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‘American Idol’ on the Charts: Kelly Clarkson Begins Her Second Decade on The Hot 100

Ten years ago this week, the season one winner debuted with "A Moment Like This." Also: Why is Michael Lynche going to a newsstand this weekend?

Kelly Clarkson Performing - H 2012
Mark Sincavage

Momentous Occasion: On The Billboard Hot 100 dated Sept. 21, 2002, the highest new entry of the week was “A Moment Like This” by Kelly Clarkson. Debuting at No. 60, it was the first song by an American Idol competitor to appear on a Billboard chart, and, as we know so well now, not the last. Since this week’s charts are dated Sept. 22, it is 10 years to the week since Clarkson made her momentous debut, and we are now in the second decade of her impressive chart career.

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Idol wasn’t the first TV show to propel an artist or a song onto the Hot 100. The Monkees was arguably the most successful series prior to Idol to do that, with three No. 1 hits on the pop singles charts: “Last Train to Clarksville,” “I’m a Believer” and “Daydream Believer.” A number of TV themes subsequently reached the top spot on the chart, including John Sebastians “Welcome Back” from Welcome Back Kotter, Jan Hammer’s “Miami Vice Theme” from Miami Vice and The Heights' “How Do You Talk to an Angel” from The Heights. And if you go way back in time, you would find top 10 hits including “Love and Marriage” by Frank Sinatra -- not from the long-running Fox series Married ... With Children but the 1955 production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town for NBC’s Producer’s Showcase.

“A Moment Like This” was first heard on the Sept. 3, 2002, season one finale of Idol, when it was performed by Clarkson as well as her rival for the crown, Justin Guarini. “ ‘A Moment Like This’ is one of the most difficult songs I’ve ever had to sing,” Guarini declares. “No conspiracy theory, it was written before anyone knew I going to be part of the finale. It’s just not written for someone who does what I do. I struggled and struggled with it in the studio. … There was a point after the finale when I was with Kelly, and I said: ‘Baby, I did everything, but you’re going to win tomorrow night. I love you.’”

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Guarini was right. Clarkson was named the first American Idol, and within the week, “A Moment Like This” was racking up radio airplay. After bowing on the Hot 100 at No. 60, it made a small eight-point climb to No. 52 in its second week on the chart. But then, sales kicked in, and, the single shot to No. 1 in its third week, breaking a 38-year-old record by The Beatles for the biggest leap to the top in chart history. Clarkson’s amazing 52-1 pole vault bested the Fab Four’s 27-1 jump with “Can’t Buy Me Love” in 1964.

It would have been impossible to predict the day that Hot 100 was published that Idol would have an effect on the charts stretching into a second decade, but as of this week, the show has collected 356 No. 1s (counting all national, domestic charts compiled by Billboard), and 67 finalists from 11 seasons have seen their names appear on the charts.

For Clarkson, “A Moment Like This” was truly just a beginning. Her latest single, “Dark Side,” is her 19th song to appear on the Hot 100. After “Moment,” her two other No. 1 hits were “My Life Would Suck Without You” and “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).” The latter ruled the chart for three weeks, making it her longest-running No. 1, and in July, it set the record for the best-selling digital download in Idol history, with 3.51 million tracks sold.

So how does Clarkson begin her second decade on the Billboard charts? By adding two more No. 1s to her total, giving her 79 chart-toppers to date. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” debuts at No. 1 on both the Hot 100 Recurrents list and the Hot 100 Airplay Recurrents survey, charts that keep track of older songs that are still selling and/or are being played on the radio. That means “Stronger” has now been No. 1 on 15 different Billboard charts, more than any other Clarkson single.

More and "More": Michael Lynche’s single “Who’s Gonna Love You More” has been on the Adult R&B chart for weeks, never going higher than No. 26 until today, when it rebounds 29-25. Since Billboard only prints the top 25 positions in the magazine, Lynche hasn’t been able to see his own name on a chart in print yet – but he will when the Sept. 22 issue hits newsstands this weekend. Actually, he’ll be able to see it twice, since the single makes a debut on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs tally, at No. 84.

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Bits and Pieces: Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away is No. 1 on Top Country Albums for the seventh week. … Phillip Phillips’ "Home” breaks through to the top 10 on the Adult Top 40 chart, where it is up 11-10. … Leah LaBelle’s “Sexify” has been up and down the charts and now is moving up again, making a two-point gain from 100-98 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. … Casey James’ second single, “Crying on a Suitcase,” holds at No. 30 on Hot Country Songs but shows up on two other charts this week, debuting at No. 21 on Bubbling Under the Hot 100 and No. 24 on Heatseekers Songs. … Scotty McCreery’s Clear as Day blasts back onto the official U.K. country albums chart at No. 5 to collect a 39th week on this list. The set is rebounding in the U.S. as well, where it is up 40-39 on Top Country Albums. … Guy Sebastian’s “Battle Scars” (featuring Lupe Fiasco) spends another week at No. 1 in Australia and jumps 8-4 to a new peak position on the singles chart in New Zealand.