Kelly Clarkson is, unquestionably, the greatest American Idol winner in the show’s 15-season history, with the best album (Breakaway), the best song (“Since U Been Gone”), and the worst movie (From Justin to Kelly). Her Game of Thrones-inspired holiday cards are pretty great, too. Clarkson was initially hesitant to return to Idol; she wanted to carve out her own career and prove that she was more than just a reality star, a move that led to Simon Cowell criticizing her for “ignoring Idol and the audience who put her there.” But she eventually became an Idol mentor, and last night, made possibly her final appearance on the show that helped turn her into a global pop star.
Needless to say, things got a little emotional. Clarkson broke down in tears while singing “Piece by Piece,” the title track from her most recent album. “I’m [eight months] pregnant and it’s nostalgic and I can’t believe it’s the last season,” she explained. “Yeah, really sorry I just bawled.” She wasn’t the only one: judges Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban choked up, too.
It was a fittingly sentimental performance from Idol‘s brightest star.