Kelly Clarkson's Best 'Kellyoke' Talk Show Covers, Ranked
By Meredith B. Kile
Kelly Clarkson is truly a gift to us all.
The OG American Idol has proven her star power time and time again, but 2019 might have been her best year yet. From her return to The Voice -- where she took over Adam Levine's old chair, as well as his fun frenemy feud with Blake Shelton -- to her impressive hosting turn at the Billboard Music Awards (with a burst appendix!) to the launch of her new daytime talk show,The Kelly Clarkson Show, Kelly is seemingly doing it all.
And now, she's giving us even more, with a new viral cover song every day, courtesy of her show's "Kellyoke" segment. Kelly's fans know all too well how good she is at covering songs from nearly every genre -- she's been doing it in concert for years. But now, thanks to the show, we get a musical moment every single weekday, with Kelly showing off her powerful, versatile vocals on tracks by everyone from Sheryl Crow to Shawn Mendes to Lizzo.
So here's a very non-definitive ranking of Kelly's best covers so far, subject to change based on new releases, my emotions and whatever else we deem important. If you don't like it, make your own!
Honorable Mention: "9 to 5" - Dolly Parton
While not technically a Kelly Clarkson Show cover -- "9 to 5" was prerecorded as a super-cute promo and opening for Kelly's first show -- this classic deserves a spot on the list because, well, it's Dolly. And Kelly.
As someone with a strict "No Christmas Until Thanksgiving Is Over" policy, it takes a lot to get me to embrace the holiday spirit before even Halloween has come and gone. This Oct. 25 cover did it though. The harmonies, those boots, that little slide Kelly does on "every Christmas card I write" -- I am officially holly and jolly and there's nothing I can do about it.
34. "My Favorite Things" - Julie Andrews
Closer to Christmas, Kelly blessed us with more holiday hits, some from her own acclaimed album, Wrapped in Red. A standout was this Sound of Music standard, which the vocal powerhouse polishes to perfection, doing Julie Andrews' legendary original proud.
33. "I Put a Spell on You" - Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Kelly made sure to bless us for Halloween as well, however, recruiting her backup singers to recreate the Sanderson sisters' iconic looks from Hocus Pocus. However, instead of channeling Bette Midler's rendition of "I Put a Spell on You," Kelly threw it all the way back, slowing it down to do growly, full-throated justice to the original Screamin' Jay Hawkins version of the soulful, spooky tune.
32. "Why Haven't I Heard From You?" - Reba McEntire
When you think about it, it's a little strange that Kelly hasn't made a full-scale push into the country genre thus far in her career, especially given her family connections to the music scene. When she had ex-stepmother-in-law Reba McEntire on her show back in September, she of course had to pay tribute with this cover of a classic. Only Reba (and Kelly) could make a whole verse about the history of the telephone into a scathing sing-along jam.
31. "Seven Nation Army" - The White Stripes
Kelly recruited the USC marching to help her out on this bass-driven number, but she brought the falsetto all by herself, proving that yes, she can ALSO rock.
30. "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" - Fred Rogers
When she had director Marielle Heller and the cast of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood on the show, Kelly kicked things off with a beautiful tribute of her own, covering Mr. Rogers' infamous opening number alongside a stunning visual tribute from professional dancer Mason.
29. "Hopelessly Devoted to You" - Olivia Newton-John
For Valentine's Day 2020, Kelly gave us a Grease-themed "couples skate," crooning Sandy's lovestruck ballad as two roller skaters performed impressive choreography on wheels. We couldn't love it more if we tried.
28. "I'm Every Woman" - Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston. Kelly Clarkson. Power ballad. KEY CHANGE. Enough said.
27. "Blow Your Mind" - Dua Lipa
There is literally no song that doesn't benefit from the vocal power that Kelly brings to the table. Her tone is actually somewhat similar to Dua Lipa's, but the kiss-off dance track becomes something totally different -- and equally fun -- when Kelly takes the reins.
26. "Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga
A longtime fan of Mother Monster (please watch her cover "Shallow" if you haven't already), Kelly breaks the mold on this club hit almost immediately, belting out "I want your romance!" right at the top. Then, just to show off, she takes the second verse to her upper register. Also, she sings part of the song to a cardboard cutout of Meryl Streep. Maybe this should be higher on the list...?
25. "Before He Cheats" - Carrie Underwood
Rumors of a feud between the two American Idol stars have plagued them throughout their careers -- despite continued denials -- and Kelly put another nail in the already-very-shut coffin when she belted out Carrie's classic revenge anthem on her show. The badass cover even got the official seal of approval when Carrie retweeted the clip, adding her own commentary: "Saaaaaaaaang, gurl! ?"
24. "I'm With You" - Avril Lavigne
In a mashup tailor-made for nostalgic millennials, Kelly tackled this Avril ballad, forgoing the yodeling bridge to just belt that chorus again. Nobody's mad.
23. "We Belong" - Pat Benatar
Kelly Clarkson + an '80s power ballad classic = exactly what you need.
22. "I Hope You Dance" - Lee Ann Womack
Sometimes "Kellyoke" is about Kelly proving she can tackle every genre to pitch-perfection. But sometimes we just need to hear her belt a good ballad. Grab the tissues for this inspirational classic.
21. "Strawberry Wine" - Deana Carter
Another foray into the country genre is really just a tease but Kelly clearly can't help herself, trotting out this sweetly nostalgic '90s hit to kick off the new year.
20. "Sunflower" - Post Malone and Swae Lee
If you told me when we started this list that there would be multiple Post Malone covers, I would have thought you were pulling my leg. But here we are! Kelly's cover of the bubbly-sweet Into the Spider-Verse hit proves she can truly master any genre.
19. "What About Us" - Pink
Kelly and Pink, who shared the stage at the 2017 AMAs to cover R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts," also share a knack for turning their heartbreak into powerful, driving hits. Kelly's voice fits perfectly into a new version of Pink's politically-driven 2017 hit, reminding us to keep fighting for those happy ever afters.
18. "Roar" - Katy Perry
As fun as it is when Kelly plays with genre mashups, it's just as enjoyable to watch her slay a power-pop anthem that could easily have been a part of her repertoire. This one is just great.
17. "Let's Go Crazy" - Prince
OK, I know it's past time to stop being surprised when Kelly crushes a cross-genre hit, but this one is just too much fun. I think even the Purple One himself would have approved of her adding some big voice runs to his poppy party hit.
16. "Juice" - Lizzo
When Kelly's shinin', everybody she covers gets to shine. It's not our fault that we now 100% need a collab between these two queens. Blame it on the juice.
15. "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" - Eve feat. Gwen Stefani
A tribute to Kelly's fellow Voice coach, this cover is impressive not only because she adds some melody to Eve's rap verses, she also has to switch up the lyrics to make them more daytime-friendly. Then she belts it out at the end, you know, just because she can.
14. "If I Can't Have You" - Shawn Mendes
The beauty of this track is that it starts at 100, and Kelly is READY. A big belt, a little falsetto, and that's all before she steps out into the audience. It's a song made to showcase a powerful vocalist, and the host is more than up to the task.
13. "Dancing on My Own" - Robyn
Let it never be said that Kelly Clarkson doesn't know her audience. The power this has. The RANGE.
12. "The Story" - Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile is a force of nature on stage, and it takes a powerful voice to cover her songs. Thankfully, Kelly's got one -- and it show when she hits the belt on the second verse of this rock and roll love song.
11. "Ride" - Twenty One Pilots
Kelly Clarkson and Twenty One Pilots might seem like an odd combo, but just watch. We promise, by the time she hits that up-note on "fantasize" you'll be totally sold.
10. "Better Now" - Post Malone
We never thought we'd hear a better cover of this Posty hit than Troye Sivan's, but where Troye turns the track into a soft, mournful song, Kelly goes the opposite direction, fully rocking out to the breakup track. If you're having a down day, just give this cover a listen -- it'll be all better.
9. "Never Be Like You" - Flume
Kelly's great when she sings the hits, but it's super fun to watch her tackle slightly lesser-known hits like this one from Flume. Not only does she put her signature spin on the electronic breakup ballad -- and bless us with a powerful high note -- she also expertly navigates the modified, daytime-friendly lyrics. The chorus says "I'm only human," but we're not so sure there isn;'t some magic at play here.
8. "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" - Whitney Houston
Kelly's rendition of this Whitney classic is how we all *think* we sound when belting it out after a few drinks at a wedding reception. Actually, it's even better.
7. "Bittersweet Symphony" - The Verve Pipe
This Cruel Intentions classic was another surprisingly addition to Kelly's playlist, but the shock fades as soon as the strings kick in and she hits that first falsetto note. We know you can't change, Kelly, we'd never ask!
6. "If I Could Turn Back Time" - Cher
If I could turn back time, I would just keep giving myself two extra minutes to watch this cover over and over and over again. Truly, like, you know it's gonna be good: It's a great song, she's a great singer. But this is one of those covers where you finish it and go, "Uh-oh. How do I reconcile my feelings about this without slandering the legend that is Cher?" All things considered, it's not the worst problem to have.
5. "Think" - Aretha Franklin
While Kelly actually auditioned for the first season of American Idol with Etta James' "At Last," two of her most powerful performances during her winning run -- "Natural Woman" and "Respect" -- have kept her musically linked to Aretha, at least in my mind, since she entered the public consciousness. (Plus, no big deal, she followed in the Queen of Soul's footsteps when she performed "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at Barack Obama's second inauguration.) Kelly's talk show cover of "Think" proves once again why she's such a perfect fit to cover songs made famous by the late diva -- the groovy verses and forceful "Freedoms" seem just as effortless and awe-inspiring from her as they did from Aretha herself.
4. "Walking on Broken Glass" - Annie Lennox
Kelly has often cited Annie Lennox as one of her favorite performers and songwriters, and the two are similar in more ways than one, from their soulful range to the fact that neither gets quite enough credit for their dynamic presence in the pop music canon. "Walking on Broken Glass" is such a solid pick for "Kellyoke," as a fun, engaging song for the audience and one that gives Kelly plenty of room for some improvised runs. Oh, and also, THAT HIGH NOTE.
3. "Alone" - Heart
"Y'all ready?" Kelly asks the crowd before the iconic chorus to the beloved '80s power ballad kicks in. Yes, Kelly, we're ready! That the performer and mother of two can bust out those powerful high notes and then sit down and host the rest of the show is truly proof of some kind of superhuman skill.
2. "Make You Feel My Love" - Bob Dylan (with Ben Platt)
After Ben Platt's first line in this duet, you can hear Kelly yell "Sing!" in the background, like the congregation shouting at the choir. But the pair takes everyone to church with their harmonies in this new arrangement of the Bob Dylan classic, which was also famously covered by Adele. You think this version is going to follow a similar structure, but then Kelly's belt comes in like a hurricane and shakes up the familiar tune in a truly epic way. That she ends the song by immediately swatting at her partner in excitement is the perfect cherry on top.
1. "If It Makes You Happy" - Sheryl Crow
This song is as close to perfect as a "Kellyoke" cover has come so far. Perfectly in her range, perfectly suited to showcase her growly lower range and that mind-blowing belt. A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, all due respect to Ms. Crow, but this might be Kelly's song now.
Another Honorable Mention: The Kelly Medley
The Kellyoke we've all been waiting for came on Nov. 1, 2019, as Clarkson sang some of her greatest hits -- including "Since U Been Gone," "Miss Independent" and more -- as a part of her truly epic announcement of her new Las Vegas residency. We can't wait to see Kellyoke live in Vegas!
The Kelly Clarkson Show airs weekdays on NBC. Check here for more information on where to watch.