Kelly Clarkson Talks Cowboys, Covers & Country
When Pepsi asked lifelong Cowboys superfan Kelly Clarkson if she'd be interested in writing a song to echo through Cowboys Stadium, she jumped at the chance ... and then used her gut reaction to pen Get Up, a highly infectious new single for the Pepsi & NFL Anthems program (Kid Rock, Ice Cube, Wiz Khalifa and Travie McCoy also recorded new tunes for their favorite teams).
But trusting her gut has been working to Kelly's advantage for over a decade as she's continued to turn lyrics into anthemic mission statements thereby cementing a insanely loyal fan following. This year, we were rewarded like never before as every stop on her Stronger Tour featured Kelly slaying a fan-requested cover -- many of which have gone viral and led to deafening demands for a proper album.
Whether or not that's truly in the cards was just one of the subjects I broached while chatting with Kelly about drawing inspiration from her hometown team, returning to reality TV, her next career move and how being a pothead plays into it.
TheInsider.com: What inspired you to write Get Up?
Kelly Clarkson: I was actually inspired by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders! When my manager called me to say Pepsi & The NFL were getting together to do this project and was I interested in doing a song, I said, "Heck yea!" I'd do anything with The Cowboys! I've been a fan since I was a kid growing up in Texas. What's cool is the verses are very much inspired by a chant the cheerleaders would do, while the chorus is a big ol' Kelly Clarkson chorus. I thought it was right for a project that was all about having fun. Usually my songs either have me angry about something or sad about something or feeling empowered about something – this was specifically written for this project, so it was very different for me, which was so cool.
Insider.com: Football is huge in Texas, so how excited is your family about this partnership?
Kelly: I've now officially made it in my family's eyes [laughs]. I could sing for The Pope, I could travel the world – but singing for The Cowboys is when I've finally made it [laughs]. Look, Texans love themselves some football. I've grown up a Cowboys fan and once you're born Texan, it doesn't go away. My boyfriend and I live in Nashville now, but he grew up where I grew up, and it's like you don't ever let go of that.
Insider.com: Will Get Up be worked into your shows?
Kelly: Oh gosh, yea! I think just because it's an easy song to sing along to. If they end up playing it in stadiums, I want it to be fun, but also easy for fans to sing with. It's very much a tour song as well, so I hope people love it. I'm excited to sing it for everybody.
Insider.com: Speaking of your tour, the cover songs have been a massive success. Did you anticipate people would react this way when you first decided to incorporate them?
Kelly: Not at all. We just always got fans requesting them. Saying, "I'd love if you could cover this," and honestly, I would love that too, but it just was never in the setlist. So we put it into the setlist! It's more work than normal for a tour, but every day we pick from all the songs people have Tweeted and learn it. Sometimes we nail it and other times ... we'll, it was fun [laughs]. I think it's cool because, from the beginning, [fan-involvement] has always been a part of my career, which makes it extra fun. And I can't wait. I'm always very excited about the covers.
Insider.com: Any plans to release a proper covers album?
Kelly: People really want that thing [laughs]. I don't think I'm not open to releasing one, I just haven't really thought about it. I love music so much and love covering all the different genres that I'm just having fun with how we're doing it right now. I don't know what will happen next. We did do the Smokestack Sessions that came out with Stronger – we're releasing another 6 songs as well and we did a lot of the covers people request on tour, so there's that, and we'll probably do it again.
Insider.com: When you look at a song -- be it a cover, an original or something like Get Up -- what are the criteria that go into deciding it's right for you?
Kelly: One of my favorite bands is U2 – I love that they have a sound they're recognized for, but always try new stuff and will release something like Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, which is very bare boned. Same thing with Coldplay. They'll release Mylo Xyloto, but also Green Eyes – I love artists who have a sound but aren't afraid to try a different sound along with it. That's what I try to do with my albums, and also, that's the thing I love about covering songs as well. You get to step out of your sound and try on someone else's to see how it feels. That's how the country stuff came about. I just love music, man – and when The Cowboys came up with this, it was a no-brainer. I wanted this song to be for The Cowboys, but I also wanted people to be able to recognize that I'm a part of it because I'm so proud to be a part of it. It's a very Kelly Clarkson-esque anthem.
Insider.com: Earlier this year you returned to reality TV as a judge on ABC's Duets. You were phenomenal in that capacity. Any plans for season two?
Kelly: I don't know for certain, but I'm pretty sure we were all there to do the one [season]. I didn't realize how much I loved being a part of that whole process of helping develop other artists. I'm having so much fun with Jordan [Meredith] – she's coming on the road with me and then we're going to get her feet wet in the studio. Find out what kind of sound she wants. Same with Jason [Farol]. We're hooking him up with some writers. I love my own career, but the best part of that show for me was figuring out that I could have just as much fun helping other artists make their dreams come true. I know that sounds cheesy but it's true.
Insider.com: Since you loved it so much are you open to joining another reality show?
Kelly: I'll be honest, it took up a whole heckuva lot of my time. I don't mind working with other artists on the side, but a TV show is pretty demanding – and I've done two of them now, so I would know [laughs]. I couldn't make it around the whole world on this tour because of Duets. I'm only doing Australia and Ireland and England because the TV thing took up so much time. I don't know if I'm willing to sacrifice Asia and South America and all the other place I love to tour to do a TV [show]. I just don't know if that's worth it. You said you're a fan, so you know that about me. I don't know if I'm willing to give that up. But I do thoroughly enjoy helping other artists out, so I kind of feel like God put me in that situation to open my eyes to that.
Insider.com: Well, if a longterm reality show gig isn't in the cards, how about a guest spot on your buddy Reba McEntire's new ABC sitcom, Malibu Country?
Kelly: [laughs] I told her I want to come on! Her mother (played by Lily Tomlin) in it is this pothead hippie and I want to play a pothead hippie character with her! That would be so much fun! I love the show, it's super funny and Reba was excited about that idea. Plus, she's a huge Cowboys fan too, so she's just as excited that I'm a part of Get Up as I am!
To download Kelly Clarkson's Get Up -- as well as other Pepsi NFL Anthems from Kid Rock, Ice Cube, Wiz Khalifa and Travie McCoy -- click here!