Kelly Clarkson on How Daughter River Caused Her to Break Down During American Idol Performance

03/03/2016 at 11:30 AM ET

Kelly Clarkson is opening up about her “embarrassing,” tear-soaked performance of “Piece by Piece” on American Idol last week — and pointing fingers at 20-month-old daughter River Rose.

“I didn’t realize it was gonna be that bad,” Clarkson tells Ellen DeGeneres on Thursday’s episode of Ellen. “And we were rehearsing that day and I just couldn’t get through it.”

Clarkson, the original American Idol winner, sang during her stint as a guest judge on the series’ final season. She became audibly choked up during the song, which is about her husband’s great parenting and the absence of her own dad during her youth.

Kelly Clarkson on Ellen
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros

The 33-year-old says part of her emotional response was due to the nostalgia factor: “My 1-year-old is running around the same hallway as I was [at] 19.”

She continues, “I came off almost in tears for a different reason because I was so embarrassed. I was like, ‘Oh God, this is my final thing on Idol and I could not hold it together.’ I was almost losing it almost the entire song.”

Clarkson’s pregnancy with her and “great husband” and “great father” Brandon Blackstock‘s second child — a son — also played a role.

Kelly Clarkson on Ellen
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros

“He was [at Idol], my little girl was there, my little boy was turning circles in my stomach. It was nostalgic,” she explains. “It was the last time I was gonna be on Idol and it’s ending. I was screwed from the get-go.”

She jokes, “Emotionally, I was on a slip and slide from hell.”

The singer insists that regardless, she’s “proud” of herself “for making it as far as I did.”

“My husband knows me well. I came right off stage and he was like, ‘Don’t ruin it. Don’t ruin the moment.’ Because I was like, ‘It was so embarrassing, oh my God. I cried the whole time.’ ”

Kelly Clarkson on Ellen
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros

Of River, Clarkson says, “she’s pretty rock n’ roll” — but maybe too friendly. “It’s kinda scary because she would go home with anyone,” she shares.

The little girl is also infatuated with DeGeneres — but in fish form.

“River is constantly watching Finding Nemo,” says Clarkson, adding to the host, “I feel like we live together, you’re always in my house.”

DeGeneres then, appropriately, gifted the singer both Nemo and Dory costumes — one for River and one for her little brother.

— Lindsay Kimble

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Showing 18 comments

lilly pond on

She is always a hot mess.

Dancer92136 on

Just love her…talented, yes!!! But, so real, normal, and her daughter is just the happiest kid on the planet, and that says a lot.

Mary on

She should be embarrassed as it’s unprofessional to not perform like you are paid to do. People wanted to see you sing a song not be a blubbering mess. Pathetic!!

Stacy on

God she’s HUGE!!! Pregnancy is not an excuse to just eat everything and anything. She was sitting there talking to Ellen and you could see her breathing heavy. People need to understand being overweight, or underweight, is NOT healthy and even more so when you’re pregnant!!

Lana on

I thought it was a touching performance and I had tears streaming down my face when she was singing. It is a song so many people can relate to. I also love the name of her daughter and I am happy that Clarkson has such a great family life.

SusieKJ on

I don’t watch AI, but watched her clip later. I was very moved by the lyrics and given the moment and pregnancy, I can understand why she had a hard time keeping it together. She shouldn’t be embarrassed at all. She’s still the best AI winner of all time imo.

Anonymous on

Stop with the negative comments! Get the F**k out of here if you don’t have anything nice to say!

ridiculous on

Yes she is big, but let me inform you that can happen during your pregnancy no matter how much you eat. If you look she is severely swollen in her hands and face, telling you she is retaining a lot of water. I did the same exact thing in my first pregnancy.. I didn’t eat barely anything throughout my pregnancy because it made me sick but still managed to gain 50 lbs (because I retained so much fluid). So, please refrain from comments you obviously have no experience with.

Etsy on

We are all human! I think Kelly did a great job performing that night. As for her weight. She knows she is heavy and it’s really her business. Being pregnant is hard enough without other people making comments on one’s eating and weight and clothing! Come on mamas- be kind to each other!
She had a difficult childhood in some ways and she has come through the other side…celebrate her!

Natalie on

Yeah the fact that some of you are commenting such rude and nasty things is disgusting. What on earth is wrong with you, this was beautiful and commenting on her weight? REALLY I’m sure you guys behind the screens just have perfect bodies too right? Y’all are so negative, try being positive you will feel better.

Cathy on

I thought it was a great performance, very touching, she did a good job.

Rachel on

The same people commenting negatively this time are the same people who comment negatively on EVERY article about Kelly. I really don’t understand the negativity either because if you don’t care for her then stop reading stuff about her. I don’t go looking for articles on the Kardashians just so I can rip them to shreds… it’s tacky. And her performance was absolutely beautiful and touching. Her emotions made it even more so. She didn’t get emotional until nearly the very end of the song and she kept going. For the person who said it’s unprofessional… since when? No one wants to go watch an artist perform and show no emotion at all. That’s absolutely brutal. Music is emotion!

Anonymous on

SHAME ON YOU IDIOTS WHO ARE MAKING SUCH NASTY COMMENTS. WHERE IS YOUR HUMANITY? YOUR LIFE THAT SAD THAT YOU WOULD TAKE PLEASURE IN SAYING HATEFUL COMMENTS ABOUT OTHERS TO MAKE YOURSELF FEEL BETTER? THAT IS UGLY AND MEAN SPIRITED. I FIND THAT PEOPLE THAT SAY SUCH UGLY THINGS ABOUT OTHERS “DO NOT” HAVE HAPPINESS IN THEIR LIFE.

Obvious Life Is Miserable on

SHAME ON YOU IDIOTS WHO ARE MAKING SUCH NASTY COMMENTS. WHERE IS YOUR HUMANITY? YOUR LIFE THAT SAD THAT YOU WOULD TAKE PLEASURE IN SAYING HATEFUL COMMENTS ABOUT OTHERS TO MAKE YOURSELF FEEL BETTER? THAT IS UGLY AND MEAN SPIRITED. I FIND THAT PEOPLE THAT SAY SUCH UGLY THINGS ABOUT OTHERS “DO NOT” HAVE HAPPINESS IN THEIR LIFE. SHE IS BEAUTIFUL AND AN INCREDIBLE VOICE.

Tee on

My gracious, I am absolutely astonished at how nasty and downright ugly people can get in the comments section on an article. Based on most of these comments, you’d think Kelly Clarkson had gone around kicking everyone’s puppy!

Mary, I’m going to have to wholeheartedly disagree with you. Kelly has NO reason to be ashamed of that performance. To have any kind of artist show true emotion is a beautiful thing. That means the artist has passion poured into their work.

And of all of you insulting her weight and appearance, seriously! Kelly is expecting a baby. That’s a true blessing. And guess what? Pregnancy makes people gain weight. It’s just a fact. Sheesh.

Em on

Lol it wasn’t just idol. She cried while performing that song on almost every single tour stop before she had to cancel the rest of her tour. And we in the crowd, sobbed right along with her because many of us know from experience exactly what this song says, means and feels like in reality.

And, Mary sometimes yes, it is unprofessional to cry while singing but she’s Kelly-F*****g-Clarkson!! Literally one of the most talented vocalists in the world and you want to nitpick!! That song and that performance will go down in history as one of the best specifically because she cried and put real emotion behind her artistry! You try to sing about one of the most traumatic and yet greatest and most passionate moments and tell me you wouldn’t shed a tear or show some sort of reaction. I’m a performer as well so I know exactly how it feels. Even in theater and acting they tell you to just let it happen and live truthfully in the moment while using it to power your character and actions through the scene. I feel sorry for people like you..

Tonja on

It was an honest and heartfelt performance on AI. I will always be a fan. Shame on those who have said rude things about Kelly. I think she is one of the most talented and down to earth performers out there and beautiful at any size.

Paula Stephens on

First off in your last month is when your hormones are the worst. With that being said. I weighed 105 my first time pregnant for twins. I am a vegetarian , not by choice but born with stomach lining problems. I ate nothing different I’m not a junk food eater at all. I was so worried because I gained over 150 pounds.

We went to two other specialists for second and third opinions. Well I had a strep b infection my Dr. Never even bothered to test cause he said that was not it. Well I went into labor at seven months well one more week 7 months.our son died because they did not think he would be born that quick. Brain injury from not giving him oxygen right away.

We had a daughter transferred to a top hospital with the best neonatal care. She hung on for a month. They put a stint in her and she had a massive stroke on the operating table. We had no choice but to have her taken off life support. I have never smoked drank pregnant or not. Drugs no obviously as well.

It’s horrible to say anything about someone that is pregnant. Know one knows someone else’s medical history. Besides its not nice even if someone was not pregnant and they were heavy. People could be deathly ill, or hereditary sometimes. Specially thyroid problems.

I just don’t get why people today are so gunho on bullying and judging others. It’s such a shame. So many girls have been driven to serious eating disorders for just this kind of talk. Look at Karen carpenter and many others. Suicide as well.sad world we live into today. What a shame.