By Grady Smith
February 08, 2012 at 10:54 PM EST

Following a well-received national anthem at the most-watched Super Bowl in television history, Kelly Clarkson’s career is “Stronger” than ever.

The title track of her latest album climbed atop Billboard‘s Hot 100 today, forcing Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain” into second place, and became the original American Idol’s third number one single. (She formerly reached the Hot 100 summit in 2002 with “A Moment Like This” and in 2009 with “My Life Would Suck Without You.”)

Kelly’s not the first diva to get a big Super Bowl boost. When Cher sang the national anthem in 1999, “Believe” hopped from No. 13 to No. 4 and then hit No. 1 a few weeks later. When Whitney Houston honored the U.S. in 1992, her single “All the Man that I Need” moved from No. 8 to No. 1 in three short weeks. It took Kelly only three days. Kicking off the biggest event in the sports zeitgeist certainly has its advantages.

But there was more at play here than just a great rendition of the anthem. For starters, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” is a terrific song (certainly a more memorable track than lead single “Mr. Know It All”) that falls right into Kelly Clarkson’s wheelhouse: poppy post-breakup empowerment anthems. It was destined to climb the chart — although probably a bit more slowly if she hadn’t opened the Super Bowl and gotten key placement in a certain Toyota ad…

You know the one I’m talking about. The Camry ad which has celebrity test-drivers alongside Clarkson belting “Stronger” when it comes on the radio. The commercial has been running in high rotation for the past month, undoubtedly boosting the song’s profile.

Whatever the reason for the song’s success, we’re happy to see Kelly on top of the chart. She and Adele are a welcome antidote to the auto-tuned Ibiza-sonics that can sometimes feel inescapable on the Hot 100.

The Super Bowl’s other diva performer, Madonna, debuted at a highly respectable number 13 with her single “Give Me All Your Luvin’,” — and preorders on her upcoming MDNA and her greatest-hits collection Celebration both received major post-Bowl boosts on iTunes, taking the no. 1 and no. 3 album spots, respectively.

Are you excited for Kelly’s latest number one?

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