While other winners and contenders have gone on to success during the course of American Idol’s 15-season run, inaugural winner Kelly Clarkson has always been the show’s biggest success story. The singer proved why during a medley of hits on the iconic singing competition’s final episode.
Clarkson was unable to perform live because she is pregnant, but turned in a pre-recorded medley that shows how much she’s done since winning the show in 2002. Clarkson ran through “Miss Independent,” “Breakaway,” “Walk Away,” “My Life Would Suck Without You,” “Already Gone,” “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” “Because Of You,” “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You),” “Heartbeat Song,” “Invincible,” and song of the ’00s contender “Since U Been Gone” before closing with an a capella rendition of “A Moment Like This.”
While the finale also included former contestants like Carrie Underwood, Fantasia and Jordin Sparks and William Hung — and the show has made genre-specific stars of Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson and Phillip Phillips — it’s clear that the spotlight was Clarkson’s. As the only contestant in the show’s history to see sustained cross-genre success, she really is the American Idol.