When it comes to getting a stadium full of people amped and ready for some football, you could say Kelly Clarkson is the right girl for the job.
“I'm kind of experienced with anthems,” says the original American Idol, who has contributed a song written specifically for her beloved Dallas Cowboys as part of the Pepsi NFL Anthems program. “I think when you are born in Fort Worth, Texas you kind of come out of the womb yelling for the Cowboys. My family now thinks I've made it… Ten years of working your butt off means nothing until you have done something for the Cowboys.”
Clarkson’s original song, “Get Up,” will be available for download today. Other compositions penned by Kid Rock (for the Detroit Lions), Ice Cube (Oakland Raiders), Travie McCoy (New York Giants) (his anthem will be be exclusively available at retail stores, including Wal-Mart, on specially marked 24-packs of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Pepsi MAX. McCoy’s song can be downloaded as of today using the in-pack redemption code until September 3, after which it will be available for free download on PepsiAnthems.com. From August 13 – September 24), and a remixed version of Wiz Khalifa’s "Black and Yellow" will be rolled out in upcoming weeks as part of Pepsi's "Live for Now" campaign. All songs will be available for free download at PepsiAnthems.com until 2/28/2012. All fans can register for a free trip to the Super Bowl at the site.
Clarkson says writing “Get Up," (produced by Olige and Josh Abraham) came easily, as the “10-year-old” inside of her was inspired by the subject at an early age. “My manager called me one day and let me know the NFL was going to be approaching artists to see if they would be open to writing a song for a team specifically from where they are from,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter.
In fact, she was so excited for the opportunity, she wrote the song that night. Says Clarkson: “The thing that inspired me the most was everybody knows the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders just as much as the Cowboys. So I wrote the verses from a cheer perspective. The anthem is in the chorus where everybody can sing along and have a good time. I am pretty pumped. I am glad it came to me so quickly. That doesn't really happen that fast, normally.”
Clarkson and football have become a dynamite combination. She notes that her highly-praised rendition of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl earlier this year was one of the most “nerve-wracking” moments in her life.
“I’ll tell you what, I sang the anthem about a billion times in my life, but everybody kept saying 'You don't want to screw it up like Christina (Aguilera) did last year,’” she says. “Everybody made me so nervous. I'm human. I could totally mess this up. Millions of people around the world watching is a lot of pressure, so I hope you all enjoyed it!”
Clarkson has come a long way since her historic first season of American Idol. Her definitive, declarative, monster hit, “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” leads Idol alumni sales with 3,669,000 downloads since it was released this January. The song’s positive, empowering message resonates with people not only for its age-old declaration, but for the fact that its chorus wails on a simple idea.
“It’s an empowering song that makes them feel like they can climb a mountain. Whenever I heard it that's how I felt,” she explains. “I [couldn’t] wait for people to hear this. I [couldn’t] wait to sing it. I always love when I get amped up about a song because I think it might be successful , since I am so excited about it, and because I am a huge music fan.”
Clarkson said her tastes range from Tupac and Biggie Smalls to No Doubt (“Rock Steady” is a favorite record of the singer’s because of its experimentation with Jamaican rhythms) and beyond. She is a constant student of music, with an ever expanding iPod and a willingness to broaden her musical muscle on record and in concert. Her current tour features different covers each night, and she isn’t afraid to experiment (a recent clip of Clarkson covering Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” decked in a hoodie is something to behold). The singer said she is enjoying incorporating Fun.’s hit, “We Are Young” into the set, and she intends to keep mixing it up.
“I love everything. I grew up singing classical music. I think it's very ignorant to pigeonhole yourself into one category without even opening your eyes to other types of music because you never know what you will be opened up to,” she says. “I love how all the artists I grew up listening to were like that. They were touched by other music and that made them successful and have longevity. That's my goal.”
One artist Clarkson admires is Idol’s newest judge, Mariah Carey. She said that Carey’s involvement is a validation of how revered the show has become in the industry since Clarkson's own “ghetto” season one (her words).
“I wish I could audition with Mariah Carey in the room. That would be pretty awesome,” she sighs. “I think it's great..I was the first winner and every artist in the world rained on that parade. Everybody was like ‘that's a crap show’...and now everybody is performing on it and wants to be a part of it. I think it's awesome for the validity of the show and how hard me and Carrie (Underwood) and Chris (Daughtry) and Jennifer Hudson and a lot of us have been working to bring it validity. It's kind of a cool thing for me ten years later to have somebody like her, one of the biggest female artists ever, embracing that show.”
If there is any advice for future hopefuls hitching their dreams to Idol, Clarkson is quick to point out that life after the show is hard work.
“All of these kids [treat it like] it's a level of entitlement or something..They just think because you are on the show you are all of the sudden a star, but it's not about being a star,” she confesses. “On our season we were like kids in camp. Nobody knew what to do. The show was ever changing every day. They did one season of Pop Idol in the UK but America is a very different market. They dropped us off in a mall and said find some clothes to wear on national television. I am maybe the closest to white trash you can get. What do I buy? White pants I guess? I definitely looked like a cocktail waitress.”
She laughs at the memory, but says it was a learning curve for everyone involved-even the producers.
“It was just a ghetto season. Now they have stylists, and hair and makeup people everywhere..They didn't want to see the floor monitors because it wasn't aesthetically appealing ... they had them under the stage, and nine times out of 10 you couldn't even hear yourself. It was like you were basing it on what you did in rehearsal and hoping to God that you were somehow in rhythm. It was a hard season, but it prepared me.”
She adds that the summer experiment with her show, Duets, afforded her an opportunity to develop and mentor talent. And even though the show won’t have a second season, she continues to find the experience rewarding, and is enjoying helping contestants from the show in their own ongoing journey.
“I actually have Jordan Meredith, my girl, out with me on tour for a week and then we are going to get her in the studio,” she says delightedly. “Jason Farol came out with me at the Hollywood Bowl and sang with me. We are getting him hooked up with some writers and helping him develop his sound. I love being able to be on the other side of it and help someone and not want anything from them. A lot of times in this industry people are always trying to climb a ladder. I don't need to climb a ladder. I love that I could help someone accomplish a dream. I think what I got out of that experience is I love being involved in that.”