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Kelly Clarkson’s love for Michelle Obama is already well-documented. And on her new album, she’s taking that admiration one step further with a song inspired by some of the former FLOTUS’ most famous words.
In EW’s new cover story about her upcoming soul album, Meaning of Life (out Oct. 27), Clarkson reveals that she wrote the song “Go High” after hearing Obama’s “When they go low, we go high” speech from the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
“When Michelle said that I was like, ‘That is the perfect idea for this song!'” Clarkson says. “Everyone relates to that. No one has gone through life without relating to at some point having to take the high road.”
The message also hit particularly close to home for Clarkson and her husband,Brandon Blackstock. “Even with our daughter [Savannah, 16], we just had this conversation in the car, someone was being cruel to her on social media — silly stupid teenage stuff and being just horrible behind the scenes,” Clarkson explains. “It was one of those moments where you’re like, ‘That’s going to continue to happen. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are s—ty people out there, unhappy people trying to bring you down because they’re not happy. You’ve just got to take the high road. I know that sucks — no one wants to hear that, you totally want to punch them in the face. But at the end of the day, you doing that is just exerting your energy. They’re not going to care either way.'”
Clarkson co-wrote “Go High” — a contemporary-souring cut that features a booming breakdown with chopped-up vocals — with longtime collaborator Jesse Shatkin and Mozella (who co-wrote “Take You High” from 2015’s Piece by Piece along with Clarkson’s new single, “Love So Soft”).
“Unlovely people do unlovely things — it’s that lesson,” Clarkson says of the track. “It’s very easy to be just as ugly or unlovely, but it’s harder to aim higher. The song is basically a one-on-one: ‘Just so you know, this is the struggle bus I’m on. This is what I go through on a daily with you around me.'”
Clarkson knows a thing or two about taking the high road — elsewhere in the cover story, she explains her viral response to a body-shaming Twitter troll who called her fat this past summer. “I don’t spend all my time calling people out, because it’d be a 24/7 f—ing job,” she says. “Your comment doesn’t bother me, but it might impact other people. I need you to know words are powerful and have weight and gravity to them. So that’s why I do it — but I also love being a smart ass.”