Her sad song. Kelly Clarkson performed an original Christmas track on The Kelly Clarkson Show that was inspired by her divorce.
“Merry Christmas (To the One I Used to Know)” was the talk show host’s Kellyoke song on the Tuesday, December 13, episode. Clarkson, 40, performed the tune with music director Jason Halbert on piano. She was wearing the red Needle & Thread dress that she donned for the People’s Choice Awards on December 11.
The ballad was featured on Clarkson’s 2021 holiday album, When Christmas Comes Around, and she wrote it amid her split from Brandon Blackstock. The exes — who share daughter River Rose, 8, and son Remington, 6 — married in October 2013 and announced their split in June 2020. They finalized their divorce earlier this year following a messy back and forth in court.
In Clarkson’s 2021 NBC holiday special, also titled When Christmas Comes Around, she opened up about what inspired the downtrodden track.
“There aren’t many holiday songs for people feeling lost and just plain sad,” the American Idol winner said at the time. “The holidays come with a whole range of emotions. I’m going to be real with y’all: When I wrote this next song, I was crying my face off, which happens even at Christmas time. I’d just put my kids to bed, and I was just going through it, having a really hard time.”
The Texas native has been open about coping with her feelings about her divorce through music. She told Variety in September that she was channeling her emotions into her next studio album.
“The whole divorce thing happened and I needed to write it,” Clarkson explained. “And then I didn’t know if I was going to release it, because you can be very angry in that state of mind. So, some of the songs, they definitely cover the gamut of emotions; there’s everything on the album. It’s almost like the arc of a relationship, because the beginning is so beautiful and so sweet, and then it evolves. And sometimes it doesn’t evolve how you want.”
The struggles of her personal life made her creativity flow as she recorded at a breakneck pace.
“When my ex and I first separated, there were many emotions. It was hard,” the “Miss Independent” singer recalled to the outlet. “My producer and I were laughing yesterday because I was like, ‘Remember that time we wrote, like, 25 songs in a week?’ A lot of those are the ones that are on the album. I literally wrote most of these almost two years ago.”
However, Clarkson couldn’t put out the new music while she was still processing her split. “Then I told my label, ‘I can’t talk about this until I’ve gone through it,’ and it’s just taken some time to do that,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons we’ve done a lot of Christmas stuff the past two years — because I was like, ‘Well, that’s happy!’”