Landmark singing talent competition “American Idol” just completed its 12th season. Of all 12 of the champions, it can be strongly argued that the first champion, Kelly Clarkson, is still the best (though, effective cases can be made for Carrie Underwood and Phillip Phillips).
When Kelly first auditioned for “Idol”, she had a good voice and winning, bubbly personality, but the judges weren’t exactly overwhelmed with her. Fortunately, they did recognize that there was solid enough talent to send her to the next round and, eventually, make her a finalist. However, she wasn’t viewed as having much of a chance of winning. Any betting person would have put their money on Justin Guarini or Tamyra Gray to win. Indeed, most media coverage of the season was geared that way.
Leave it to Kelly to roll off one powerhouse vocal performance after another, showcasing a range from pop to rock to soul. Through the season, she never once finished in the bottom two (or three), which would have put her at risk for elimination. Then, she scored a big upset over Guarini in the final.
Following Kelly’s “Idol” victory, she launched right into her recording career. She started by releasing the obligatory Idol Champion single, “A Moment Like This”, a generic song that hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 based on the popularity of the show (a phenomenon that would be repeated with future winners, even those whose music careers never amounted to anything, like Taylor Hicks). Kelly’s first standalone single, “Miss Independent”, followed and reached #9 on the Hot 100.
During this time period, Kelly also starred in the atrocious musical film “From Justin to Kelly”, starring her and Idol runner-up, Justin Guarini. Kelly acknowledged that she only performed in this movie because of contractual obligations to Idol producers.
Instead of just coasting on one heavily manufactured pop song after another, Kelly assumed greater creative control over her next album, “Breakaway”. In this album, she was able to blend pop sensibilities with her edgier ‘rocker gurl’ personality. The true standout on this album, and the song that proved Kelly would be a force to be reckoned with for years to come, was her breakup tune, “Since U Been Gone”. Her assertive, rock-powered lyrics about an ended relationship showed her true musical self. Reaching #2 on the Hot 100, it won Kelly her first Grammy Award (she won another for the entire album).
“Breakway” had several other hits, like “Walk Away”, “Because Of You”, “Behind these Hazel Eyes”, and the title track (which was also on the soundtrack for “Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement”). Each of these songs reached at least #12 on the Hot 100.
After a brief hiatus in which she fought with her music label for more control over her musical direction, she released “My December”, a serviceable, yet underwhelming, album that still kept her on the mind of the music-buying public.
2009 saw the next step in the evolution of Kelly as artist with here release of standout songs “My Life Would Suck Without You” (which hit #1) and the orchestral “Already Gone”. This work was quickly followed by her the subsequent album “Stronger”, which continued to showcase her stellar vocal talents, edgy lyrics and incredible staying power. The first single, “Mr. Know It All”, takes the rumor-mongering press to task, and her title track, “Stronger” (which was her third #1 on the Hot 100), stressed the importance of perseverance.
In a true mark of how impressive Kelly’s career has been, she celebrated 10 years in the industry by releasing a “Greatest Hits” album that was legitimately earned (as opposed to the shameless money grabs that some other artists with much less substantial resumes try). In addition to being a collection of her top songs so far, she also released the breathy and sweet “Catch My Breath”, which was inspired changes in her life, like her upcoming marriage.
It’s easy to realize just how big a fan of body art Kelly Clarkson actually is. She has quite a collection of tattoos that she proudly displays, whether it’s in music videos, on the red carpet or in photo shoots.
One of the first ones that was noticeable on Kelly is a cute sunflower on the outside of her left ankle,
In many of her music videos, the strongly religious Clarkson shows off a simple cross design on her right wrist. While it initially stood alone, it has been recently been enhanced with the phrase “Love Them More” alongside.
Kelly has definitely embraced the emerging feminine tattoo trend of cute designs behind the ear. Behind her right ear, she has crescent moon design and, behind her left ear, she has an intricate snowflake.
In a recent interview in People Magazine (http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20559430,00.html), she points out her thirteenth(!) tattoo (obviously I don’t have photos of all of them), which runs along her left rib cage and reads “what doesn’t kill you” in Morse Code. She has it placed close to her heart.
You can continue to track Kelly’s career on her official website: http://www.kellyclarkson.com/us/home
You can also follow her on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/kelly_clarkson