Television moments like this are rare. The Beatles and Elvis on Ed Sullivan. American Bandstand. The first MTV broadcast (Video Killed The Radio Star).
And the first time an American Idol was crowned.
The last happened in 2002 when Kelly Clarkson, hailing from Burleson, Texas and all of 20 years old at the time, took on Aretha Franklin covers during the first season of what became one of the world’s top rated television programs. Clarkson sang 6 Aretha songs during her run to the final against Justin Guarini.
After demolishing the frizzy-haired Justin, the two were drafted to star in a hideous Disney movie, but critics savaged the pair, the plot and the film. They were only slightly kinder when her first single, A Moment Like This, debuted low on the Billboard charts and went to #1 in its second week.
Rumors of a fallout with Idol’s management company surfaced. Despite the “ingrate” label some associated with the show pinned on her, Clarkson returned to the studio two years later. Once again she was recording on RCA and once again legendary mogul Clive Davis held an executive producer credit.
Breakaway, released in 2004, was the first American Idol smash that changed popular music. Clarkson wrote or co-wrote six of the songs and won two Grammys on its way to selling more than five million copies. Four hits spun off of Breakaway, one of the decade’s top selling albums.
After patching up supposed slights with the American Idol family, Clarkson appeared on the show’s sixth season charity event. With an April release of Never Again from her third album My December, Clarkson began circling back to her Texas roots. A NASCAR tie-in and duet with Reba McEntire are just two examples of the country girl going home. Her public comments about record exec Clive Davis brought back the ingrate label and December flopped commercially and critically.
Patching things up with Davis, the industry and back on track, Clarkson hit big in 2009 with two tracks from All I Ever Wanted, I Do Not Hook Up and My Life Would Suck Without You.
As the first, and undoubtedly the first breakthrough artist from American Idol, Clarkson will always hold a special spot in pop music history no matter what genres she takes on.
Kelly Clarkson Hot Sellers
Kelly Clarkson Reviews on Pop Rock Nation
All I Ever Wanted – Kelly trades in long-term self respect for a quick fix.
My December – Kelly Clarkson’s strong bid to be an artist.
Thankful – Debut album from the first American Idol isn’t fantastic or awful