It’s hard not to wonder if American Idol would’ve become a cultural zeitgeist had Kelly Clarkson not won the first season. Would Justin Guarini’s cheeseball charm have translated to long-term success? Would the show had even made it to Season 4 to find Carrie Underwood if Clarkson had not had immediate validating success? Would anyone know the name Trent Harmon this morning? We think not.
While she couldn’t physically be at the American Idol finale due to the impending birth of her son literally any minute, Kelly Clarkson’s impact on the show was certainly felt. While there were a ton of performances during the finale, it’s safe to say that Clarkson reminded everyone that Idol was indeed “The House that Kelly Built.”
In a fitting sendoff, Clarkson’s last performance on the show that made her famous was an incredible mashup of some of her biggest hits, ranging from “Miss Independent” to “Don’t You Wanna Stay?” and from “Stronger” to “Since U Been Gone,” with a little bit of “Heartbeat Song,” “Because of You,” “My Life Would Suck Without You” and more mashed together in a 20-song(!!) medley that was nothing short of genius. The mama-to-be ended her medley with an a capella take on her Idol signature “A Moment Like This” and for a fleeting moment, it was 2002 all over again.
Ever humble, the Queen of American Idol took to Twitter to joke about her appearance and then thank her band and the show.
Watch Kelly Clarkson’s incredible Idol medley here: