Original Idol Kelly Clarkson played a free, fans-only club gig at L.A.'s 500-capacity Troubadour Wednesday night to promote her upcoming fifth album, Stronger
, out next week. But one of the special show's highlights actually wasn't
a song off the album, or even a Kelly song at all, but a cover of a ballad by the other biggest Idol in the game, Carrie Underwood.
Kelly explained to the elated audience that she was inspired to cover Carrie's Carnival Ride cut "I Know You Won't" after hearing Carrie sing it at last month's IHeartRadio festival in Vegas (where both Idols performed). "I thought, 'Isn't that song so pretty?" she recalled. Kelly then invited a cellist onto the Troubadour stage for the acoustic Carrie cover, and even seemed a little nervous. "I need a swig of water, hold on," she said. "I don't want to mess this up! I like this song!"
Well, of course Kelly didn't mess it up. Since when has she ever messed up any song? Her rendition was in fact so stunning, it'll probably spark "Who Sang It Best?" Kelly vs. Carrie debates across the Interweb for months to come.
Kelly stuck to her own material for the rest of her concert, including four classic-Clarkson love-gone-wrong anthems from Stronger
. And judging from how nearly all 500 Troubadour spectators (among them Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton) seemed to know all the words to the new tracks, her recent notorious album leaks sure have made the rounds. "Apparently they've all
been leaked," Kelly laughed in her typical aw-shucks, good-natured manner, as she hit the stage in a Clarkson-esque high/low mix of glitzy silver motorcycle jacket and bare feet. "I'm in love with my album, but I
don't have a copy yet!"
Kicking off her show with the awesomely infectious new tune "Dark Side" (during which the audience shouted yes to the chorus's musical and rhetorical question, "Do you love me?"), Kelly kept up the energy throughout her 12-song set. Shedding her aforementioned metallic jacket three songs in and cooling off in front of her electric "Beyonce fan," she laughed, "It's HOT! I'm gonna look all sweaty!"
Other new tunes included Stronger
's first single, "Mr. Know It All"; the propulsive probable second single/surefire smash "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)"; and "You Love Me," one of her favorite tracks about how "some people get confused about what love means." During the latter song, when she executed a little Beyonce booty-dance for the line "you can't handle this," the audience whooped it up and cheered her on. "These songs are a helluva cardio workout!" Kelly laughed.
But there were mellow moments as well, like the kumbaya-style crowd singalong to an acoustic "Breakaway," or when Kelly sang the rarely performed, dark and brooding "Sober," a song selected for the setlist by fan votes. (She ironically performed this tune after toasting her fans with vodka.) "Thank you for picking the My December song!" Kelly gushed, referring to her "difficult" and very underrated third album, and her supportive fans whooped and cheered again.
And of course, Kelly's voice sound A-MA-ZING throughout, on every song. "American Idol" could go on for another 10 seasons and probably never find another winner "stronger" than Kelly. It's possible that not even the almighty Carrie can compare.
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