Clarkson's debut single, "A Moment Like This", topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and became the country's best-selling single of 2002.It was followed by the release of her debut album, Thankful (2003), which debuted atop the US Billboard 200.She became the first American female artist to achieve the best-selling holiday album of the year with Wrapped in Red (2013).Following the release of her third number-one album Piece by Piece (2015), Clarkson concluded her contract with RCA Records and signed with Atlantic Records in 2016.
She was ranked nineteenth on VH1's list of 100 Greatest Women in Music.Lack of other career opportunities and a fire incident in her apartment forced Clarkson to return to Burleson, where she worked at a movie theater, promoted Red Bull energy drinks, and worked as a telemarketer and as a cocktail waitress in a comedy club.Upon returning to Burleson, Clarkson was encouraged by her friends to audition for the inaugural season of the reality television series American Idol: The Search for a Superstar in May 2002. I definitely looked like a cocktail waitress." Clarkson went on to win the competition on September 4, 2002, at the Kodak Theatre (now Dolby), earning 58% of the votes against runner-up Justin Guarini and without being sent into the bottom three throughout the season.Despite receiving a "golden ticket," a pass to the Hollywood rounds, in the series premiere, Clarkson made her first appearance during the second episode. They did one season of Pop Idol in the UK but America is a very different market. Immediately after winning American Idol, Clarkson was signed to a record deal with RCA Records, 19 Recordings, and S Records by talent manager Simon Fuller, who created American Idol; and music mogul Clive Davis, who was slated to executive-produce her debut album.In an interview in 2012, Clarkson referred the inaugural season as "ghetto", explaining: "On our season we were like kids in camp. They dropped us off in a mall and said 'find some clothes to wear on national television'. On September 17, 2002, her debut double-A-side single, "Before Your Love"/"A Moment Like This", was released.She also scored a total of over 100 number ones on the Billboard charts.