By Randee Dawn, TODAY contributor
Monday was a big day for many, especially President Barack Obama, who was inaugurated for the second time. But the pomp and circumstance also put attention on several "American Idol" alumni, highlighting just what an impact on culture the reality show can have.
Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson were among some of the brightest lights to perform on Monday, alongside such rock icons as Stevie Wonder and James Taylor. Clarkson's "My Country 'Tis of Thee" was the second song performed at the public swearing-in event, while Hudson emerged at the Commander-in-Chief's Ball. The president and the first lady danced to her rendition of "Let's Stay Together."
Later, Clarkson tweeted a picture of herself greeting the president, noting, "Maybe the coolest photo I've ever been in ... ever ;)" and a shot of her informal chat with fellow inaugural performer Beyonce: "Me and B just hangin' out ... don't worry about it. Seriously, God did good. She is so beautiful!"
All in all, the day was likely the most prominent display of "Idol's" ability to discover and shape superstars who have a long-range appeal on the American music scene.
Interestingly, it comes at a time when the woman who arguably has made the most out of her post-"Idol" career, Jennifer Hudson, has reportedly suggested that the series may be past its sell-by date.
"Everything has its time," Hudson reportedly told Celebuzz. "I think it ('American Idol') should just allow itself to go out on top ... and gracefully."
The singer-actress, who has an Oscar for her performance in "Dreamgirls," has recently been brought on to headline the NBC series "Smash."
But as she acknowledges, "Idol" is like no other series. "'American Idol' changed the face of television," she said. "So, not everyone can say that. And it's always been a phenomenon. I'm proud to have come from 'American Idol,' so I just say, go out on top.'"