Kelly Clarkson Hosts American Idol Reunion With Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson

She had won the first season of the hit show in 2002, which launched her career.

By Corinne Heller Sep 18, 2019 4:48 PMTags
Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Kelly ClarksonAdam Torgerson/NBCUniversal

Some people wait a lifetime for a reunion like this!

On an episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show that aired on Wednesday, host and singer Kelly Clarkson reunited with the three people that helped make her famous: Simon CowellPaula Abdul and Randy Jackson. This marked the first time all three original American Idol judges have reunited together with Clarkson since she won the first season of the show in 2002, which kickstarted her now-Grammy-winning music career, not to mention her new status as a TV star.

"I actually genuinely do not believe we would be sitting here today if you hadn't entered the show that year," Cowell said. "The whole premise of the show was we had to find a star who was gonna sell records. We found some great people that whole year but when you delivered that moment on that first live show, when you sang that winning song at the end-"

"It was a game-changer," Abdul said.

"We looked at each other at the end, at the finale, and said, 'Wow! This thing is really going to work,'" Jackson. "I think that was the moment that we knew."

Kelly Clarkson Never Wants to Be an Industry Diva

During the show, Cowell, Abdul and Jackson reminisced about how impressed they were by Clarkson from her first audition. The first one seen on the show saw her singing Ella Fitzgerald's "At Last."

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"I freaked out because I was like, 'Who is the English guy?'" Clarkson said. "When I walked in, I'll tell ya, I knew nothing. I literally had just moved back from L.A. My place burned down, I was living in my car for three days here and then finally I was like, 'I gotta go home,' and somebody told me about the audition and I literally walked in, I had no idea what I was doing, I didn't know it was TV show until the audition I was in in front of ya'll."

Jackson called Clarkson a "natural."

"You came in and you were so raw and honest, with no pretense, that I was like, 'Yo, she's fire right there,'" he said.

"I remember thinking, 'What just happened?'" Cowell said.

"Really?" Clarkson replied. "Even if you're lying, I'll take it."

Abdul told Clarkson she knew who you was as an artist and picked the right song.

"I'll never forget, the biggest treat was I was riding in the elevator at CBS with you and you were vocalizing and you were signing opera," Abdul said. "Is there anything this girl can't do?"

Clarkson asked the three about their most memorable American Idol auditions.

"We saw and heard some of the worst singers in America," Cowell said, laughing. "They just kept throwing them onto the show. So we're sitting there going, 'What the hell is going on? This is supposed to be a talent show.'"

"I went right after the girl that sang 'Lady Marmalade' and like, opera," Clarkson said. "And I literally was like, 'Oh, I think I have this.'"

"I swear to God, Kelly, I thought this [show] was going to be such a disaster," Cowell said.

During their chat, Clarkson and Abdul bonded over being the sole female in a judges' panel on a music competition series. Since last year, Clarkson has served as a coach on NBC's The Voice.

"It's hard to be the only girl," Clarkson said. "And they always use you as like, the ditzy thing."

"Never!" Cowell said. "Never, ever, ever."

While this marked the first reunion for all three former American Idol judges with Clarkson, the four have bumped into each other the years. Clarkson and Abdul last reunited onstage at the 2019 Billboard Music Awards in 2019. The two singers had also performed together at the 2009 VH1 Divas event, with American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and finalist-turned Grammy and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.

In August, Cowell received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Clarkson sang his praises in a speech at the ceremony. The two also reunited onstage at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards.

Clarkson and Jackson last reunited at an American Idol taping in 2013, when he still served as a judge. In 2006, the two hung out at the annual Grammy Awards MusicCares event and People's Choice Awards.

Abdul was the first to leave American Idol, departing after season eight in 2009. Cowell followed a year later and Jackson left the show in 2014 after 12 seasons.

Before their appearance on The Kelly Clarkson Show, all three of the original judges last reunited on the final American Idol show to air on FOX in 2016. ABC rebooted the show two years later. Season 18 is expected to premiere in 2020.

During The Kelly Clarkson Show, the typically acerbic Cowell took a rare moment to showcase his softer side, heaping praises on his former colleagues and offering a curious scenario for American Idol aficionados.

"If I'm being honest with you, this does make me think, if I had one wish, it would be to make another show with us again," he said.

"It would be so good!" Clarkson said. "I dare you."

"'ll tell you why, because apart from that fact that we had so much fun, and look, to credit you, Kelly, we wouldn't be here without you," Cowell said. "The fact that you are one of the most successful singers in the world...I have to say something about you, Kelly. Unlike the majority, you are the same person off-camera as you are on-camera and you are very loyal and you're a great friend and I'm and I'm absolutely thrilled for you, genuinely, you deserve everything, you've worked hard for it."

"Our legacy, genuinely, are the artists, starting with you, who we discovered over like this seven-year period, and that's what I'm most proud of," Cowell continued. "I mean, the show's ratings great, that's one thing. But it's who came through the process has made it all worthwhile. And that's why, genuinely, if I could choose who to work with all over again, I would work with these guys again."