This “Kellyoke” segment is for the Swifties! On the Jan. 23 episode of “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” Kelly Clarkson performed Taylor Swift’s “Better Man (Taylor’s Version)” from the Grammy winner’s “Red (Taylor’s Version)” album, and it was pure country gold. Clarkson’s rendition was all the more special because it was the first time she’d performed a Swift song for her “Kellyoke” segment since season one of her chat show. However, her performance was so good it was well worth waiting three seasons for her to return to the “All Too Well” singer’s catalog.
Clarkson and her backup band were all dressed in football jerseys for the performance, which featured the host returning to the genre she knows best. “Better Man” is a country ballad through and through, and in Clarkson’s hands it will absolutely break your heart in the best way possible.
That’s fitting not only because of the lyrics, but because it’s also the song that almost got away for Swift. “Better Man” was written for her 2012 album “Red,” but she had written too many songs she loved for the album and ultimately chose to include “All Too Well” instead. She then passed the song along to Little Big Town, who took home the song of the year award at the 2017 CMAs for their version of the song.
“[I]t was a song that I really thought belonged on the album and there were just too many songs I loved that I had written in that period of time, so some of them had to be left off. I think I chose ‘All Too Well’ over ‘Better Man,'” she told Amazon Music in 2021, per Twitter account Taylor Swift Updates. “I think that was what happened. I was either going to put on ‘All Too Well’ or ‘Better Man,’ and then I left off ‘Better Man,’ and then later on, years later, Little Big Town ended up recording that song and it went to #1, it won CMA Song of the year, it was nominated for a Grammy. . . . It was like the coolest thing ever, and I’m so grateful to them for doing that, and now I get to put out my version of it, so pretty fun moment.”
Now that Swift is rerecording her previous albums, she’s had the chance to add songs that were previously cut from the original release, and “Better Man” is one of them. Seeing Clarkson take on a track specifically from “Red (Taylor’s Version)” is extra special, because the “American Idol” alum was one of the first people to encourage Swift to rerecord her albums after she lost the masters for her early work to Scooter Braun.
In 2019, Clarkson tweeted, “@taylorswift13 just a thought, U should go in & re-record all the songs that U don’t own the masters on exactly how U did them but put brand new art & some kind of incentive so fans will no longer buy the old versions. I’d buy all of the new versions just to prove a point.”
Now it seems Clarkson isn’t just buying Swift’s rerecordings, she’s putting her own spin on “Taylor’s Version” too.
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