Every Kelly Clarkson Song, Ranked From Worst To Best

There’s no question that our iPods would suck without you, lil’ Miss Independent. I listened to and read the lyrics of every original song to appear on an official CD (including hidden and bonus tracks) in reverse order to determine Kellegendary’s biggest audio achievement.

77. “Einstein”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Kelly Clarkson, Toby Gad, Bridget Kelly, and James Fauntleroy II
Mathematic equations in musical compositions rarely make the grade, and “You Plus You Equals Dumb” gets an “F” in my book.

76. “Where Is Your Heart”

Album: Breakaway
Written By: Kelly Clarkson, Kara DioGuradi, and Chantal Kreviazuk
Kelly almost always sings about lost love, but this is one of the rare times the song makes her sound overly needy. Maybe that’s because a random selection of lyrics would read like a stalker letter.

75. “Don’t Be a Girl About It”

Album: Deluxe Edition, Stronger
Written By: Kelly Clarkson and Brent Kutzle
Kelly has built her career on the backs of women the world over, so to speak of the gender in such stereotypically disparaging terms seems shortsighted.

74. “Before Your Love”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Desmond Child and Cathy Dennis
One of two victory singles released after Kelly won American Idol and this vastly inferior one oozes cheese. I mean, she sings about castles in the sky, for crying out loud.

73. “Fading”

Album: My December, Japanese Edition
Written By: Clarkson, David Kahne, Malcolm Pardon, and Fredrik Rinman
Simply put, there’s a reason this song was only available in one country.

72. “You Found Me,” “I Hate Myself For Losing You,” and “Hear Me”


Album: Breakaway
Written By: Kara DioGuardi and John Shanks; DioGuardi, Jimmy Harry, and Shep Soloman; Clarkson, DioGuardi, and Clif Magness
I grouped these three tracks together for three reasons: They play in succession, were all co-written by Kara DioGuardi, and share an uncomfortably gloomy outlook on love. “Hate Myself” actually borders on lyrical cutting. Usually Kelly’s able to find a silver lining amid the gray skies, but not here.

71. “Addicted”

Album: Breakaway
Written By: Clarkson, David Hodges, and Ben Moody
The verses are slightly clumsy, but the melody and vocals get under your skin.

70. “Thankful”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Clarkson, Babyface, Harvey Mason, and Damon Thomas
Beautiful but vanilla. Kinda feels like the album was locked and then someone suddenly realized none of the songs included the word “Thankful.”

69. “Yeah”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson, Jimmy Messer, Malcolm Pardon, and Fredrik Rinman
Cool chorus but the rest is awkward phrasing of cliché platitudes.

68. “Beautiful Disaster”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Rebekah Jordan and Matthew Wilder
To everyone who has ever fallen for the wrong person, this is your anthem…whether you like it or not.

67. “Hole”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson, Jimmy Messer, and Dwight Baker
I absolutely adore this oft-criticized album (which will become very apparent as this list continues), but it’s hard to get behind this pitch black composition. I mean, there’s depressing songs and then there’s “Hole,” which, at times, almost reads like a suicide note.

66. “I Forgive You”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Rodney Jerkins, Andre Lindal, and Lauren Christy
I forgive you for this empty, throwaway song, Kelly.

65. “The Day We Fell Apart”

Album: Deluxe Edition, All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, Dre & Vidal, Harry Zelnick, and Alexander Chiger
Never quite lives up to its potential to be a stunning ballad because of a stifling arrangement.

64. “Just Missed The Train”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Danielle Brisebois, Scott Cutler
Kelly’s vocal acrobatics save this otherwise forgettable song.

63. “Gone”

Album: Breakaway
Written By: Kara DioGuardi and John Shanks
Spirited dedication to those exes who seem to be lying in wait for you to finally move on so they can attempt to re-enter your life.

62. “Not Today”

Album: iTunes Bonus Edition, My December
Written By: Clarkson, Jimmy Messer, and David Kahne
The last song on the extended version of the album. If you make it to this point, “Not Today” is a lovely reward.

61. “One Minute”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson, Kara DioGuardi, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Raine Maida
About vacillating between the various stages of grief, which is a great metaphor for this song as it hits highs and lows — often within the same verse.

60. “Standing in Front of You”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Clarkson and Aben Eubanks
Beautiful orchestration almost masks less-than-developed lyrics. Gets major bonus points for that stunning final verse, however.

59. “4 Carats”

Album: Wrapped In Red
Written By: Clarkson, Greg Kurstin, Cathy Dennis, and Livvi Franc.
The message is a little uncharacteristically materialistic for our girl, so the endeavor feels a wee bit disingenuous. But, damn if the song isn’t catchy as all-get-out.

58. “Long Shot”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Katy Perry, Glen Ballard, and Matt Thiessen
The rhymiest song in Kelly’s catalog — or, perhaps, anyone’s.

57. “What’s Up Lonely”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Evan Rogers, Stephanie Saraco, and Carl Struken
An R&B throwback that feels more dated than inspired by Motown, despite Kelly’s groovy vocals.

56. “Hello”

Album: Stronger
Written: Clarkson, Josh Abraham, Oliver Goldstein, and Bonnie McKee
A catchy chorus more than makes up for the meandering verses.

55. “Ready”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Clarkson, Jason Halbert, and Aben Eubanks
Kelly’s dedication to the message of this frothy delight grounds the fanciful endeavor.

54. “Alone”

Album: Deluxe Edition, Stronger
Written By: Josh Abraham, Oliver Goldstein, Bonnie McKee, and Ryan Williams
The guy at the center of this tune can’t be bothered to pay Kelly any mind, but she’s got my attention from the time this vibrant track starts.

53. “Dirty Little Secret”

Album: iTunes Edition, My December
Written By: Clarkson and Jimmy Messer
Sounds like the musical lovechild of Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow, which is as huge a compliment as a song is likely to get.

52. “Can We Go Back”

Album: iTunes pre-order & Japanese bonus track on All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Shanna Crooks, Andrew Creighton Dodd, and Adam Watts
Lyrics lack the desperation the title implies, but Kelly serves enough emotion to back up the titular plea.

51. “I Want You”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Clarkson and Joakim Ahlund
’60s-infused pop perfection. Super sugary but oh-so delicious.

50. Walk Away

Album: Breakaway
Written By: Clarkson, Kara DioGuardi, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Raine Maida
Brilliant beat, excellent energy, and gets the ole head bobbing straight outta the gate. But, if you look at the lyrics, it’s pretty confusing to deduce who is doing the walking, and who they’re walking away from…

49. “Can I Have A Kiss”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson, Jimmy Messer, and Dwight Baker
You’d be hard pressed to find a man — or woman — who wouldn’t want to fulfill Kelly’s request, given the loveliness of her ask.

48. “Low”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Jimmy Harry
The most successful Kelly Clarkson songs have the listener saying “Yep!” to every problem posed. “Low” does that in spades.

47. “Don’t Waste Your Time”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson, Jimmy Messer, Malcolm Pardon, and Fredrik Rinman
This track offers some much-needed lightness within the context of My December and is equally enjoyable as a stand-alone.

46. “Don’t Rush”

Album: Greatest Hits — Chapter One
Written By: Blu Sanders, Natalie Hemby, and Lindsay Chapman
Along with “Don’t You Wanna Stay” (which couldn’t be included as it first appeared on Jason Aldean’s My Kinda Party), “Don’t Rush” proves Kelly can successfully straddle both the country and pop worlds. Although I personally prefer her contributions to the latter.

45. “Be Still”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson and Aben Eubanks
Stillness permeates Kelly’s vocals on this endlessly intoxicating ballad.

44. “You Can’t Win”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Clarkson, Josh Abraham, Oliver Goldstein, and Felix Bloxsom
This musical reply to every critic who told Kelly she was “too this” or “not enough that” is an excellent idea with stellar composition. But it’s lacking some sort of mental or emotional resolution in the final verse. As is, we’re left feeling like the title is the unavoidable conclusion. Although maybe that’s the point…

43. “Whyyawannabringmedown”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, and Dameon Aranda
Kelly’s take on ’60s punk. The space-free title makes sense given the breakneck pace with which the song powers through.

42. “Breaking Your Own Heart”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Jennifer Hanson and Michael Logen
Kelly posits that we can be our own worst enemy, and ends up being the best friend we all hope to have while doling out harsh truths.

41. “Anytime”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Louis Biancaniello and Sam Watters
Sounds expertly crafted for a rom-com. Oh, what’s that? It lived a second life on the From Justin to Kelly soundtrack? There you have it.

40. “Impossible”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Clarkson and Ryan Tedder
Individually, I adore every element: The piano, arrangement, vocal, and chorus are on point. But for some reason the whole of the song isn’t as good as the sum of its parts.

39. “How I Feel”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson, Jimmy Messer, and Dwight Baker
Dozens of songs share this title, but Kelly captures my heart and soul in a way Chris Brown and Flo Rida never could.

38. “People Like Us”

Album: Greatest Hits — Chapter One
Written By: Meghan Kabir, James Michael, and Blair Daly
You know those weird quirks that make you feel like an isolated freak? Well, Kelly creates an incredibly inviting community for those unique souls with this energetic anthem.

37. “Tip of My Tongue”

Album: Deluxe Edition, All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Clarkson, Ryan Tedder
Historically, “bonus tracks” have the reputation of not being good enough to warrant inclusion on the official album but that could not be further from the truth with this stompin’ smash.

36. “Behind These Hazel Eyes”

Album: Breakaway
Written By: Clarkson, Max Martin, and Luke Gottwald
While Kelly is gathering the strength not to let an ex see her cry (or whatever metaphorical equivalent you’re applying to your life), she’s giving the world the fortitude to do the same.

35. “You Love Me”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Clarkson, Josh Abraham, and Oliver Goldstein
Anyone who’s told Kelly she’s “na-na-na-not good enough” has clearly never heard her pitch-perfect vocals on this tight track.

34. “Don’t Let Me Stop You”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Andreas Romdhane, Josef Larossi, and Claude Kelly
Just the right amount of Avril Lavigne-iness permeates this “you do you, bro” composition.

33. “Miss Independent”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Rhett Lawrence, and Matt Morris
The single that pretty much cemented Kelly’s status as so much more than a reality-competition victor is still as infectious today as it was 11 years ago.

32. “Honestly”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Tom Shapiro, Robert Marvin, and Catt Gravitt
The only thing more powerful than the gorgeous lyrics is the insane vocal Kelly delivers.

31. “Every Christmas”

Album: Wrapped In Red
Written By: Clarkson and Aben Eubanks
Every artist worth their salt has sung about Christmas at some point in their career, but Kelly accomplishes the seemingly impossible feat of co-writing an original song that feels instantly timeless.

30. “Save You”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, and Dameon Aranda
“I’m not going nowhere” aside, this lyrically stunning tribute to emotional crutches dances around Kelly’s range and my heart.

29. “If I Can’t Have You”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Clarkson and Ryan Tedder
Obsession never sounded more enviable than it does on this track, which is flecked with the best of ’80s pop.

28. “Chivas”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson and Aben Eubanks
Kelly’s ode to booze is less successful than her ode to God (more on that later), but this plucky hidden track deserves to bask in the sunlight.

27. “Catch My Breath”

Album: Greatest Hits — Chapter One
Written By: Clarkson, Jason Halbert, and Eric Olson
An ebullient reminder to always take a moment to celebrate the wonder that is you. Especially when it feels like the world is holding you down.

26. “The War Is Over”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Toby Gad and Livvi Franc
The song is about cleansing, so it feels appropriately fresh and organic.

25. “My Life Would Suck Without You”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Max Martin, Luke Gottwald, and Claude Kelly
At its core, this endlessly infectious song is about two extremely messed up people realizing no one else could possibly love them better and accepting their effed up destiny. But I recommend you just shut off your brain, press play, and JUMP!

24. “The Trouble with Love Is”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Kelly Clarkson, Evan Rogers, and Carl Sturken
The title of this song could double as Kelly’s career motto, but she could do a lot worse than to be forever associated with this beautifully written ballad.

23. “You Thought Wrong”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Clarkson, Babyface, Tamayra Gray, Harvey Mason, Jr., and Damon Thomas
Plays like “The Boy Is Mine” sequel we always wanted but never truly got. Only this time the girls unite to take down the guy! Bonus: Tamayra freakin’ Grey, y’all!

22. “Judas”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson, Jimmy Messer, and Dwight Baker
The high/low-register jumping Kelly executes on this betrayal beauty makes my heart race.

21. “Because of You”

Album: Breakaway
Written By: Clarkson, David Hodges and Ben Moody
Instead of simply singing about her messed up relationships, Kelly takes this opportunity to look at why she has so much trouble with men, and the result is a powerfully poignant examination of the role our parents play in shaping our emotional expectations.

20. “Haunted”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson, Jason Halbert, and Jimmy Messer
The song would succeed solely on the desperation and longing Kelly’s vocals bring to the surface, but the atypical (for her) production values really make this song a standout.

19. “Mr. Know-It-All”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Brian Seals, Ester Dean, Brett James, and Dante Jones
The smattering of men Kelly’s dated (or, at least, sung about) coalesce in this retrospective rollicker that proves she can learn from her mistakes.

18. “Let Me Down”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Clarkson and Chris DeStefano
A slick arrangement and relatable message make this one anthem that’s easy to get behind.

17. “I Do Not Hook Up”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Katy Perry, Kara DioGuardi, and Greg Wells
Kelly smartly uses a fast-paced beat to say “slow and steady wins the race.” And the hook is one of her most catchy ever.

16. “Dark Side”

Album: Stronger
Written By: busbee and Alex G.
Kelly’s music is always at its most inspiring when espousing this kind of advice. Her gorgeous pipes instruct fans the world over to recognize that their flaws are what make them special, and somewhere out there is a man/woman who will love them for them, not in spite of them.

15. “Never Again”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson and Jimmy Messer
Kelly turns her tears to daggers for this killer kiss-off that perfectly pairs her raging vocals with an appropriately angry arrangement. If any contemporary track deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know,” it’s this one.

14. “A Moment Like This”

Album: Thankful
Written By: Jorgen Elofsson and John Reid
Kelly’s official American Idol victory song was simple, elegant, and universally applicable; all of which has contributed to its enduring appeal. The song will forever be associated with the overwhelming moment above, which still brings tears to my eyes.

13. “Maybe”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson, Aben Eubanks, and Jimmy Messer
This gorgeously emotional saga flows brilliantly from beat to beat and heart to heart.

12. “Cry”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Kelly Clarkson, Jason Halbert, and Mark Townsend
Of Kelly’s two songs dedicated to masking the emotions of a breakup, “Cry” succeeds where “Behind These Hazel Eyes” fails by creating a lyrical experience that truly evokes emotion.

11. “Wrapped in Red”

Album: Wrapped in Red
Written By: Clarkson, Ashley Arrison, Aben Eubanks, and Shane McAnally
Kelly’s voice flies higher than Santa’s sleigh on the magical melody that buoys this gorgeous creation.

10. “Breakaway”

Album: Breakaway
Written By: Matthew Gerrard, Bridget Benenate, and Avril Lavigne
One of Kelly’s most emotionally uplifting songs, and one of the rare offerings that could actually pass The Bechdel Test.

9. “The Sun Will Rise”

Album: Deluxe Edition, Stronger
Written By: Kyle Jacobs and Danelle Leverett
When a breakup tears you down, Kelly’s there to build you back up — and she’s bringing along all the high notes.

8. “Winter Dreams (Brandon’s Song)”

Album: Wrapped in Red
Written By: Clarkson, Ashley Arrison, and Aben Eubanks
Fans were rightly worried that love would dull Kelly’s edge. But the first song expressly written as a love letter to a man proved our fears unfounded as the track evokes so much genuine emotion, it makes you long to fall in love.

7. “Irvine”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson and Aben Eubanks
The first time I learned Kelly co-wrote a ballad to God, I cringed. There were just so many ways that could go wrong. But the unfiltered gorgeousness of this haunting track absolutely blew me away. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more lyrically raw or relatable song in her entire arsenal.

6. “All I Ever Wanted”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Sam Watters, Louis Biancaniello, and Dameon Aranda
The rare title track to truly bring the heat. Its message cuts deep and the chorus ricochets around your brain with a blazing intensity.

5. “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)”

Album: Stronger
Written By: Jorgen Elofsson, Ali Tamposi, David Gamson, and Greg Kurstin
As she matured, Kelly confidently embraced songs that told her massive fan base, “You know what, it’s OK to be single. Learn from that experience and blossom into a more wonderful version of yourself.” This is the pinnacle of that perspective, and the crowdsourced music video is the perfect companion.

4. “Underneath the Tree”

Album: Wrapped in Red
Written By: Clarkson and Greg Kurstin
In short, a new holiday classic. Of the four original songs on Wrapped in Red, all of which are splendid, by the way, this is the one that will undoubtedly join Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” in heavy radio rotation the instant Thanksgiving ends. And that’s a reality worth passing up a second serving of stuffing to expedite.

3. “Already Gone”

Album: All I Ever Wanted
Written By: Clarkson and Ryan Tedder
The most purely beautiful ballad Kelly’s ever released is made exponentially more exciting because it’s not a subject matter she’s sung about 1 million times before. The relaxed composition allows us to crawl around the nooks and crannies of her voice, giving each one of her perfect pipes a moment to shine.

2. “Since U Been Gone”

Album: Breakaway
Written By: Max Martin and Luke Gottwald
That now-iconic guitar riff sets the stage for Kelly’s most infectious anthem ever, but what truly makes this Grammy winning track (for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance) soar is the inspired juxtaposition of the low-energy verses and the sky-high choruses.

1. “Sober”

Album: My December
Written By: Clarkson, Jimmy Messer, Malcolm Pardon, and Fredrik Rinman
“Picked all my weeds but kept the flowers.” Those eight words inspired Kelly to write my absolute favorite favorite song of hers. Framed around expunging the bad influences (aka “weeds”) from one’s life, the arrangement is aggressively simple, allowing the lyrics and Kelly’s voice to take center stage. It slowly builds to the most marvelous crescendo in the final chorus that gives me chills every single time.

Since You’ve Been Gone: Crushed by the enormity of ranking more than 70 Kelly Clarkson songs, two were mistakenly omitted. They’ve been added in to the list at number 64 and 9.

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