Welcome home! Kelly Clarkson returned to the American Idol stage for Wednesday's elimination show, but things were very different this time around: The very first Idol winner was there to mentor the nine contestants remaining in season 14.
Not only was the three-time Grammy winner able to give the finalists some real insight into the experience they're currently living, she was also full of very specific, helpful advice — and some risque comments that reminded everyone why they fell in love with the singer from Burleson, Texas 13 years ago.
Read on for the highlights from the two-hour episode that saw 15-year-old singer Daniel Seavey — who was just 3 years old when Clarkson was crowned — eliminated one day before his sweet 16 birthday.
Kelly's Useful Advice
"Find that red dot and make sweet love," she told Nick Fradiani, a Connecticut singer who still hasn't quite mastered the skill of performing for the cameras.
J.Lo's Humor About her Love Life
When Jennifer Lopez mentioned a singer she "used to be married to" (a.k.a. Marc Anthony) in a critique, fellow judge Harry Connick, Jr. cracked that David Hasselhoff was on the show last week. "He's one guy I haven't been married to yet," Lopez shot back. "The night is young," Keith Urban added, to which Lopez responded, "You know I like them young!"
Kelly's Open to Change
"That's my favorite song still to perform live," Clarkson said when Joey Cook told her she was singing "Miss Independent." But when the New Orleans singer put a jazzy twist on the 13-year-old tune, the new mom was deligihted.
Miss Independent is Also Miss Honest
One thing was very clear from Clarkson's mentoring sessions and her onstage banter with Connick — she doesn't hold back. "She has this energy to her that immediately puts you at ease," Cook dished to Us backstage after the show. "She has no filter. There's nothing there. She is just herself. She's like, 'Boom boom boom this is exactly what I'm thinking right now.' She's so funny!"
The Critiques Got a Little Weird -- and Flirty
After Quentin Alexander's moody performance of "Dark Side," Clarkson gave Ryan Seacrest a note about Alexander that read, "I want to make sweet love to those amazing eyes." And after Clark Beckham put his bluesy spin on her song from the Love Actually soundtrack, "The Trouble With Love Is," Clarkson told him she thought she might be pregnant from his performance. Oooookay, Kelly!
Kelly Is Self-Aware
"I saw her and she was like, 'I hope I didn't freak you out,'" Alexander told Us after the show.
We're All Old
Clarkson was just 20 years old when she auditioned for Idol in front of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson, and it was a delightful walk down memory lane to relive her audition. That is, before the deep depression that sunk in when we remembered that happened 13 years ago, when latest eliminated contestant Seavey was practically a fetus and his fellow teen Jax was in kindergarten. At least 29-year-old Fradiani was in high school then.
Kelly's a Superfan Too
When Seacrest introduced Clarkson to the judges, she gushed to Connick about one time she'd seen him perform years ago (just like you'd do when confronted with an artist you love).
Harry's a Crap Dad
When Connick told Clarkson his daughters were huge fans of hers, she chastised him for not bringing them to meet her.
The Idol Save Is Now a Thing
Idol producers are clearly toying with the format now that the show is one night only, and the newest gimmick they've added is the Idol Save. Instead of the lowest vote-getter going home, America will now have five minutes at the end of every episode to tweet support for the singer they want to stay in the competition.
The eliminated contestant doesn't go home without singing anymore — now the bottom two get to perform before the Twitter vote. Rayvon Owen managed to beat out an ill Seavey's iffy "Breakaway" with a slowed-down version of "Since U Been Gone."
American Idol airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.
Tell Us: Should Kelly Clarkson officially be declared a national treasure? Did the right singer go home? What did you think of the Idol Save?