With a new album, Stronger, due Oct. 24, and its first single “Mr. Know It All” freshly released just yesterday, Kelly Clarkson is officially ready for her 2011 closeup.
That wasn’t quite the case earlier this summer, when a number of songs—many of them old, written for other artists, and not at all intended for the final tracklist of Stronger—leaked online without her knowledge or permission.
Clarkson recently described the feeling to EW, saying, ““Oh my God, have you ever been robbed? I have. I’ve been physically robbed a couple of times, but this is much worse.”
Thankfully, she’s now got happier things on her mind. Among them? Talking to EW about some of the songs that shaped her as a woman and as an artist.
You can find some of her favorite picks in the issue of EW on stands until this Friday, and read on below to learn even more about the soundtrack of Kelly Clarkson’s life:
The song that made me want to get into music: “Read My Mind” by Reba McEntire
“Growing up, my mom is a single parent; it was just a really hard life. It was really great, but really hard. When I was a kid, for whatever reason, her voice sounded like home. It sounds super cheesy, but it was one of those things that for some reason it was kind of my safe place. I started writing after that and singing in front of people. I have a very hard time communicating sometimes, especially if it’s something to do with relationships, whether it’s friends or boyfriends or whatever. I think that that song was just everything that I’ve ever felt if you like someone.”
The song that reminds me of my first boyfriend: “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden
“My friends are going to laugh when I tell you this. The guy that I was dating knew that I was into music, and his whole thing to get me to like him more. He sang that to me over the phone. I was dying laughing. I was so happy that he did it over the phone and not in person because I am the a–hole that laughed the entire way through it, pulling my hand over the phone so he couldn’t hear me. I was like, “What are you doing?” I’m so not that girl. It just made me feel so uncomfortable. If you’re going to call and sing me a song, sing me [Aerosmith's] ‘Love in an Elevator.'”
Song that reminds me of American Idol: “Stuff Like That There”
“That’s my favorite [performance]. Everyone always asks, ‘How did it feel to win American Idol?’ That moment doesn’t even compare to what it felt like to live the dream of singing that song in front of the people. Ever since I saw For the Boys with Bette Midler, I loved big band music. You don‚t get that now—music is very beat-driven.”
Song that makes me want to turn up the radio: Anything from Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morrisette
“I come from a conservative family. My family was highly conservative; I had to go to church on Sunday and Wednesday. I was not allowed to listen to Alanis Morissette; I did anyway. It was kind of that forbidden fruit for me as a kid. I love Joan Jett, but Alanis took it way past the line of what women talk about in songs, how you sing a song. It was so dirty and raw! It made me a better writer. It made me a better singer. I hate whenever you hear someone who is as vanilla as all get-out singing. I just want to punch them. If you’re going to make me listen to you, at least sell it!”
Song of mine I never want to perform again: “A Moment Like This”
“Here’s the thing: I get it. It was a moment thing for whoever won [American Idol], but that song wasn’t written for me. I loved singing it for the finale. That’s what it was for, but you ain’t going to catch me anytime soon or ever singing that song again. Someone would have to be dying in front of me, saying, ‘My last wish is for you to sing that song!’ for me to sing that song.”
Favorite song off my first four albums: “Walk Away”
“That song is just so sassy!”
My karaoke jam: Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”
“I can’t stand when people get up and do karaoke for real. In fact, it’s highly embarrassing. Let the dream go, it’s not going to happen! This is supposed to be fun. I love doing things people would not expect me to get up in sing. I look hella bad doing i,t by the way. I look like completely ridiculous. There’s a reason I’m single.”
Song I wish I had written “Top of the World” by Patty Griffin
“That song is so fricking awesome. It’s so sad, which is why I like it because I’m weird.”
Favorite country song right now: “Hell on Heels” by Pistol Annies
“There hasn’t been a girl group in country, sounding like that in a while, and I love it. It’s almost like a throwback to the Judds. It’s dirtier, which I like. I like them!”
Song I‚d like to be remembered for: “Because of You”
“I think because I worked so damn hard to get it on an album and just everyone was against it. There was some blood, sweat and tears going on there. I think I’m most proud of that song—just getting it on an album because no one liked it until it hit no. 1 worldwide and everybody was on board.”
More on EW.com:
Kelly Clarkson debuts new single, ‘Mr Know It All': Hear the first song on her upcoming album ‘Stronger’
Beyonce’s pregnancy reveal breaks Twitter record: Why do we care so much?
Miranda Lambert on Blake Shelton: ‘I knew he was married’