Ten years ago tonight, families all over the United States sat down in front of their televisions and watched the first episode of the first season of a new Fox-TV series called "American Idol." It's doubtful that anyone on either side of the camera had any idea what impact the program would have, or that ten years later to the day, the show would be responsible for an astounding 345 No. 1s on the Billboard charts and that 64 of the 132 finalists would have seen their names on those same charts.
The American Idol with the most No. 1s is the very first winner, Kelly Clarkson. She has collected 73 Billboard chart-toppers to date, starting with the season one coronation song, "A Moment Like This." On the Hot 100 dated Oct. 5, 2002, "A Moment Like This" soared 52-1, setting the record for the biggest leap to pole position, besting the 27-1 jump of the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" 38 years earlier.
Clarkson is still rewriting chart history ten years after the series premiered. Last week, her single "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" went from strength to strength as it entered the Mainstream Top 40 Recurrents chart at No. 1. It is the tenth chart where "Stronger" has captured the throne, following reigns on Hot Digital Songs, Hot Digital Tracks, the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Dance Club Play, Adult Top 40, Adult Top 40 Audience, Mainstream Top 40, Mainstream Top 40 Audience and Adult Contemporary.
"Stronger" is the second Clarkson song to be No. 1 on ten different Billboard charts. In December 2004, "Since U Been Gone" went to No. 1 on Hot Digital Tracks and over the next 13 months, also topped the Pop 100, Pop 100 Airplay, Mainstream Top 40, Mainstream Top 40 Audience, Dance Airplay, Mainstream Top 40 Recurrents, Pop 100 Recurrents, Adult Top 40 Recurrents and Hot 100 Recurrents. "Since U Been Gone" is Clarkson's most successful single on the Hot 100 [see her top 10], even though it had to settle for peaking at No. 2. It tied its immediate predecessor, "Breakaway," for the longest run of any Clarkson song on this chart, with 46 weeks on the list.
Clarkson's 73 chart-toppers include No. 1s on Billboard's country charts. In 2007, Clarkson just missed going to the head of the class when her duet with Reba McEntire, a remake of Clarkson's 2005 hit "Because Of You," peaked at No. 2. But in 2011, Clarkson teamed up with Jason Aldean on "Don't You Wanna Stay." The single ruled Country Digital Songs for two weeks in February of that year, and a month later began a three-week reign on Hot Country Songs.
Two albums by the singer from Burleson, Texas have crowned The Billboard 200. "Thankful," her debut release, spent one week at No. 1 in May 2003 and "All I Ever Wanted" began a two-week reign in March 2009. Ironically, the albums that produced her biggest Hot 100 hits, "Breakaway" and the current "Stronger," both missed the golden ring. The former peaked at No. 3 and the latter had to settle for topping out at No. 2.
Clarkson's longest-running No. 1 is her soundtrack single "Breakaway," from the film "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement." While the song peaked at No. 6 on the Hot 100, it topped the Adult Contemporary tally for 21 weeks in 2005, and enjoyed an even longer rule on the companion Adult Contemporary Audience chart, where it was No. 1 for 28 weeks.
Ten years after the premiere of "American Idol," the series is already in production on season 12 - Los Angeles auditions were held on June 7. As the series begins its second decade on the air, Clarkson will begin her second decade on the Billboard charts on Sept. 21, 10 years to the day after "A Moment Like This" debuted on the Hot 100. No one knows how long "Idol" will last - just last month Fox Networks Group president David Haslingden predicted the series would run "15, 16, 17 seasons." But Clarkson? There's no reason to think she won't be on the Billboard charts for a third, fourth or fifth decade. Who's ready to attend the Kelly Clarkson 50th anniversary tour in 2062?
KELLY CLARKSON'S TOP 10 HITS ON THE BILLBOARD HOT 100
Rank, Title, (Peak Year), Hot 100 Peak Position (weeks spent at No. 1)
1. "Since U Been Gone" - (2005) - No. 2
2. "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" - (2012) - No. 1 (3 weeks)
3. "Behind These Hazel Eyes" - (2005) - No. 6
4. "Breakaway" - (2004) - No. 6
5. "Because of You" - (2005) - No. 7
6. "My Life Would Suck Without You" - (2009) - No. 1 (2 weeks)
7. "A Moment Like This" - (2002) - No. 1 (2 weeks)
8. "Miss Independent" - (2003) - No. 9
9. "Already Gone" - (2009) - No. 13
10. "Walk Away" - (2006) - No. 12
This ranking is based on actual performance on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 chart through the tally dated June 16, 2012. Songs are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at No. 100 earning the least. To ensure equitable representation of the biggest hits from each era, certain time frames were weighted to account for the difference between turnover rates from those years.