Kelly Clarkson's 10 best songs, ranked

4 June 2024, 13:04

Kelly Clarkson's best songs ever
Kelly Clarkson's best songs ever. Picture: Kelly Clarkson/YouTube

By Tom Eames

From the moment Kelly Clarkson burst onto the music scene as the first American Idol, she has captivated audiences with her powerful voice and relatable lyrics.

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With a career that spans over two decades, Kelly Clarkson has not only remained relevant but has also consistently delivered hit after hit, cementing her place in the hearts of fans worldwide.

She has songs ranging from pop anthems to soulful ballads, and one of the greatest voices of the 21st century.

Join us as we explore the best songs that define Kelly Clarkson’s illustrious career and discover why each one holds a special place in pop music greatness.

  1. Heartbeat Song

    Kelly Clarkson - Heartbeat Song

    'Heartbeat Song' is a vibrant, up-tempo track from her seventh studio album Piece by Piece, released in 2015.

    Co-written by Clarkson, Kara DioGuardi, Jason Evigan, and Audra Mae, the song marks a return to Clarkson's pop roots with its catchy melody and upbeat lyrics celebrating new love and fresh beginnings.

    Its heartbeat sound effect at the beginning is derived from a recording of Clarkson's own daughter, River Rose's heartbeat while she was still in the womb.

    She later said: "The loss of hope and love [after getting dumped], that's a very sad time in people's lives. But then to have that renewed faith come back, and bumping into someone at the coffee shop or wherever, and then a whole new life can spring from that, that's inspiring."

  2. Beautiful Disaster

    Kelly Clarkson - Beautiful Disaster

    'Beautiful Disaster' was featured on her debut album, Thankful, released in 2003. It also appears in a live acoustic version on her second album, Breakaway.

    Written by Matthew Wilder and Rebekah Jordan, 'Beautiful Disaster' delves into the complexities of a troubled relationship, highlighting both the beauty and chaos within.

    The live acoustic version, recorded during Clarkson's AOL Sessions, offers a stripped-down arrangement that emphasizes her vocal delivery.

    Although not released as a single, 'Beautiful Disaster' has become a fan favourite and a staple in Clarkson's live performances.

  3. I Hate Love

    Kelly Clarkson Performs 'i hate love' | Kellyoke

    'I Hate Love' is a pop-punk anthem from her 2023 album Chemistry. The song delves into the emotional rollercoaster of love, reflecting Clarkson's personal experiences with its highs and lows.

    The track includes a banjo played by actor Steve Martin, inspired by Clarkson's admiration for his music during the early days of the pandemic.

    The song's lyrics draw a stark contrast between the idealized love depicted in The Notebook and the more realistic portrayal in It's Complicated, mirroring Clarkson's own journey through a high-profile divorce.

  4. Breakaway

    Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway (VIDEO)

    'Breakaway' was originally intended for Avril Lavigne's debut album. However, it found its perfect match in Clarkson's powerful voice. The title track of her second studio album, Breakaway, marked a significant shift in Clarkson's career, establishing her as a versatile artist capable of delivering heartfelt ballads and energetic pop-rock anthems.

    'Breakaway' peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the chart for an impressive 46 weeks. The song was featured in the soundtrack of the film The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, further boosting its popularity.

    The lyrics, co-written by Lavigne, describe breaking free from limitations and pursuing one's dreams. Avril's original version was finally released for her 20th anniversary edition of Let Go in 2023.

  5. Stronger

    Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) [Official Video]

    'Stronger', released in 2011, is a powerful anthem of resilience and empowerment. The song, from her fifth studio album Stronger, became a commercial success and received critical acclaim for its uplifting message and Clarkson's dynamic vocal performance.

    It won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album in 2013.

    The song's full title, 'Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)', references Friedrich Nietzsche's famous quote, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

    This track became Clarkson's third number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Its catchy chorus and motivating lyrics struck a chord with listeners, making it a popular choice for fitness playlists and motivational events.

  6. Underneath the Tree

    Kelly Clarkson - Underneath the Tree (Official Video)

    Kelly Clarkson pulled off a rare feat in 2013 by creating a brand new Christmas anthem that has stood the test of time over a decade later.

    'Underneath the Tree' was released in 2013, from her first Christmas album, Wrapped in Red. Co-written by Clarkson and Greg Kurstin, who also produced the song, it captures the spirit of the season with its upbeat tempo and jubilant lyrics.

    The song was critically acclaimed for its catchy melody and festive arrangement, drawing comparisons to Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas Is You'.

  7. Behind These Hazel Eyes

    Kelly Clarkson - Behind These Hazel Eyes (VIDEO)

    'Behind These Hazel Eyes' is a powerful pop-rock ballad from her 2004 album Breakaway. Co-written by Clarkson, Max Martin, and Dr Luke, the song explores themes of heartbreak and resilience, reflecting Clarkson's personal struggles during a difficult breakup.

    It is said to be a true song about Kelly Clarkson's ex-boyfriend, who broke up with her and got married a month later. The tears she cries are behind her 'hazel eyes' so the ex can't see them, and thus she won't give him the satisfaction.

    Released in 2005, it became a commercial success, peaking at number six on the Billboard Hot 100.

    The song's music video, directed by Joseph Kahn, depicts Clarkson as a bride grappling with the pain of betrayal.

  8. My Life Would Suck Without You

    Kelly Clarkson - My Life Would Suck Without You

    'My Life Would Suck Without You' was released in 2009, and is an energetic pop-rock track that became an instant hit. The lead single from her fourth studio album, All I Ever Wanted, it marked a triumphant return to Clarkson's signature upbeat style.

    It made history by achieving the largest leap to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, soaring from 97th to the top spot in a single week.

    The lyrics celebrate the ups and downs of a tumultuous relationship. The music video reflects this theme with playful and humorous scenes of a couple's routine.

  9. Since U Been Gone

    Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone (VIDEO)

    'Since U Been Gone', from Kelly's second album Breakaway, is a defining pop-rock anthem that catapulted her to international stardom. Released in 2004, the song was crafted by Max Martin and Dr Luke, who initially intended it for Pink and later offered it to Hilary Duff, both of whom passed on it.

    Clarkson's powerful vocals and the track's infectious energy struck a chord with listeners, leading it to become a massive hit.

    The song's success was pivotal in transforming Clarkson's image from pop idol to rock-influenced pop star. It topped the Billboard Pop 100 and reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, while also earning Clarkson a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

    The accompanying music video, featuring Clarkson trashing an ex-lover's apartment, became iconic. 'Since U Been Gone' is still celebrated for its explosive chorus and relatable theme of post-breakup empowerment.

  10. Because of You

    Kelly Clarkson - Because Of You (VIDEO)

    'Because of You' is a poignant ballad from Kelly's second studio album, Breakaway.

    Co-written by Kelly, the song was inspired by her tumultuous family life and personal experiences, reflecting deep emotional pain.

    Released in 2005, it became one of her most successful singles, reaching the top ten in numerous countries and earning multiple award nominations.

    The music video, directed by Vadim Perelman, powerfully depicts a family unravelling, mirroring Clarkson's own childhood struggles. She initially wrote the song at 16, and it was only after she gained more creative control that it was included in her album.

    She later said: "My biggest song worldwide is 'Because of You', and … you may as well grab a knife. That song really is the most depressing one I've ever written. I tried to get it on Thankful, and was laughed at and told I wasn't a good writer.

    "So then I tried to get it on Breakaway – and the label saw the results, people responding to it, and allowed it to become a single. Then took credit for its success, of course."