Kelly Clarkson made her emotional return to the American Idol stage on Thursday and reduced the judges to tears with her heartbreaking performance of “Piece by Piece.”
The season one Idol champ opened up about the song -- which she wrote about being abandoned by her father as a child -- earlier in the show.
“I actually wrote it pregnant with my little girl and now I’m pregnant with my little boy,” she told host Ryan Seacrest. “So if I don’t make it through and I start crying, just laugh. It’ll make me feel better.”
True to her word, the singer became overwhelmed by emotion at the end of the song, having to restart a few lines as she fought back tears. The judges were even more emotional, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. both welled up, and Keith Urban openly wept at the emotional tune.
The song also brought tears to the eyes of Idol frontrunner, La’Porsha Renae, who Clarkson prematurely declared the winner of the singing competition’s final season after her show-stopping performance of Rihanna’s “Diamonds.”
“If I were you -- which, I wish I were -- every time I opened my mouth to sing, I’d just be like, ‘You’re welcome.’ It’s such a talent,” Clarkson marveled, telling Renae to “drop the mic” after her performance. “You’re gonna win. If you don’t win, I don’t understand. I love everyone here, but you’re so, so blessed.”
“There’s a beautiful quote that says ‘I judge myself not by what I have, but what I’m willing to give,’ and what you just gave was just pure humanity,” Urban agreed. “It was beautiful.”
For Renae, the praise was extra special coming from a former Idol champ.
“I watched Kelly Clarkson, who came from such humble beginnings, sing her heart out. Her winning moment was very pivotal because I actually started believing that would be me,” Renae explained. “Now, all these years later, Kelly Clarkson is actually watching me on American Idol. Not I just have to win like she did.”