I’ve done The Saturdays, I’ve done Demi Lovato (truly getting through the greats here!!) but this weekend I’m turning my deep-dive attention to a strong contender for my favourite singer of all time; co-president of Christmas, queen of covers and destroyer of emotions Kelly Clarkson.
Her new album is (apparently) en route, she’s on a new duet that’s coming out in a few days, her talkshow is continuing to thrive… what better time to look back at her 19-year-long collection of hit musique?!
Here are what I believe to be her 12 greatest non-singles, presented in no particular order. This was nay easy!
Don’t Let Me Stop You
Not only did Claude Kelly co-write My Life Would Suck Without You – in my opinion Kelly’s greatest single!! – he also provided her with this absolute monster of an album track; a song that could easily have replaced I Do Not Hook Up as the second cut. Huge chorus, big attitude, wonderful bridge… spectacular!
I ADORE this one. Written by Matthew Koma – who also worked on the best bits of Hilary Duff’s Breathe In Breathe Out era – it’s an actually kinda low-key kiss-off; an exasperated shoulder-shrug that essentially goes, ‘well, I hope you found what you were looking for, ya big knob’. Sometimes I wonder if it feels like it finishes too soon, but generally this is one of my favourite ever songs in Kelly’s repertoire – deep cut or not.
The thing that makes Breakaway feel like such a blockbuster album is that even the songs that weren’t massive singles feel like they were massive singles, you know? That’s true of Gone more than anything: the production is soooo early/mid-2000s, and I can just SEE a music video where it’s Kelly against a white backdrop with all sorts of swishy-swishy VFX and moody cutaways.
The haunting closer on My December, Irvine is where we peel back all the fire elsewhere on the album to find an utterly crushed person underneath. She once said of its inception: “Irvine, it literally was the lowest point I’ve had in my life. I wrote it after my Irvine show on my last tour… The whole song is a prayer. I wrote it in the bathroom of the venue after the show. I had to cancel my meet-and-greet; it’s the only meet-and-greet I’ve ever canceled. I couldn’t smile. It was just a really, really bad night.” Kelly has truly been THROUGH IT in her career, and this is where she channels that into artistic brilliance.
Winter Dreams ([REDACTED]’s Song)
It’s a shame she put her bloody husband’s name in the title because this is a timelessly wonderful Christmas banger.
Just Missed The Train
Thankful has some stunning R&B moments but this is where we get our first little peek at the pop-rocky direction that would be more heavily pursued on Breakaway and beyond. Yearning vocals, great early-2000s semi-balladry… it’s an Era One masterpiece.
Let Me Down
Do I remember rightly that this was initially rumoured to be Stronger’s lead single? It would have been a fair choice: ten years into her career, Kelly’s voice has a little more raspy grit to it – so songs like this, in which she properly lets rip, really do soar.
I debated with myself for ages about whether to include Medicine or Would You Call That Love from the Meaning of Life album, but I went for this in the end: it takes Kelly’s trademark anti-bullshit lyrics and parks them in a strut-a-long, 90s-Mariah-inspired sassfest; one of this era’s most outwardly enjoyable moments.
Take You High
I like how… un-Kelly Clarkson this song is??? It was reported in the run-up to Piece By Piece’s release that she was open to trying out some unexpected things, and Take You High is – for her, anyway – certainly that. This kind of glitchy, manipulated non-chorus was overused like hell in the mid-late 2010s, but it was fresh and thrilling here; especially when mixed with things like dramatic strings, layered belty vocals and enormous percussion.
Tip Of My Tongue
A deluxe edition bonus track on All I Ever Wanted, I remember having a very Cry Me A River-esque music video fully storyboarded in my head. I promise you, it would have been EXCEPTIONAL. This is one of the songs Kelly made with Ryan Tedder, and though things obviously went south between them amid the whole Already Gone/Halo ‘furore’, this is concrete proof that they ended their working relationship way too soon.
Kelly’s great at savagely destroying people with glass-shattering, stadium-sized anthems; but this song (a hidden track after Irvine on My December) proves she’s just as effective when things are kept simple, low-key and almost totally unphased. She sounds kinda drunk, and I love it.
Beautiful Disaster (Live)
This just became such an iconic song, didn’t it?! The original, as it appeared on Thankful, is actually pretty boppy; so this stripped-back piano version, recorded live on tour and stuck on the end of Breakaway as a bonus track, was quite the revelation. It gave a lot of teenagers allllll the angsty, emotional drama they (…we) needed.
Honourable mentions: Long Shot, Whyyawannabringmedown, Maybe, How I Feel, Addicted, You Found Me, Where Is Your Heart?, Some Kind Of Miracle, Alone, I Forgive You, You Can’t Win, You Love Me, Nostalgic, In The Blue, Didn’t I, Would You Call That Love