Calling All Kelly Clarkson Country Critics!

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If you are a frequent visitor of this website, you know that the staff here recognizes, appreciates, and, well, flat out loves us some Kelly Clarkson. We have always embraced her as a country music stepchild and, now, country music itself has made it more official and has clearly adopted her into their family. However, it seems that some country music fans out there are struggling with the genre’s “newcomer.” We would love to say we understand the conundrum, but we don’t. Maybe it is because we know Kelly’s relationship with country music isn’t nearly as new as people may believe. In fact, to us, it was only a matter of time before pop-rock, man bashing Kelly turned the corner and embraced her musical roots. So, for all of you nay-sayers out there, we have compiled a Top 10 list to show you just why Kelly Clarkson going country makes perfect sense.

1. Before Kelly even auditioned for Idol, she locked herself in a closet with a tape recorder, aka her “music studio,” and recorded demos to send to record labels in hopes of getting herself a gig. One of those demos was her rendition of “To Make You Feel My Love.” Kelly recorded it around the time Garth Brooks released his own version, which was featured in the film “Hope Floats.”

2. When Kelly won Idol, she was given the opportunity to hit the stage and sing a duet with HER idol, Ms. Reba McEntire. This was six years before the two would hit the road together and tour the United States (and ten years before Kelly practically joined Reba’s family). Even back in 2002, Kelly’s fans knew that, eventually, their girl would go country. Very few can hold their own with Reba, and Kelly didn’t just hold her own — she made us ask Linda Davis who?! (Sorry Hillary [Scott] … no disrespect to your mama!)

3. Starting in 2004, Kelly hit the road on her own tour and it became the norm for her to cover other artists’ songs as part of her set. During her “fair tour” of ’04, Kelly added Reba’s hit “Why Haven’t I Heard From You?” Kelly has covered this song many times on stage — both on her own tour and during television specials. It doesn’t get much more country than this, folk!

4. Back on tour she goes, and back to the covers as well! In 2005, Kelly introduced her fans to an up and coming country group, Rascal Flatts, when she added “I’m Movin’ On” to her set list. She introduced the song by explaining that the lyrics described her life perfectly … and her vocals fit the song perfectly as well.

5. Speaking of Rascal Flatts, the group obviously found something special in Kelly, because they asked her to join them on stage in 2006 to perform their huge hit “What Hurts the Most” at the ACM Awards. If one of the hottest groups in the history of country music can see Kelly’s niche for country music, why can’t you?

6. When do you know you have really made it in music? Easy. When your childhood idol not only performs with you as a favor on stage, but decides several years down the road that a song you wrote (when you were sixteen, mind you) and put on your own album is a song she, too, wants to record. Wait, not only does she want to record your song because it is incredible, but she wants you to lend your vocals to it and make it a duet. That’s right, oh skeptical ones, Reba didn’t let Kelly sing HER song, it is quite the contrary! Are you a believer yet?

7. Ring ring goes the phone, and yet another hot country act asks for Kelly’s involvement in his/her own music. You all might have heard of Jason Aldean, the man who sells out every show, be it in an amphitheatre or stadium. Like Rascal Flatts and Reba, Jason realized the pipes on the little small town Texan and invited her to join him on a song for his album. “Don’t You Wanna Stay?” became a huge hit and is still played on country music stations as if it is brand new to the airwaves. Hmmm … we are now up to three very credible country acts who not only embraced Kelly’s talent, but reeled her in for her involvement in country music. Interesting…

8. Kelly evidently started to realize how much the country community loves having her around, as she decided to remake her own song, the first single off her last album “Stronger,” called “Mr. Know It All.” The track has a smooth vibe on her album with just the right amount of attitude and is far from country sounding … and then it was redone. Enter strings. “Mr. Know It All” took on a whole new life, complete with an acoustic sound and a bit of a twang in the vocals. The track was not only released on iTunes, but worked its way to radio and the Top 40 countdown. Looks like Kelly is starting to break free of her role as country duet girl and make her way toward country soloist, huh?

9. Appropriately, Kelly recently moved to Nashville. Coincidence? We think not. Kelly also wrapped up her latest North American tour in Nashville, where she covered a song in memory of her guitarist, Aben Eubank’s, uncle who recently passed away. What song did Kelly choose? “Go Rest High On That Mountain” by Vince Gill. Call this foreshadowing perhaps, as Kelly covered a Vince Gill song in Music City in front of an audience filled with her fans and musical peers. Number 10 on our list might shine some light on what type of hint Kelly could have been giving us.

10. Vince Gill resurfaces, and this time Kelly isn’t covering him. She’s singing WITH him. Kelly’s latest single, “Don’t Rush,” features Vince Gill during the chorus and has a smooth, jazz vibe coupled with the perfect amount of country to get this girl an invitation to perform (with Vince Gill) at the 46th Annual Country Music Association Awards.

To wrap this up, while we would love to go on and on and continue to explain to all of you who doubt that Kelly belongs in country music just how very misguided you are, we will take a step back and let you watch these ten videos that speak volumes. Need we say more?