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Kelly Clarkson wants you to know her new album isn't just a sad divorce record

Kelly Clarkson's 10th studio album explores the rollercoaster of emotions she felt with her ex-husband.
Jared Siskin
Getty Images for Warner Music Gr
Kelly Clarkson's 10th studio album explores the rollercoaster of emotions she felt with her ex-husband.

Kelly Clarkson knows why you might think it, but she says her latest album, Chemistry, is about more than just her very public divorce.

Who is she? Clarkson is the Grammy-winning, chart-smashing singer and talk show host who has sold millions of records since winning the first season of American Idol in 2002.

  • With pop-rock breakup anthems like "Since U Been Gone" and "Behind These Hazel Eyes," her second studio album Breakaway became one of the best-selling albums of the 21st century with more than 12 million copies sold worldwide. 
  • What's the big deal? A lot's changed in Clarkson's life since her last non-Christmas album, Meaning of Life, came out in 2017.

  • After almost seven years of marriage, she filed for divorce in June 2020 from husband Brandon Blackstock. 
  • After a contentious two year legal battle, Clarkson's divorce was finalized in March 2022. She was granted primary custody of their two children, River Rose and Remington Alexander.
  • On Chemistry, Clarkson's 10th studio album, she explores the rollercoaster of emotions she felt throughout her relationship with Blackstock.  
  • Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock attend the 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar in January 2020.
    Frazer Harrison / Getty Images
    Getty Images
    Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock attend the 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards at Barker Hangar in January 2020.

    What is she saying? Clarkson spoke with NPR's Juana Summers to talk about the highs and lows of love.

    On whether it's fair to characterize the album as a divorce album:

    I get why people would say that, because obviously I'm divorced now and I haven't had music since then. So it's like, "Oh, what is she going to say?" We're all guilty of that with any artists we love. And unfortunately, from tragedy and hurtful places, a lot of music that is highly relatable comes out of that. I'm not offended by it by any means.

    But it was really important to me to have a full scope of a relationship and not just the negative. That's because you only see what was happening in the end and you don't remember that's not what it was the whole time. There were some beautiful moments like, how lucky am I to have felt that, to have been in love, to have that chemical reaction with someone?

    So "Favorite Kind of High" is more of that sexy, intoxicating beginning part of a relationship. There's "Magic," where it's like you're struggling, but the person is magical, you're in love. There's that kind of chemistry of holding on to something that you shouldn't be that's maybe unhealthy for you. That's what the album is — it's all these different types of chemistry that you can feel in a positive or negative way.

    On how she decided which songs to include on the album:

    I kind of gauged which songs were going to make the album with what was already out there without me having any control. A lot of things — whether it be court documents or what [people] thought they knew — there was just so much that was public without anybody in the situation saying anything. So I kind of gauged what I felt at the moment was like, "This is OK, because this has all been talked about already. So I can at least explore this honestly and vulnerably."

    On what she hopes the album does for others experiencing heartbreak:

    I think anyone going through something like that, the tough part about it is, no one knows exactly what you're going through, everybody's situation is so different. So that's so isolating and you feel so alone.

    I remember, even after I wrote my whole record, Lucious ended up coming out with this album called Second Nature, [and] I have worn that album out. I relate to so many of those songs and you could definitely tell a lot of it was about a relationship not working out. So to find a connection like that is so healing, and I hope that my album does that for someone.

    There's a purpose for it like, OK I went through something that maybe other people, maybe this will make them feel less alone, you know, when they're crying on their floor and their world is a dumpster fire.

    So what now?

  • Fans shouldn't expect a huge world tour to accompany the album. "Would I love to do a world tour? Absolutely! I don't know how I would fit that in right now," Clarkson said, adding that she wants to be a present mom to her children. "My kiddos are first and foremost the most important thing." 
  • But she will be headed to Las Vegas for a 10-night residency dubbed "Chemistry: An intimate night with Kelly Clarkson," which begins late July. 
  • Learn more:

  • 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' gets rewritten by John Legend And Kelly Clarkson
  • The 200 greatest songs by 21st century women+
  • The rebuilt heart of Jason Isbell
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    Gurjit Kaur
    Gurjit Kaur is a producer for NPR's All Things Considered. A pop culture nerd, her work primarily focuses on television, film and music.