An unforgettable “Moment”: 20 years ago Saturday, Kelly Clarkson released her coronation song

Kelly Clarkson won American Idol on September 4, 2002, and in a shower of sparks, she belted out her coronation single, “A Moment Like This.” But it wasn’t until September 17, 2002 — 20 years ago this Saturday — that the song was released as a single, and its success set the bar for all future American Idol winners’ songs.

Fans rushed to buy the song; it sold 236,000 copies in its first week, good enough for a #60 debut on the Billboard Hot 100. It moved up on the chart its second week, and on October 5, jumped 51 positions to number one, where it stayed for two weeks. It was the largest single-week jump to number one in history.

The number-one success of “A Moment Like This” instantly validated the premise of American Idol: that it could produce genuine music stars. In the show’s first ten years, Idol winners and contestants made good on that promise, releasing songs and albums that topped Billboard’s many, many charts 345 times — in genres ranging from pop and country to Christian and dance. 

Even the show’s best-known “joke” contestant, William Hung, was number one: In 2004, his album Inspiration topped Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart for two weeks.

However, out of American Idol’s 20 seasons, only three other winners’ coronation singles actually reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100: Carrie Underwood’s “Inside Your Heaven,” Fantasia‘s “I Believe” and Taylor Hicks‘ “Do I Make You Proud.” Even Phillip Phillips‘ “Home,” the best-selling single by an Idol contestant, only reached number six.

Still, “A Moment Like This” remains a symbol of the music industry power American Idol had. On her most recent tour in 2019, Kelly was still performing it as part of her set list.

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