By now, Kelly Clarkson is known for her hit singles: Big-chorused anthems about love gone wrong are her speciality, but she’s also had her heart-wrenching ballads and relatable mid tempos. Everything from “Since U Been Gone” and “Because Of You” to “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and “Already Gone” have gone down as memorable hits, and her album tracks are just as good.
But what about the dozens of songs that don’t make the albums? With such strong collections of songs on each album, it’s no surprise that the leftovers are just as good. Some of these forgotten gems were part of Kelly’s tours: She performed more than a couple brand new songs in front of thousands of adoring fans, and sometimes those new tunes made it onto the next album. (For example, “Maybe” and “Yeah.”) Sometimes some overexcited fans get their hands on unheard demos and leak them onto the internet.
While most of these songs – mainly the leaks – weren’t meant to be heard, they’re out there now, and a lot of them are really good. In fact, a lot of them are even better than the songs that did make the albums. We’ve listened to them all (and there are at least a hundred of them!), and here are 20 of the best unreleased Kelly Clarkson songs:
20. “Tell Me A Lie” – From spring to fall 2010, dozens of Kelly Clarkson demos leaked onto the internet. It seemed like every day there was a new song to (illegally) download, and they spanned from all eras. It seemed the leaks had finally stopped in October 2010, but then, 6 months later, it started up again. “Tell Me A Lie” was the first of the second wave of leaks. This fun pop song appeared in May 2011, and sounded like a good breakup song that could fit in on her upcoming 5th album (Stronger). Kelly wrote it with Shep Solomon and Tom Meredith. In the end, Kelly didn’t use “Tell Me A Lie” – instead, boy band One Direction recorded it for their debut album, Up All Night. We still prefer Kelly’s version.
19. “Lost” – This slower tune about replaying memories was part of the 2010 leaks. “Lost” was one of the later songs that leaked that year, and not much is known about it. In a recent Minute + a Glass of Wine webisode, Kelly actually confirmed that she co-wrote the song. However, it’s still unclear when it was recorded – some think it was for an earlier album that would have come after 2007’s My December, while others think it was a newer song. Either way, it is a lovely, soft song.
18. “All I Know” (Live) – Kelly only performed this song once, during her concert in San Jose on May 24, 2005 as part of the Breakaway World Tour. It was an intimate performance, with just Kelly and her guitarist Danny Weissfeld. Fans hoped it would appear on her next album, My December, but to this day, this live version is the only recording we have. However, it remains a fan favorite.
17. “In These Eyes” – This song goes back to Kelly’s pre-Breakaway days. “In These Eyes” (sometimes written as “Love In These Eyes”) was written by Kelly, Kara DioGuardi, and Clif Magness for her sophomore record, 2004’s Breakaway. These are the same writers behind “Hear Me,” and Kara also worked on songs like “Gone” “Walk Away”. It took 6 years, but “In These Eyes” finally leaked in summer 2010, and now seems to be a bit of a fan favorite.
16. “You Still Won’t Know What It’s Like” (Live) – Kelly first performed this song in December 2010 as part of the Night For Hope charity concert. She wrote it with Jason Halbert, and it was expected to appear on her 5th album, Stronger. Although it didn’t make the cut, Kelly did perform “You Still Won’t Know What It’s Like” throughout her Stronger Tour in early 2012. Here’s her original performance:
15. “Bleed For Me” – This is another song that was meant to go on Breakaway. It was written by Kelly and ex-Evanescence members Ben Moody and Dave Hodges – the same trio that wrote “Because Of You” and “Addicted”. The first fans heard of “Bleed For Me” was during a radio interview in 2005, in which Kelly sang some of the lyrics of the song. It wasn’t until 5 years later that fans got to hear the whole song. “Bleed Like Me” finally leaked in summer 2010.
14. “Anymore” (Live) – Towards the end of the Breakaway era, Kelly was eager for fans to hear some of her new material. Throughout her Addicted Tour in summer 2006, Kelly performed 3 new songs she planned to include on her next album: “Maybe,” “Yeah,” and “Anymore.” The former two appeared on My December the following year, but “Anymore” was left behind as a live-only memory. Despite its exclusion, “Anymore” is a fantastic and dark song with plenty of guitars and rage. We would love to have a studio version of this song some day! While we wait for that, here’s a performance from Mansfield, MA on July 16, 2006:
13. “So Far Apart” – There have been murmurings of “So Far Apart” being inspired by a poem written by country superstar (and now Kelly’s mother in law) Reba McEntire, but Kelly has never spoken about it. “So Far Apart” was written by Kelly and her two longtime backup singers, Jill Pickering and Kate Rapier. They performed it live at a pre-show in New Orleans on December 13, 2009. The demo version then leaked online in October 2010. This is one of the last songs from the summer 2010 leaks, and to this day little is known about this sweet, but too short, song.
12. “Between The Lines” (Live) – This is Kelly being sassy for sure. “Between The Lines” is another song Kelly wrote with her backup singers, Jill Pickering and Kate Rapier. They performed it at a pre-show in Detroit on October 25, 2009. The lyrics sound like they could be directed at her record label – Kelly had been having some disagreements with them for a few years, and it was well known that she wasn’t happy. “You Love Me,” on 2011’s Stronger, had a similar message. We don’t know too much about “Between The Lines,” but it sure is a fun song.
11. “Call Me” – Kelly wrote “Call Me” with Cory Churko, and Kelly performed it at a pre-show in Columbus on December 10, 2009. It later leaked in October 2010, and this demo version is even better. This is the kind of ballad that has an explosive chorus and makes the listener feel exactly what the character is going through. Some speculate that “Call Me” may have been intended for a rumored country album in 2008, but nothing was ever confirmed. Either way, it’s a great ballad.
10. “Get Away” – Not just one, but TWO demo versions of this uptempo song exist for eager fans to hear. This was supposedly written for Breakaway, but was excluded due other songs like “Walk Away” and the title track having enough “away”s for one record. However, Kelly co-wrote “Get Away” with Jason Halbert and Jimmy Messer. None of this trio’s collaborations appeared on an album until My December. Nonetheless, finally in summer 2011, two different versions of “Get Away” leaked, and both are spectacular. Here’s the 2nd version, which we like just a little bit more than the first version:
9. “Wash, Rinse, Repeat” – Kelly’s probably never been angrier about her own music than when the whole “Already Gone” / “Halo” fiasco happened in 2009 thanks to Ryan Tedder. (If you’re unfamiliar with the story, read about it here.) So of course she wrote a song about it. The end result was the sarcastic and epic “Wash, Rinse, Repeat,” which ended up leaking in spring 2010, at the beginning of the Summer Of Leaks. It’s not quite the style of music Kelly usually releases, and that was the point. She certainly does make her point, and the song is not bad either. We’d still love to hear an officially released version of this.
8. “I Can’t Lose” – We know almost nothing about “I Can’t Lose,” except that we love it. It leaked in summer 2010, and many fans expected it to appear on Kelly’s upcoming 5th album, Stronger. In the end, while other 2010 leaks like “Don’t Be A Girl About It” and “You Can’t Win” (both great songs) appeared on her album, “I Can’t Lose” was one of those unfortunate gems that was left behind. Luckily, we have this R&B tinged demo to enjoy until it gets the release it deserves.
7. “Ready To Go” – This is one of the most fun and unexpectedly direct songs we’ve ever heard from Kelly. “Ready To Go” leaked in summer 2010 (of course), and we don’t know much about it other than that it samples a well known hit from the ’80s: Howard Jones’ “Things Can Only Get Better.” Kelly’s song borrows that funky tune as well as Howard’s “whoa whoa whoa”s. Though this song is totally different from the Kelly we know and love – and was more than likely written for another artist, like her demo “Cleopatra” was – “Ready To Go” is still a sexy and fun song to turn up.
6. “Poison Candy” (Live) – Here is another song from Kelly, Jill Pickering, and Kate Rapier. She performed it on October 31, 2009 at the exclusive pre-show in St. Charles. This is easily our favorite song from all the 2009 pre-show debuts, and we still hope a studio version will be released some day.
5. “Did You” – This is another song where we have two different demos to enjoy. “Did You” was written by Kelly, David Kahne, Alex Pardon, and Fredrik Rinman. It was expected to appear on Kelly’s 3rd album, My December. One version of “Did You” appeared online in 2009, while a second version leaked in 2011. This is simple yet impassioned song that would have fit perfectly on My December. Here’s the original version we got to hear:
4. “Don’t” (Live) – Here is an oldie but a goodie, and perhaps the first unreleased Kelly song fans ever got to hear. On April 16, 2004, on the last day of her Independent Tour in Saint Paul, Kelly debuted a new song she had written with her guitarist, Danny Weissfeld. As Kelly told the crowd, it “really means something to me,” and she hoped to include “Don’t” on her next album, Breakaway. It didn’t make the cut for the record, but Kelly continued to play “Don’t” during each of the dates of her spring Breakaway World Tour, from March until May 2005. A demo version of “Don’t” later leaked in 2010, but we still find the live version special:
3. “Close Your Eyes” – Kelly wrote “Close Your Eyes” with Aben Eubanks years ago, and it leaked in 2008 along with three other songs. One of them, “Ready,” ended up on her 4th album, 2009’s All I Ever Wanted, but the other three have been left behind. “Close Your Eyes” was always the standout demo here, and one that is touching and a little bit country. We still hope an official version of “Close Your Eyes” will be released one day.
2. “Racehorse” – This is a leftover from My December, and one of the best songs we’ve heard from Kelly. The album’s producer David Kahne said himself that he hoped people would someday be able to hear “Racehorse” and “Too Much” (another song that leaked in 2010), and we agree with his judgement. “Racehorse” was written by Kelly and Jim Messer, and has a unique sound that draws on eastern influences. It may have been too different for a pop singer to release, but it is one of the best songs of Kelly’s career, and hopefully one day it will see a proper release.
1. “Don’t Ever Give Up On Me” – Our favorite Kelly leak is “Don’t Ever Give Up On Me,” and we know, unfortunately, little about it. It leaked in summer 2010, around the same time as the comparable “Standing In Front Of You.” The latter appeared on Stronger, but we still think that “Don’t Ever Give Up On Me” should have been there too. (Instead of, say, “Einstein.”) It’s a ballad that shows another side of Kelly, one that is vulnerable and afraid her faults may lose another’s faith in her. This is one of the best songs Kelly has recorded, and it deserves to see an official release in the future.
And there you have some of the best songs that never appeared on any of Kelly’s albums. Do you agree with our list? Which unreleased Kelly songs would you pick for your “best of” list? While Kelly’s album tracks are great, her live songs and leaked demos are often just as enjoyable, and hopefully one day they’ll be released properly.
- Review: Alicia Keys Offers Best Album in a Decade with ‘ALICIA’ - September 18, 2020
- Review: Sara Bareilles Offers ‘More Love’ in ‘Little Voice’ Concept Album - September 4, 2020
- Hayley Williams Takes Listener on Emotional Journey on ‘Petals For Armor’ - May 8, 2020