Top 10 Kelly Clarkson Songs
Picking the top 10 Kelly Clarkson songs is a nearly impossible task. Since she first graced our television screens as the first ever winner of 'American Idol' in 2002, Clarkson has made some of the finest pop music the world has ever seen — with uptempo dance bangers, blistering rock tracks, and wrenching ballads that have topped the charts and earned her a prized spot as one of the industry's leading divas. She possesses what's been called “the best voice in the history of pop music,” and she uses it to spectacular effect. Here's our list of the Top 10 Kelly Clarkson Songs that have made us dance and cry, sometimes simultaneously.
‘Mr. Know It All’
A glistening midtempo that served as the first single from Kelly Clarkson's most recent studio album, 'Stronger,' 'Mr. Know It All' shows Clarkson's more mellow sound. But don't be fooled by those unassuming chords — the chorus is as cunning and clever as anything in her catalog. Reportedly written about the naysayers and critics — in Clarkson's own words, “about ignorant people who think they know everything about someone” — that “You don't know a thing about me” hook makes the track an instant smash, and a worthy addition to the roundup of Kelly Clarkson's top songs.
‘Behind These Hazel Eyes’
The first taste of just how aggressive Clarkson can get, 'Behind These Hazel Eyes' was penned by Clarkson alongside mega-hitmakers Max Martin and Dr. Luke. It's a surefire fan favorite, with a monster chorus and muscular production, and a song so beloved by Clarkson herself that she once considered titling the album after it. “You won't get to see the tears I cry / Behind these hazel eyes,” she sings with unexpected power, which makes us start to get a little misty, too.
A dark and edgy Kelly Clarkson song from an underrated masterpiece of an album ('My December'), 'Never Again' introduced an even angrier side to her, and one that remains one of the most compelling pieces of her public persona. “It's so blunt — I was so angry — and it reads so well, so we just went with it,” Clarkson told MTV about going with the song for a single. The lyrics are deeply embittered and rich with ire: “I hope the ring you gave her turns her finger green,” she sneers, later singing scornfully, “A trophy wife / Oh, how cute.” But the song would be nothing without Clarkson's stunning vocals, which soar with rage over threatening guitars.
Slick and poppy, 'Miss Independent' was Clarkson's big debut after her pair of Idol singles ('A Moment Like This' and 'Before Your Love') put her on the map as a voice to be reckoned with. Originally co-penned by Christina Aguilera for her own album 'Stripped,' the label offered it to Clarkson and she gladly accepted. A rhythmic uptempo with a swaggerific belter of a chorus, this Kelly Clarkson song sees her reflecting on her identity as a grown-and-autonomous woman compromised by love: “What happened to Miss Independent? / No longer need to be defensive / Goodbye, old you, when love is true,” she sings.
‘Because of You’
Kelly Clarkson has always known her way around a good ballad, and she sings the heck out of the heartfelt 'Because of You.' The bones of the track were written by Clarkson herself when she was 16 following her parents' divorce. It's widely known to be a song about her relationship with her father, although the lyrics hit a more universal note, making it a song about disenchantment and growing up. Even with its adolescent roots, it's a refreshingly adult look at lost innocence, and a song Clarkson has said that she's most proud of.
‘My Life Would Suck Without You’
After Clarkson's largely self-penned masterpiece 'My December' underperformed commercially, she needed a big pop single to reclaim her status as a chart-slayer, and 'My Life Would Suck Without You' is just that: An ultra-catchy slice of sugar-sweet pop flawlessness that sounds made for radio. Helmed by her frequent collaborators Dr. Luke and Max Martin, the pop-rock anthem stormed to No. 1 on the Hot 100. The single also marks the total integration of pop, rock, and dance, somehow sounding robust, yet synthy.
Originally penned by Avril Lavigne for her 2002 debut, 'Let Go,' 'Breakaway' was a slow-burning mid-tempo that spent 20 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart and stayed on the Hot 100 for nearly a year. It's not difficult to see why. Floating over strummed guitars and airy drums, Clarkson's lovely vocal buoys the song's inspirational message about pushing through mediocrity and self-doubt: “I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly / I'll do what it takes til I touch the sky / Might make a wish, take a chance, make a change / And breakaway.”
‘What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)’
It's the most recent Kelly Clarkson single, but 'Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)' earns its place here as the culmination of all of the things that make her so lovable. The track is fiery and ferocious, blending disco and rock effortlessly, with a message about independence and overcoming the odds borrowed from (who else?) the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Her vocals are expectedly on-point and the lyrics are as empowering as ever, but it's the production that really slays: big, boisterous and fearless.
It wasn't a big hit — peaking at a dismal No. 93 on the Billboard Pop 100 and failing to reach the Hot 100 at all — but it's one of the tracks most beloved by hardcore Clarkson fans. An incredibly powerful song that Clarkson called her favorite on her magnum opus 'My December,' it features a riveting vocal performance, heartbreaking lyrics, and haunting production that recedes to the background so her incredible voice can shine. An extended metaphor comparing surviving trauma to recovering from alcoholism, Clarkson sings, “Three months and I'm still sober / Picked all my weeds but kept the flowers.”
‘Since U Been Gone’
Not just Kelly Clarkson's best song, but one of the best songs ever. Don't believe us? Ask rock critics at Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and NME, all of whom have hailed it for exactly what it is: Total pop genius. Slickly produced, plinky guitar-pop with a rollicking chorus, 'Since U Been Gone' is Clarkson's defining musical moment, released in 2004 as the second single from 'Breakaway' and introducing Clarkson to a new audience. A bitter kiss-off to an ex who left Clarkson in better shape than he found her — after all, she's “so moving on” — it's the top Kelly Clarkson song, hands-down.