What did the world do to deserve Kelly Clarkson? Well, technically, our culture created the perfect environment for a reality show like American Idol to thrive. But on a more existential level, Kelly is just a gift we should appreciate without really questioning it.
This weekend marks the 15th anniversary of her debut album, Thankful, the record that her AI won wrought. The occasion presents an opportunity to reflect — and we mean on more than just how little Ryan Seacrest has aged in a decade-and-a-half. Clarkson has had so many hits (11 that became Billboard top 10 and three that peaked at No. 1, but who’s counting?) that have seen her fans through so many stages of life.
Kelly has been there when no one else was. When we found out our college boyfriend subscribed to the Ross Geller definition of being on a break, “Since U Been Gone” was there. When we had that first big job interview, “Miss Independent” was there. When we didn’t get that job, “Stronger” was there. When we suffered from momentary amnesia and went back to that college boyfriend, “Because of You” was there.
Everybody has a favorite, and it turns out Kelly Clarkson songs are kind of like astrological signs — you can learn a lot about a person by their pick. Find out what your personal fave says about you.
If your favorite song is “A Moment Like This”…
…you’re a big ol’ sentimental sap and don’t ever let anyone razz you for it. Nostalgia is your favorite flavor and your happy memories sustain you through tough times. You’re the person that reboot culture was invented for and your DVR is chock-a-block full of them. And yes, you’re still using a DVR because excuse you if you don’t feel like hunting through Netflix and Hulu and Amazon to find what you’re looking for, thankyouverymuch.
Your friends are always telling you to start living in the present, but honestly, what’s so great about that? They’re called the good ol’ days for a reason. Anyone who doesn’t agree should have a scan through your journals; you’ve got a few Haikus from the early 2010s that beg to differ. As a matter of fact, you’re journaling while you’re listening to “A Moment Like This.” A parting piece of advice: Don’t mistake sensitivity for weakness.
If your favorite song is “Stronger”…
…you’re a dancing machine. Kelly is far more famous for her ballads than her party tunes but this one is about as close to a pump-up jam as they get. Sure, the lyrics aren’t technically the most conducive to a late-Saturday-night situation in the same way of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” but you’re not really listening to the lyrics anyway. You’re screaming them at the top of your lungs while you fist-pump with your BFFs.
There are some DJs — and some drinking establishments — that think a dance floor soundtrack should be made up of the most cutting-edge new releases but those are people — and places — that should be avoided at all costs. You know that nothing bonds a group of friends/co-workers/strangers like a feel-good disco beat bookended with a tequila shot or two.
If your favorite song is “The Trouble With Love Is”…
…you’re just a huge Love, Actually fan.
If your favorite song is “Piece by Piece”…
…you’ve been burned for the last time. You’ve got a take-no-prisoners attitude. You know your worth. Your friends are always asking you where you get your strength and resiliency and your answer is pretty simple: “Kelly Clarkson songs.”
Anyone who’s ever pulled up next to you at a red light has learned that you will sing along to the radio at the top of your lungs and no, you do not care who hears. Your work of choice is SoulCycle, partly because the motivational speech during the second-to-last song (a.k.a. the “connect” song) has moved you to tears more than once and partly because the volume is set at such a deafening roar that your fellow cyclers aren’t bothered by the fact you’ve turned the place into your own personal karaoke lounge.
If your favorite song is “Breakaway”…
…there’s a good chance you attended the 2005 graduation ceremony for Georgia O’Keeffe Middle School. Or, really, any other graduation ceremony in the mid-aughts. (And here’s hoping your choir’s rendition was better than OMS’s.)
But regardless of whether your attachment to “Breakaway” is based on your subconscious grade school memories, it’s clear you have a reverence for home and a deep understanding of how your upbringing made you the person you are today. You gravitate toward entertainment that explores whether you can go home again (spoiler alert: You can). If anybody asks, your favorite movie is The Royal Tenenbaums, but you’ve got a well-worn DVD of Sweet Home Alabama that might dispute that claim.