It may have taken some time, but Kelly Clarkson seems to finally be releasing an album without any drama on the side.
“Everything is good, everything is happy,” she said, laughing brightly during a recent interview to promote Stronger, which was released this week.
It’s a different scenario than her last two albums: She went through public disputes with legendary executive and mogul Clive Davis over her third album and with OneRepublic singer-songwriter Ryan Tedder after her last album was released.
They were typical of the bold stances she’s taken that proved her to be more than the passive, malleable product of a hit TV competition, establishing her as an artist instead of just a voice.
“I’ve been a fighter since I started walking,” she said, adding casually and genuinely a line that could be lifted from one of her inspirational songs: “We get one life. You want to make sure that you’re living it how you want to live it.”
Since Clarkson became the first American Idol a decade ago, she’s established herself as one of pop’s most formidable, and successful singers. She’s sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and landed seven singles in the Billboard Hot 100 top 10, including Breakaway, My Life Would Suck Without You, Miss Independent, and perhaps her biggest hit, Since U Been Gone.
Clarkson has maintained creative control of her music and career since her Idol days, and has written on all of her albums. But her determination to chart her own course has not come without a few battles. In 2007, Davis became concerned over the less commercial sound of Clarkson’s third album, My December, which Clarkson revealed publicly after rumours of a rift; Clarkson later mended fences and called the tension overblown. Then in 2009, Clarkson called out Tedder for musical similarities between Already Gone, which he wrote for Clarkson, and Beyoncé’s Halo, which he also wrote.
Clarkson calls her new collection of 13 songs “the easiest record that I’ve made with my label.” But she makes clear that’s because the suits bent to her will — not the other way around.
“I think people project on you like the formula that has worked in the past. And then they get to know you,” she said. “(Now) they know me better as an artist, they know me better as a person. They know what I’m going to do and what I don’t like, and it just really works.”