Kelly Clarkson is more than a talented vocalist - she's also a judge on The Voice and the host of her popular daytime talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, which airs on NBC. On the show, Clarkson interviews other singers and celebrities, but she also gets behind the mic herself for a cover song segment she dubs "Kellyoke." Since the show's conception in 2019, Clarkson has put her own spin on a multitude of songs from different genres and artists, and here are just a few of her best covers.
1. Patty Griffin's "Up To The Mountain (MLK Song)"
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. day this past January, Clarkson covered Patty Griffin's "Up To The Mountain (MLK Song)," which was inspired by the civil rights leader's famous "I've Been Up to the Mountaintop" speech, given the day before he died in 1968. Clarkson's Kellyoke cover of the song is especially poignant, as video clips of MLK giving the impassioned speech are shown throughout the song. While Griffin's performance of the song is second to none, Clarkson gives an immaculate rendition, capturing the meaning of the song and honoring the civil rights hero.
In October 2020, Clarkson put her spin on "I'm Sorry," a song by longtime friend and fellow The Voice coach, Blake Shelton. Both Shelton and Clarkson have unique and impressive voices, so the song provided Clarkson with the perfect canvas to lend her big voice. In the song, Shelton tells an ex-lover that it's too late for her to say 'I'm Sorry,' although he himself is heartbroken by that fact. Kelly Clarkson's cover of the song perfectly encapsulates the emotion, as she belts out the lyrics while looking straight ahead towards the stage lights. After she finishes the song, she looks back at her band and says, "Whew, I got emotional.'
3. The Civil Wars' "Poison And Wine" (with Brandi Carlile)
During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Clarkson had to shoot parts of her talk show from home, but that didn't diminish the quality of her Kellyoke performances. In fact, doing her Kellyoke from home opened up the opportunity for other artists to duet with her. In an August 2020 Kellyoke video, Grammy-winning artist Brandi Carlile joins Clarkson for an ethereal rendition of The Civil Wars' "Poison And Wine." The two women, who are both abundantly talented, trade vocals on the song, repeating the main phrase, "I don't love you, but I always will." Their intertwining harmonies result in a performance that can only be described as angelic. As they sing, Clarkson's band provides piano and guitar instrumentation from the show's stage.
Clarkson covers many country and folk songs on her Kellyoke segments, but she also performs pop and rock tunes. One of her most dazzling covers of a song from another genre came in the form of Aerosmith's "Cryin,'" which she performed in October 2020. The song is a challenging one vocally as Steven Tyler stretches his voice to unbelievable heights in the original, but as many Clarkson fans already know, there aren't many songs the American Idol alum can't handle. She executes the tune flawlessly, showcasing her versatile voice in a way that would give any singer something to aspire to.
"Tennessee Whiskey" is one of Chris Stapleton's most recognizable songs, and while most singers would struggle to hold their own against the Grammy-winning country artist, Clarkson does just fine. In the cover, performed in September 2020, Clarkson effortlessly tackles the song's challenging runs while stretching her vocal range to its limit to make the song uniquely her own. The only criticism that can be said of the performance is that it leaves the viewer wanting more.
Read More: The 10 Best Chris Stapleton Songs, Ranked
6. Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight"
In March 2020, Clarkson took a journey back to classic country with her performance of Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight." The performance certainly added a new flavor to the country queen's song, as it was peppered with jazzy phrasing, trumpet, and complicated vocal runs by Clarkson. The pre-pandemic performance earned a standing ovation from Clarkson's audience, as she gave all the credit back to her band at the end of the tune.
7. Kacey Musgraves' "Rainbow"
Kacey Musgraves' "Rainbow" from her critically acclaimed album, Golden Hour, is a song that inspires listeners to hold onto hope in tough times. In January of this year, Clarkson performed the tranquil tune for her Kellyoke segment. Sitting on a stool with only piano as accompaniment, Clarkson stayed close to the original version of the song, lending her emotive and classic vocals to the track. She did not add extra runs or riffs, but instead let the simple words and melody speak for themselves.
8. Adele's "Water Under The Bridge"
In one of the latest Kellyoke episodes from March 2021, Clarkson gave a lively performance of Adele's 2016 single, "Water Under The Bridge." The performance finds Clarkson standing in front of her full band as she perfectly executes every note of the catchy pop song. As she often does, Clarkson showcased her large vocal range at the end of the song and ended with applause from a virtual audience.
In 2010, Kelly Clarkson joined Jason Aldean for their powerhouse duet, "Don't You Wanna Stay," and in September 2020, Clarkson took a stab at another Aldean hit, "She's Country," for her Kellyoke cover performance. Clarkson got into full country-rock mode for the virtual performance, as she belted out the lyrics about the perfect country girl. While singing the chorus, Clarkson made the song her own, taking her voice into the next octave for a bit of improvisation. The cover served as another solid performance from the talk show host.
Many Kellyoke videos took place while Clarkson was doing the show from home during the coronavirus pandemic, and her cover of Wille Nelson's "Always On My Mind" from August 2020 is another example of one of these. In this performance, Clarkson takes on the somber Willie Nelson tune, singing from her perspective and exemplifying the emotion of the heartbreak song. As she hits the song's chorus, her voice soars and she adds her own pop-influenced flavor to the song.
Clarkson has covered many other songs for her Kellyoke performances, some of which have since been removed from her YouTube channel, Facebook and website. Other performances include covers of songs from Demi Lovato, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, Justin Bieber, Kings of Leon, Lady Gaga, The Clash and Whitney Houston.