Kelly Clarkson Helps Teens Realize Pain of Adulthood

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Flipping channels last night, I headed for Fox in search of some rerun Family Guy, and was confronted with the Teen Choice Awards. Normally, nothing could make me hit a button—any button!—on the remote more quickly, but I’m not sure what happened. Maybe I had set the remote down to eat a snack before I realized what I was watching, or maybe I saw David Boreanaz smirking his way through an intro and got flustered, but I suddenly found myself watching a live performance by Kelly Clarkson. The American Idol winner has been in the news lately since her apparent rumbles with Clive Davis over her new album, My December; the singer wrote most of the album herself and Davis didn’t like it, I guess. The single, “Never Again,” has been floating around the Billboard charts for a while, but I’d never actaully heard it, and her performance of it last night illustrated the conundrum perfectly: as the camera cut to an audience of shrieking teens and pre-teens, Clarkson and her band performed a driving, passionate, minor-key rock song. Clarkson reached into the upper registers of her voice to deliver lyrics that laid bare the agony of heartbreak with uncomfortable autobiographical references: “Bet it sucks/To see my face everywhere.” Erp! The chorus avoids an obvious hook and instead just ups the emotional level from “fiery” to “conflagration,” and overall the song is reminiscent of, I dunno, Heart’s “Barracuda” or something. It’s not great, or even that good, really, but her voice was flawless, and the performance was intense and affecting. However, the kids in the audience had looks in their eyes like the Tooth Fairy had just picked up a chain saw. Davis is probably right about the material’s accessibility, but Clarkson may be headed somewhere far more interesting.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate