Kelly Clarkson makes triumphant return to 'American Idol'

Pop superstar Kelly Clarkson returned to the place where her career began, American Idol, on Wednesday, April 1. The FOX show's current contestants sang a number of Clarkson's hits during the episode while she performed something old and something new.

Clarkson rose to prominence in 2002 when she became the very first winner of American Idol. Though many of the winners have since waned in popularity, Kelly continues to dominate the music charts and touring scene. Her most recent release, Piece by Piece, topped Billboard's albums charts last month. Only Carrie Underwood rivals Clarkson in terms of Idol alumna success.

To celebrate the pop star's return, Wednesday night's episode of Idol was dubbed "An Evening with Kelly Clarkson." Each of the nine current contestants sang Clarkson's hits from 2003's "Miss Independent" to 2012's "Catch My Breath." She mentored every one of them through their performances.

Kelly also took to the stage herself to perform her most recent hit "Heartbeat Song." As usual, she sounded even better live than on the electro-pop recording. The standout moment happened when Clarkson sang Etta James' "At Last," the song she auditioned with on Idol back in 2002. She reminded everyone at home why Simon Cowell, Paula Adbul and Randy Jackson put her through. Despite losing her hearing piece, Kelly sang a powerfully soulful rendition of the classic that earned a standing ovation.

It was certainly a triumphant homecoming for Clarkson, who later posted a picture with current Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. on Instagram. "Good to be home!" she wrote as a photo caption. Speaking of home, 16-year-old contestant Daniel Seavey was sent packing that night after he received the lowest amount of votes.

Watch Kelly Clarkson's performances here