Kelly Clarkson is synonymous with American Idol. The 33-year-old was the talent show’s first winner more than a decade ago and went on to a wildly successful career, churning out hits like “Since U Been Gone” and cementing her space in the pop sphere.
Clarkson has AI to thank for everything, and she paved the way for other winners like Carrie Underwood to find platinum success as well. That’s why her return to the AI stage Thursday night was so beautiful. And emotional. Very emotional.
A pregnant and glowing Kel performed “Piece by Piece,” the title song from her latest No. 1 album, on the stage that made her a star. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house; judge Jennifer Lopez looked noticeably misty and rough-and-tumble Keith Urban flat-out bawled. It was tender.
But the most touching show of emotion came from Clarkson herself, who choked back tears toward the end of her song but eventually let them flow. “I’m super pregnant and hormonal,” Clarkson joked after the performance, which received a (well-deserved) standing ovation.
“I’m pregnant and it’s nostalgic and I can’t believe it’s the last season,” Clarkson continued. “I’m really sorry I just bawled. I’m actually quite proud that I made it that far.”
We are, too. Excuse us, we feel the tears coming back again.
Watch Clarkson discuss how the digital revolution impacted music in the clip below.