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 On The Set Of "Since U Been Gone"

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With the title Breakaway, one might assume Kelly Clarkson's new album is an attempt to distance herself from "American Idol," the glorified karaoke contest that launched her career. And one would be wrong. "I didn't even think of that, I'm so stupid," Clarkson said. "It has nothing to do with 'American Idol.' I will never break away from 'American Idol.' I'm the first one. It's on the grave. I've come to realize that and it's OK, I don't care. It's how I got in the business, and I think how I really got in the business is talent, so hopefully that's gonna keep me here and that's what matters." So then what is the Burleson, Texas, native trying to break away from? MTV News' Corey Moss tracked her down at the video shoot for her latest single, "Since U Been Gone," to find out.

MTV: First of all, how was it working with former Evanescence members Ben Moody and David Hodges?

  Photos: Kelly Clarkson On The Set Of The "Since U Been Gone" Video

 "Since U Been Gone"
Kelly Clarkson: It was a trip. They're both so different from each other and so different from me, but I think the three of us getting together just created such great songs. "Because of You" and "Addicted" are the ones on the album that I did with them, and we've all got three totally separate backgrounds in music, so those two songs are like really the two best on the album.

MTV: Can we expect the tracks to sound a little like Evanescence?

Clarkson: Well, I'm not goth, so obviously that's not going to happen. It is a bit more rock, but I wrote the songs that I did with them like three years ago, maybe even four, actually. Hearing the Evanescence album, you can obviously tell that David and Ben have a real passion for music and that big kind of background. And I have a big voice and I like the music to match it, so it was a real dream team.

MTV: So you wrote a lot of the songs?

Clarkson: I was Little Miss Songbird, writing everywhere with everyone. Some of the songs didn't make it; they were awesome as well, but you can only have so many on an album. I ended up writing like half the album and working with a lot of great writers and producers. And the songs I didn't write, writers that I was working with wrote for me.

MTV: What sorts of things did you write about?

  Photos: Kelly Clarkson Since "Idol"

 "The album is like a journal of the past two and a half years." — Kelly Clarkson
Clarkson: Lyrically, the album is like a journal of the past two and a half years, and I'm gonna say there was some down points. The album is a lot deeper, definitely, than Thankful. It's just a lot harder, but it's very honest and it's very real and it's very raw at the same time, and that's what I love about it. You know, there's some happy songs on there, but for the most part it's kind of one of those albums that's just like You listen to [Alanis Morissette's] Jagged Little Pill and there's not too many happy ones on there. This album is just like all the stuff that's just going inside of me, all this passion and emotion and everything.

MTV: So is there a central theme running through the record?

Clarkson: The message that goes through the whole album is actually a title of one of the songs called "Hear Me." I think everybody goes through that, and it's not just because I'm in the industry. Everybody goes through that at a point in their life, especially when you're young and you just wanna be heard. You want everybody to just be quiet around you and just listen just for once. And that's kind of the album. Would somebody please stop and listen instead of just passing by and having me smile all the time. Obviously there's a lot of different kind of feelings and variety on the album as well, but that's probably the major thing that I just had to get out with the lyrics.

MTV: After the success of Thankful, did you find that your label and management gave you more control in the studio?

Clarkson: Everybody is always asking me if I am more in control of this one or if I feel the sophomore curse, and I don't really feel any of that. All I did, literally, was go in the studio with people and I had a lot fun. It was a great experience just 'cause I knew obviously a lot more from the first record. It was a roller coaster. It's always a roller coaster when it comes to the music industry, but it was fun.

MTV: Did living and recording in Los Angeles contribute to the vibe of the album?

Clarkson: Oh, I hate where I live. I have a home in Texas, but I'm renting in Beverly Hills and I hate it, 'cause I just feel posh or like I'm in "Clueless" or something. It just doesn't fit me. But anyway, I made the record out here in L.A. except for "Since U Been Gone," which I did in Sweden actually, which was cool. All those people are pretty, every one of them. It's weird. Anyway, I just ramble, so sorry. Most of the songs we did here in L.A. and it was really cool just to be based [in one place] instead of flying around, 'cause the last record I was playing all over the place and it was just chaotic.

MTV: Why did you call the album Breakaway?

Clarkson: "Breakaway" is a song I did for [the] "Princess Diaries" [sequel] that's out right now, so it [originally] wasn't even an option for like a title or anything, but it so explains and describes all the songs on my album, like each and everyone of them. Like I said about the past two and a half years, I've grown from that now and I'm breaking away from that, so it just fit.

MTV: So "Breakaway" is on the album?

Clarkson: It was always going to be on the album from the moment I recorded it, but I didn't know people were going to like the song so much, but that's cool, that's awesome. It's a great song. Avril did such a great job writing it.

MTV: Do you have a favorite track on the album?

Clarkson: Probably my favorite track on the whole album, just because it's the sexiest song I've ever written in my life, is "Addicted." I love it. Everyone's been there — I wrote this song about someone that you loved but it was almost a little bit like an obsession. You were just like, "I don't really love them," but you were just obsessed with them 'cause you had nothing else to do. Everybody does that at one point in your life. It's totally about that. It's like their drug, it's like you can't get away from them.

MTV: What music were you listening to while making this album?

Clarkson: I'm a big Aerosmith girl, Aretha Franklin, Maroon 5. I like to listen to a lot of older stuff just 'cause I don't want to get too influenced while I'm making an album 'cause then you might end up sounding like them. So actually I haven't listened to a lot of current people at all. ... There's a song on my album that very much has an Aerosmithy feel, but that's OK because I'm 22 years old and I'm nowhere near Steven Tyler, so it's cool.

MTV: You and Tamyra Gray did a duet on Thankful. Why are there no duets on Breakaway?

Clarkson: To be honest with you I was so locked away in a cave doing the album that I didn't even think about it. I was so focused on just getting the message out that was in my heart that I didn't even pay attention to anything else. But I'd love to do collaborations with anyone.

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 "Since U Been Gone"