Pop singer Kelly Clarkson's road to music superstardom was not instantaneous after her "American Idol" win in 2002. Even with a major label behind her, it would take two years for Clarkson to find her niche in the industry. She truly transcended the "Idol" tag 10 years ago with her sophomore album Breakaway, a 12-track set steeped in attitude-packed pop-rock. Kelly's then new sound struck a chord with audiences on a worldwide level. Her breakthrough as a legitimate artist would be solidified with the single, “Since U Been Gone.”
Following her "Idol" win, Clarkson released her debut album Thankful shortly after. She dabbed in R&B-influenced music on the double-Platinum release. As Randy Jackson probably said, Kelly could “sing anything including the phone book” and this was true. Like P!nk before her, though, it would take a second album to see that Clarkson's powerhouse vocals were better suited in a pop-rock arena. The genre switch up was a gamble but it paid off big time with Breakaway selling over 6 million copies in the U.S. She avoided the sophomore slump and found an audience beyond "Idol" along the way.
Breakaway was bolstered by “Since U Been Gone,” Clarkson's signature breakup anthem produced by proven hit-maker Max Martin and then newcomer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald. After slipping through P!nk's and Hilary Duff's hands, “Gone” found a home with Clarkson. The song about feeling liberated from a crappy relationship was the perfect mix of power pop and punk rock influences. Kelly's big voice only amplified its kiss-off message. Once she blasted her way up the charts and onto radio, the follow-up singles from Breakaway would find similar success.
Kelly also honed her songwriting on Breakaway, penning six songs with the best company. The haunting ballad she reportedly fought to release, “Because of You,” was originally written by her and later polished by former Evanescence members David Hodges and Ben Moody. She teamed up with Martin and Dr. Luke as well on “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” a thunderous breakup track. The "Spy Kids"-esque “Walk Away” was another song Clarkson co-wrote with Kara DioGuardi, Chantel Kreviazuk and Raine Maida. She was at her sassiest on the power pop track, singing, “Do you care for me? / 'Cause if you don't, then just leave.” All the aforementioned singles went Top 10 minus the No. 12 peak of “Walk Away.”
Avril Lavigne contributed a song to the project, the empowering “Breakaway” from the The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement soundtrack. Kelly's powerhouse vocals took it to the next level as she sang, “I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly / I'll do what it takes 'til I touch the sky.” She made the impossible seem real with her endearing performance. “Gone” was another song DioGuardi co-wrote with John Shanks for Clarkson. It was the best single that never was from Breakaway. Dealing again with moving onto better pastures after a break up, she powerfully sang, “You know you did it / I'm gone to find someone to live for in this world.” The fiery track was a live favorite during her sold-out tours for the album.
Clarkson would foreshadow the very dark sound of her follow-up album My December on “Addicted,” a heartbreaking ode to a toxic relationship that she wrote with Hodges and Moody. The Breakaway album presented Kelly as a bada** pop star instead of some manufactured "Idol" act. She found her voice and artistry on the amped-up release, breaking through to ultimately find her place in the grand scheme of the pop universe.