Kelly Clarkson celebrates her 31st birthday today. The chart-topping songstress has been on the scene for quite awhile now, churning out hits since her American Idol victory way back in 2002. But despite her staying power as a relevant pop icon, Kelly Clarkson is largely underrated. More often then not, Kelly did it first, and usually did it better, whatever “it” may be. Yet she is overshadowed by those celebs that follow in her footsteps. Sure, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that the media gives her less attention, but when they do it’s been for harsh commentary on her weight or other so-called news, rather than the inspiring example she provides or music she produces. I mean, let’s be real: Kelly is basically the Mr. Miyagi of female pop stars. She shows ‘em how it’s done, and then bows out of the spotlight. But today is your day, Kelly. So in honor of Miss Independent herself, I bring your attention to some prime instances in which the lady has full bragging rights.
Kelly Clarkson had a teeny-bopper movie musical before they were cool.
Years before Zac Efron reached puberty, Kelly Clarkson made her big screen debut in the kitschy-but-adorable movie movie musical From Justin to Kelly. Alongside the curly afro that was her American Idol runner-up, Justin Guarini, Kelly bopped around in a Spring Break rom-com sweet enough to leave cavities. Okay, we’re not talking Oscar-worthy performances here, but let’s give credit where credit is due. Kelly made movie musicals relevant for a new generation and paved the way for the over-hyped Disney franchise of High School Musical. And for a Spring Break flick, it was certainly more satisfying than the recent WTF-experience of the James Franco creepshow, Spring Breakers. But suddenly, in 2006, Troy and Gabriella were the best thing since Britney Spears (which was saying a lot back then – RIP young Britney). Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron may as well have been the only actors to sing and dance in a movie EVER based on the public reception of their musical puppy love. But never fear, Kelly, I shalln’t forget you. You had dibs, we both know it. At least you learned to stick to the music biz; Vanessa Hudgens hasn’t quite grasped that (re: aforementioned James Franco film).
Kelly Clarkson owned the angsty girl-power anthems long before T-Swift.
Sorry to break it to ya, Taylor Swift, but you’re a little late to this party. Kelly Clarkson had the wistful heartbreak and feisty girl power anthems on lock way before the teardrops fell on your guitar. She has produced hit after hit for the past eleven years, and I highly doubt she plans to end that streak anytime soon. Classic ballads like “Because of You” made it okay for me to curl up in the fetal position and cry for 3 minutes and 39 seconds. And there are few things as wonderful as jumping up and down with mah gurlz screaming “Since You Been Gone” (shoutout to my ninth grade boyfriend). These days, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” is my go-to motivational workout tune. Take that, Stairmaster! But in mainstream media, it’s all about Taylor. Her CD releases cause an international frenzy and her love life is a daily topic of breaking news. They put out the same type of music, but Kelly does it with grace. Taylor’s songs become overshadowed by the middle-school-gossip of it all, whereas Kelly doesn’t concern the public with her own experiences behind the lyrics. Respect, Kelly, respect.
Kelly Clarkson sang live at the 2013 Inauguration.
Rememeber that time Kelly Clarkson sang beautifully at the 2013 Inauguration? No? Ah, that’s probably because Queen Beyonce stole the spotlight with her pre-recorded performance of the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Post-Inauguration, I was bummed for two reasons. 1) Beyonce foiled my belief that she is, in fact, a perfect human. 2) Kelly actually DID sing live, and nailed her rendition of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” No wind, nor rain, nor cold could hinder Kelly’s big voice and beautiful vibrato, but when the nation remembers the 2013 performances, they’ll likely only remember Beyonce’s scandalous lip-synching. A true shame. Look, I know she’s Beyonce and all, but let’s just be real and admit that Kelly owned this one. Can’t always run the world, Bey.
Kelly Clarkson is THE American Idol. Duh.
(WENN.com & Sakura/WENN.com)
She did it first. She did it best. Kelly Clarkson is the epitome of the good ol’ American Dream, a small-town Texas gal that became a superstar. Since winning the first season of the reality show back in 2002, Kelly has produced 18 songs in the Billboard ranking of Top 100 Idol songs, including six in the Top 10 alone. On top of that, she has managed to remain relevant across the music industry for over a decade, not an easy feat. Where’s Ruben Studdard? David Archuleta? Bueller? The only Idol winner that even comes close to her success is Carrie Underwood, a star in her own right. Kelly is the best-selling Idol internationally, while Carrie is best-selling in the U.S. Recently, Kelly’s single “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” surpassed Carrie’s “Before He Cheats” as the best-selling Idol single of all time. Boom. Yet of course, Carrie graces more magazine covers and is featured in more media coverage. In reality, I’m not sure Carrie Underwood would have become a star without Miss Clarkson. No one could have predicted that Kelly would have the success she has, and without it, it’s likely American Idol would have floundered. But Kelly – she is the Trista and Ryan Sutter of the American Idol franchise. Despite the numerous lackluster careers of other Idol winners, her superstardom alone is enough to keep hope alive.
So a huge thank you, Kelly, for showing the rest of the world how it’s done. Happy birthday to our Idol. Love, America.