While we're enjoying three time Grammy Award winner Kelly Clarkson's new single "Heartbeat Song," there's so much to her career and catalog that has made her one of the greatest artists of this generation. When Clarkson won "American Idol" on Sept. 4, 2002, it was obvious she was talented enough but only has her growth from album to album proved just how stylized she is. Over 12 years later, America has watched her come into her own and last year, into motherhood now in her 30s. Clarkson's singles usually do well at radio, but her albums are where the real magic is. AXS is picking out 10 of her deeper cuts not heard on radio.
"Maybe" was first previewed in 2006 during the Addicted Tour that visited 25 cities, Clarkson's fourth tour in two years. The first version performed for fans was more rock and intense. It was included on the final track listing of her third album My December in 2007 but was given more of a tame singer-songwriter treatment. It quickly became a fan favorite with lyrics like, "I'm confusing as hell/ I'm north and south/ And I'll probably never have it all figured out..."
Kelly's fifth album Stronger earned her another Grammy and was to date Clarkson's most mature and best work. Cohesive and skillfully put together, the album includes what she called her "Radiohead song" citing it her intense "wailer." "Honestly" had a demo leak with a male vocal and the track was heavier led by drum programming. Kelly's final recording was a little more subtle in production but the vocals sail out of the park.
Also taken from the Best Pop Vocal Album Stronger, "Breaking Your Own Heart" touches on Kelly's ventures into the country world. Heavily influenced with that Southern style, "Heart" is a ballad with skilled vocals, not over the top and spot on about not quite letting love in when it's been wanted for so long. Though an album track, the song is easily a memorable song for anyone who owns the album.
"Addicted" came from Clarkson's first Grammy winning album Breakaway, released in Nov. 2004. The massive album spawned hit after hit showcasing her pop rock chops and making a name for herself away from the "Idol" image. "Addicted" became a staple to fan favorites for being a piano rock ballad, dark and powerful. It inspired the title of her 2006 tour and the song has gone through many changes through the old setlists.
6. "Close Your Eyes"
"Close Your Eyes" is actually an unreleased demo but one worthy of hearing where her singer-songwriter styling happened. It was leaked in March 2008 and a short clip of a "real rough draft" as she called it could be heard in a My December Tour behind the scenes video. It's the expression of committing, even if it's rough. "If you start to fall/ I promise I'll fall with you," she sings over a simple melodic structure. It's unfortunate this demo hasn't been brought to its full potential.
5. "Love In These Eyes"
"Love In These Eyes" is a leftover track from 2004's Breakaway that has been known to fans for quite some time before leaking in 2011. While most of the leaked songs have been removed from YouTube, this cut rock ballad was left up. Perhaps because it's a leftover and not unfinished work? Whatever the reason, it paints a bigger picture of what the Breakaway sessions were about.
Written in Irvine, California where Clarkson crumbled under pressure, canceled the one and only meet and greet and was worn out, she sat on the floor writing this prayer song. One of the saddest songs anyone could listen to at a low point, Kelly has never performed it live but included a remix to the opening of the My December Tour in 2007. The song was recorded one time, in her closet and on her laptop. The original demo was given by her guitarist via MySpace back in the day, and there's only a few subtle differences--some reverb on the vocals and a little hum that was cut for the record. To this day, she has never spoken about what prompted the writing. Not only is it a deeper cut but could be the deepest cut in her catalog.
"Standing In Front Of You" was included on Stronger and has an epic feel, one she says feel like it should have been in a movie. In 2010, the original demo leaked and had more of an 80s vibe to it. Requested per the label, she amped it up with her team. The song was produced by her longtime musical director, written with her guitarist and drums recorded by her drummer. It's almost too perfect for a wedding song.
This power ballad ala Mariah/Céline comes from Clarkson's 2009 album All I Ever Wanted. Clarkson first described the song as like a country waltz in the beginning but the album version is nowhere near that description. It's nonetheless one of her best vocal performances reaching heights many singers could only dream of.
1. "Hear Me"
One of Clarkson's hardest hitting rock songs, "Hear Me" became another staple to fan favorites for its in your face intensity. It was always a tour favorite and Kelly sang it as a fan request at a show early in 2012, giving it yet another spin to freshen it up the deeper cut. "Hear Me" was written by Clarkson and describes the feeling she was having in her career being in the spotlight. The Rolling Stone performance is also notable for her vocal strength while promoting the album. Songs like these bring back so many memories or her journey from being bullied in the music industry to having her happily ever after.