The final top 10 of "American Idol" has been announced (Feb. 25) and there's no other way to welcome them into the competition than bringing on the inaugural winner Kelly Clarkson to sit on the judges panel. Clarkson, very pregnant with her second child, has been long asked to offer her critiques but scheduling conflicts always set the opportunity back. The three-time Grammy Award winner joined Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. to advise contestants and passed along her expertise while sharing moments of when she was on the very first season.
Always bubbly and down to earth, Kelly Clarkson went into "mom mode" and gave solid advice to the top 10 who are largely very young. She not only gave some performance advice, she also provided words of encouragement to the youngest batch of contestants who are finding themselves musically and also in life.
Clarkson was able to be in front of one of those "Idol" moments when an artist sets the bar not only for the show but themselves. La'Porsha Renae performed Rihanna's "Diamonds" with conviction, stirring the entire house bringing it to their feet. Overwhelmed and in tears, Renae commanded her spot in the top 10 with poise and humility. Clarkson overcome with joy, she began the judging saying, "It's not my turn to talk but I don't care." She told Renae with that performance she will win. She went on to praise how well done the performance was while Harry Connick Jr. simply said, "That's your critique," speaking of the venue standing on their feet cheering on the budding artist.
It was an honor to have the first winner of the show sit before the final season's talents, many of which looked up to her and shared their own memories of watching Clarkson win and build a career. When the KC finally took the stage at the end of the show, she showed just why America fell in love with her since day one.
Clarkson's latest single "Piece by Piece," an emotional "silverlining" to "Because of You," grabbed everyone's attention and brought them to tears. She performed the single just as she did on the Piece by Piece Tour, where she announced her pregnancy, stripped down to piano and heart wrenching. Choking up, as she has nearly every other time performing the song written after a conversation with her sister, Clarkson had Lopez drawn in while Keith Urban was reduced to tears. Not only did her emotional performance capture her peers as it has time and time again, contestants such as Renae were overcome with Clarkson's vulnerability.
"Piece by Piece" is the last time Clarkson will ever perform on the "American Idol" stage. At the beginning of the show, she let everyone know it was the last time she would be able to fly, set to give birth to her baby boy in seven weeks. That conflicted with the series finale happening at almost the same time. On Feb. 24, she pre-taped a medley that will air instead. It's been a journey for both the KC and her fans who have so loyally stood by her side. Clarkson's humble demeanor went from "coolbeans" and "score!" to "f**k it, I'm too pregnant for this sh*t!", having a difficult time getting through her medley which included her winning No. 1 hit "A Moment Like This."
The three final judges of the show exclaimed what a delight it was to have Clarkson on the show, wishing she could have done it more. During her season, she never once was faced with being eliminated. Week after week she worked harder and the rest is history. Clarkson has stood her ground, developed a career for herself for the rest of her life and inspired millions to never give up.
Kelly Clarkson will forever be the "American Idol." Her journey came full circle, from being poor and without a stable roof over her head, to working hard and building a family of her own. She left that night on Sept. 4, 2002 in tears, and exited the "Idol" stage one last time just the same.