Kelly Clarkson is still making ‘American Idol’ history

Guest judge and inaugural winner Kelly Clarkson performs on "American Idol" on Feb. 25, 2016.

Guest judge and inaugural winner Kelly Clarkson performs on “American Idol” on Feb. 25, 2016.

(Ray Mickshaw / Fox)

Fourteen years after being crowned the first “American Idol,” Kelly Clarkson is still making history on the show.

After returning to the “Idol” stage with an emotional performance of her latest single, “Piece by Piece,” the singing competition’s inaugural winner became its first contestant to earn 100 No. 1’s across all of the charts compiled by Billboard.

Clarkson’s feat is apropos considering the show is in the midst of its final run. Her latest chart placement has given “Idol” a staggering 458 Billboard No. 1’s. Country star Carrie Underwood is behind Clarkson with 83 chart-toppers.

The singer’s rendition of “Piece by Piece” on “Idol” late last month reduced the show’s judges to tears with its juxtaposition of her father’s abandonment -- which she poignantly sang about on “Because of You” (this song is a sequel of sorts) -- with the promise she and her husband made to never leave their daughter.


After the performance, “Piece by Piece” shot to No. 1 on the digital songs and pop digital songs charts.

Pregnant with her second child, Clarkson might not be able to participate in the “Idol” finale in April, so she kicked off the series’ live shows Feb. 25 by appearing as a guest judge and performer. She joked that her hormones might lead to an overly emotional performance, and the song’s heartbreaking lyrics choked her up more than once.

Following the “Idol” performance Clarkson, released the softer, piano-driven version of the track that she performed on the show. The song -- which is the title track of her 2015 album -- opens “Piece by Piece Remixed,” the singer’s first remix album.

Since winning “Idol” in 2002, the Burleson, Texas, native has gone on to sell more than 21 million albums worldwide and has had 11 singles in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.


Her “Piece by Piece” album was up for two Grammys this year, including pop vocal album (she lost to Taylor Swift’s monster smash “1989,” but has won the honor for “Stronger” and her breakout sophomore album, “Breakaway”).

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