiken (left) and Ruben Studdard

Are your kids fans of the show? Probably not your youngest, Ruben, who was just born in March, but maybe 3-year-old Olivier.

STUDDARD: Both of my kids are too young for TV. My son is still watching Blippi.

AIKEN: That's ridiculous. Don't you wish you had done what he did? He is making a bank off of that. He is everywhere and all he has to do is run around acting like an idiot. That's a brilliant job to have. Mine's a little old. He's watched it and he's enjoyed it, but he was not aware that I had done the show. But the minute Ruben started singing on the first episode, he said, "Oh, that's Uncle Ruben," and he just assumed that it was Ruben. And then when I started singing, he looked at me like, "Wait, when did you do this?" So he was surprised, but he picked up on it real quick. He thought it was really cool.

Had either of you been getting messages since the show started from friends and family who thought you were on The Masked Singer?

STUDDARD: Absolutely.

AIKEN: I have gotten very good at not lying, but also not saying anything at all. I've gotten a lot of, "I've heard that, oh yeah. Someone told me I should check that out. I hadn't had time to watch that kind of crap."

Do you plan to keep touring together?

STUDDARD: I will definitely be back on the road doing shows and doing the things that I do, but you have to ask Mr. Aiken. Maybe he'll go back out.

AIKEN: I stopped performing for a long time, and the only times between 2012 and now that I've been on stage have been with Ruben. We did our Broadway show in '18, and then we toured together last year and the beginning of this year. I would love to do it again at some point. I think you'll see us. It might be 25th, 30th anniversary, something like that, or Christmas, because we'd both love to do the Christmas show again.

Related: The Masked Singer Season 11 Reveals: See All the Celebrities Who Have Been Unmasked

What are you still hoping to achieve in your careers?

STUDDARD: I definitely would love to go on tour with some legends like Gladys Knight or…

AIKEN: Are you saying I'm not a legend, Ruben?

STUDDARD: Well, come on. You're no Smokey Robinson.

AIKEN: I'm no Smokey Robinson or Gladys Knight. That's true.

STUDDARD: And the reason why I say that is because I love hearing the stories that they have. I had the opportunity to go on the road with Natalie Cole for a while, and the amount of things that I learned just by listening to her was invaluable. I would love to be able to go back out with another legend like that.

AIKEN: I would say Ruben needs to keep doing this for at least another 20 years because I stopped performing around the time my son was around Olivier’s age right now. And now at he's almost 16. I'm getting to the age where now I realize I took off a long time and now I have to do it again so that I can be cool to my own kid because I'm not cool to him at all. So Ruben, you got to keep doing it at least 'til both of the kids are impressed again because there's an age when they're young where they don't give a flying flip what you did. You got to stick it out until they think you're cool again because it'll happen.

STUDDARD: OK, brother, I will.

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The Masked Singer airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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