Kelly Clarkson’s setlist ranged from emotional power ballads to high-energy anthems that spanned her more than two-decade career (and included a notable lyric swap in one of her most iconic hits). The powerhouse singer-songwriter kicked off her set wit 2011’s “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” when she took the T-Mobile Arena stage at the 2023 iHeartRadio Music Festival on Saturday night (September 23). It all happened after she shared an unforgettable moment with a Las Vegas street performer earlier that day.
Appropriately, the original American Idol champ, crowned during the smash-hit competition show’s inaugural season in 2002, was introduced to the stage by longtime Idol host Ryan Seacrest, along with *NSYNC’s Lance Bass. Clarkson went on to perform her first-ever single that she released after winning the first season of American Idol: “Miss Independent.”
Earlier this year, Clarkson released her latest full-length record, a powerful 14-track album that she recently shared on the TODAY Show was “a hard record...to make.” Chemistry was the first non-holiday album Clarkson released since her divorce. She said, however, she “didn’t want it to be a divorce album. I wanted it to be a relationship album. It wasn’t all bad, so I wanted to celebrate that as a whole. For the most part, it’s sad. But that’s how I work through what’s going on with me, through writing.”
Two of the Chemistry songs Clarkson performed on the iHeartRadio Music Festival stage were “mine” and “lighthouse.” She described the latter to the T-Mobile Arena crowd as her latest single that’s, “depressing, so I hate to bring down the party, but sometimes it has to happen,” before beginning a stunning rendition of the emotional ballad. The album also included nods to joyful parts of a relationship (including “favorite kind of high”), and upbeat tracks (like “i hate love,” featuring Steve Martin).
Clarkson released the deluxe edition of Chemistry on Friday (September 22). The extended project, now 22 tracks, includes a song featuring vocals from her 9-year-old daughter, River Rose. Clarkson’s eldest child joins her superstar mother on “you don’t make me cry.”
Clarkson rocked a sleek all-black look — a long blazer with sky-high boots and lacy accents, complete with shimmering jewelry pieces — when she took the stage at the iHeartRadio Music Festival. She closed her set with one of her most iconic his throughout her career, prompting an epic singalong with the crowd: “Since U Been Gone,” an empowering anthem that appeared on her 12-track Breakaway album in 2004.
Notably, Clarkson made a lyric swap at the end of “Since U Been Gone,” singing: “I’m so happy now that you’re gone.” It's not the first time, however, that the Texas-born megastar has made changes to the lyrics of her songs on stage. Last month, for example, Clarkson put a new spin on “Piece By Piece” during her Las Vegas residency, making a few changes to the 2015 ballad following her divorce.
Other artists to take the stage at the two-night, multi-genre iHeartRadio Music Festival this year include Kane Brown, Foo Fighters, Fall Out Boy, Lil Wayne, Lenny Kravitz, Miguel, Public Enemy, Sheryl Crow, Tim McGraw, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Travis Scott and more.
If you missed any of this year’s iHeartRadio Music Festival, or just want to relive the weekend, you can watch all of the best moments on demand on Hulu from October 10 through October 31.