In every American Idol
winner's career, there are three hurdles to overcome. First, she must produce great songs; second, she needs to overcome the stigma of reality-TV stardom; and third, she has to earn peer acceptance. Kelly Clarkson
has accomplished all three, tucking two Grammys and six Top 10 hits under her studded belt in one fell swoop. With her pop-rock insta-classics "Since U Been Gone" and "Walk Away," Clarkson effortlessly distanced herself from Idol
's kaleidoscopic screens and karaoke mics while receiving praise of "pop perfection" from even the staunchest of music critics. Her unflappable vocals have floored everyone from Christina Aguilera to Patty Griffin and though she proves herself a trained belter, Clarkson offers a rich coloratura that shames recent-era Mariah Carey. With titanic talent, it's no wonder her idolatry transcends America.