Chart Rewind: In 2002, Kelly Clarkson Celebrated Her First ‘Moment’ Atop the Hot 100

“Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this. Kelly Clarkson only had to wait a few weeks to go from unknown to American Idol. The ultimate confirmation of her idol status is her placing at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.”

In the Billboard issue dated Oct. 5, 2002, Fred Bronson chronicled Clarkson’s – and Idol‘s – first Hot 100 coronation in that week’s Chart Beat column.


Along with the initial leader on the list for an Idol contestant, after the show had premiered on Fox that June 11, “Moment” made history for vaulting from No. 52 to No. 1, then the largest weekly jump to the top. The ballad broke the record, Bronson noted, “that stood for 38 ½ years. In April 1964, The Beatles leapt 27-1 with ‘Can’t Buy Me Love.’ “

Clarkson still claims the mark, but with a different song: “My Life Would Suck Without You” blasted 97-1 on the Feb. 7, 2009, Hot 100, concurrent with its No. 1 launch on the Digital Song Sales chart.

“Moment” similarly soared to the Hot 100’s summit fueled by its first full week on sale, selling 236,000, the largest weekly total of the 2000s to that point.

The song was released Sept. 17, 2002, after Clarkson was crowned Idol‘s first winner that Sept. 4.

“Moment” began a run of Idol singles topping the Hot 100 for five consecutive years. The second-season runner-up, Clay Aiken, roared in at No. 1 on the June 28, 2003, tally with “This Is the Night,” followed by subsequent winners Fantasia with “I Believe” (July 10, 2004); Carrie Underwood with “Inside Your Heaven” (July 2, 2005); and Bo Bice with “Do I Make You Proud” (July 1, 2006).

Clarkson has since upped her total to three Hot 100 No. 1s, most recently leading for three weeks beginning in February 2012 with “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” In March 2016, she added her 11th and most recent top 10, “Piece by Piece,” which debuted at its No. 8 high, sparked by her performance of the song on the Feb. 25 episode that year in Idol‘s 15th and final season on Fox. Since 2018, five seasons of the competition have aired on ABC.

Since September 2019, Idol‘s original champion has hosted her syndicated The Kelly Clarkson Show, for which she has won Daytime Emmy Awards for outstanding entertainment talk show host three years running since 2020.

Clarkson, who has also won two Grammy Awards, has matched her No. 1 Hot 100 haul with three leaders on the Billboard 200 albums chart, among eight top 10s: her debut set Thankful (2003), All I Ever Wanted (2009) and Piece by Piece (2015). She most recently reached the top 10 with Meaning of Life in 2017.

To date, Clarkson has sold 14.8 million albums in the U.S., while her songs have drawn 63.7 billion in radio airplay audience and 5.4 billion official streams (on-demand and programmed) domestically, according to Luminate.

Among those lofty sums, “Moment” has tallied 2.9 billion in radio reach and 84.4 million official streams in the U.S.

On Sept. 19, Clarkson’s legacy was further reinforced when she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, surrounded by original Idol judges Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson.

“I never thought that would happen. Then it happened,” Clarkson marveled to Billboard in 2017 of winning the inaugural Idol season and ascending to the top of the Hot 100 for the first time. “Then you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m that person in the story …’ It sounds cheesy, but that night [winning Idol] changed my life.”

Gary Trust