Kelly Clarkson is known as much for her realness as she is for her voice. The American Idol winner has been unashamedly vocal about her opinions on various topics over the years, including the state of country music.
While Clarkson is considered a pop artist, she is a big country music fan and said she is “mad about” the direction the genre has headed in recent years. In a promo for her talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, prior to its premiere in 2019, the singer sat down for a YouTube Q&A where she was quizzed on internet slang. When told that “Farm Emo” was slang term for country music, Clarkson went off with her own explanation of why.
“You know why? Because country music doesn’t sound country anymore. So they’re making up terms to be like ‘this is country’…Country music is gone,” Kelly said.
“I don’t know who’s making it, but there might be like four people, because now it’s like weird rap — like weird word rap….When I started doing country they were like, ‘Oh, you’re pop. You can’t do country. You’re not country enough.’ I’m like, ‘Sorry. Let me show you the list of the Top 20.'”
Kelly added that “country music doesn’t even sound country anymore” and challenged fans to listen to older country to be reminded about what country music is supposed to sound like.
“I just love country music, okay? So, why don’t we all just start putting our ’80s and ’90s records on and let’s figure out, what is country music? What’s the sound we like again? Because it’s not what you’re playing on the radio,” Clarkson said. “I’m mad about it. That’s right. Because I’m a fan. I like to go to shows. And I don’t want to feel like I’m going to some weird rock show where they start rapping.”
The former Voice coach then turned her attention to the lack of women being played on country radio, saying that many female country artists heavily influenced her as a pop artist.
“What happened? The ’90s was filled…You want me to go off on how many women were so monumental in my…I’m a singer and I’m not even in country music and I was so inspired by Reba [McEntire], Trisha [Yearwood], Patty [Loveless], I could keep going…Martina [McBride], Terri [Clark]…The Judds, Wynonna…There’s so many women. All these women are from the ’90s. What is happening in country music? This is what’s happening. Y’all aren’t playing country music anymore.”
Kelly Clarkson’s connection to the country music genre gives her opinion some weight. The singer, who won the first season of American Idol in 2002, partnered with Jason Aldean on “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” a collab that won two ACM Awards and a CMA award. She also teamed up with her former mother-in-law Reba McEntire for “Because Of You,” and Dan+Shay for “Keeping Score.” Clarkson has also graced country music awards show stages several times, most recently at the 2022 Academy of Country Music Awards where she delivered a stunning tribute to Dolly Parton with a cover of “I Will Always Love You.”
Hear Kelly Clarkson’s country music rant in full in the video below.