Once upon a time the first "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson was known as the queen of breakup anthems. Her raging hits and powerful vocals proved hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Failed relationships and frustrating working relationships spurred some of her best songs in her catalog. Though she is now married with two children, her songs live on through each of her hit records and it's certainly been a journey for Clarkson and her fans. AXS is taking a look at her top breakup songs.
"Gone" was taken from Breakaway, the album that catapulted her into the limelight worldwide and gave her superstar status. The track was anticipated as a single as the sticker found on the packaging listed it as a future hit. It did receive minor radio airplay however but was never officially released. "Gone" is straightforward with lyrics like "Your eyes they sparkled/ That's all changed into lies that drop like acid rain/ You washed away the best of me/ You don't care" and the catchy upbeat chorus "You know you did it/ I'm gone/ To find someone to live for in this world/ There's no light at the end of the tunnel tonight/ Just a bridge that I gotta burn." The song ends with fierce vocal lines giving no doubt she's had it.
Originally written as a country waltz like track, Clarkson teamed up with her musical director to create one of her most powerful tracks. Produced by Howard Benson, "Cry" is a ballad that depicts a love gone wrong and it's one she doesn't want to necessarily talk about. "If anyone asks/ I'll tell them we just grew apart/ What do I care if they believe me or not," she writes. The highlight of the song comes during the bridge when she wails, "I'm talking in circles/ I'm lying, they know it/ Why won't this just all go away." Ending the track, Clarkson reaches for the height of her voice for a sustained dramatic finale. Notably, the track was covered on "Glee" by Lea Michele's character Rachel Berry.
Another "gone" song, "Already Gone" was released as the third single from All I Ever Wanted. The ballad was co-written with Ryan Tedder which received controversy when her album was pushed back and Beyoncé released the song "Halo" where she holds little writing credits. Clarkson and Tedder split the writing credit on the track they worked on in early 2008. That prompted Clarkson to perform the hit differently live and she even mocked the situation in the demo "Wash, Rinse, Repeat" and not worked with Tedder since. Aside the drama, "Already Gone" became Clarkson's longest running single, overtaking "Behind These Hazel Eyes." The ballad continues to get airplay from time to time on adult contemporary stations as well. The video for the hit features Clarkson as a ghost and that too caused a stir with her record label. Video mastermind Joseph Kahn spoke out against the label cutting off the end of the video due to RCA saying it was too dark and resembled the previous My December era.
Taken from her most recent album Piece by Piece, "Good Goes the Bye" closes the standard edition of the album on a somber note. A relationship built too fast crumbled just as fast in the rhythmic track. "It's like we pulled a pin out of a grenade/ It just didn't go off right away/ But man did it go off when it finally did," she sings. Her recording differs from the demo with a few lyric changes and a more pop appeal. It's the perfect song to get through the motions of a failed relationship and let out a good cry.
Probably the most bitter song in her catalog is "Never Again" taken from her more alternative rock set My December. It was written around the Breakaway era when she broke up with producer David Hodges. "Behind These Hazel Eyes" was the last song recorded for the second album and "Never Again" was carried over to her third record. Surrounded by public controversy with Clive Davis, "Never Again" became a top 10 hit thanks to the fans and the only single RCA released in the United State. Clarkson laid it all out in the track, calling him out on cheating on her, writing her in a letter and rubbing it in that her face is everywhere. In 2011, she recorded the song for an iTunes EP in a piano style that's just as strong as the original.
Kelly Clarkson may be comfortably in love, but she knows relationships aren't always easy. In 2013, she said "Brandon's bound to piss me off at some point" so one day there might be a feisty song over a fight. Let's hope not and that they live happily ever after.