Kelly Clarkson had one prerequisite for her "Miss Independent" video: no references to a certain TV show.
"It's gonna be more Kelly Clarkson the artist, not [Kelly Clarkson] from 'American
With those simple guidelines, director Liz Friedlander, best known for Blink-182's "Adam's Song" and Michelle Branch's "Everywhere," let her creative juices flow.
"Honestly, I never watched 'American Idol,' so I didn't have a preconceived notion of her," Friedlander said Friday. "The song is explosive and young and has some cool electronic beats, so we took the visual style from the music."
Friedlander shot Clarkson in a Los Angeles house "that comes alive at times." "We start out and the house is really quiet, everybody's sleeping [and] she's the only one awake. Instantly, as the choruses come in, everybody wakes up and it turns into a party, and then it kind of goes to sleep again," the director explained. "It's really based on the way the song sounds in that it's very even-keeled and rhythmic in the verses, and then as the choruses explode we tried to do the same thing visually."
Along with the choruses, the erupting parties are also cued by Clarkson locking eyes with a "cute surfer boy" whose reflection she keeps seeing in mirrors. "And in the end — maybe — they get together," Friedlander added.
The director kept a simple look for Kelly (jeans and a tank top) and the house but then countered the simplicity with special effects that will show words and animation on the walls during the choruses.
Clarkson shot the video the same day she learned Thankful would debut at the top of the Billboard albums chart (see "From Idol To Chart-Topper: Kelly Clarkson To Debut At #1"). "She nailed two amazing takes right after she got that news," Friedlander recalled. "I really loved working with her. ... You understand how she won the show because you start rooting for her."
Kelly finished writing "Miss Independent" after producer Rhett Lawrence (Mariah Carey) and Christina Aguilera started putting it together for the latter's Stripped.
"It's very funny when the song came into play with me ... 'cause at that certain time of my life, I was actually going through that kind of thing," Clarkson said. "I've always been real guarded about work and career. It wasn't even with, like, guy relationships, it was just, like, friends and just letting people in, you know? And so it was kinda weird 'cause I was going through that same thing at the same time, so it was very easy for me to write the bridge to the song."
Kelly surprised some fans by choosing such an uptempo number for her first single and performing it with choreography on "American Idol," but it was a natural move for her (see "As Kelly Clarkson Drops LP, She's Thankful For Simon's Barbs").
"My friends called me and were like, 'Oh my God! Finally you performed something and it was like you!' " she said. " 'Cause they know I love rock. Love it!"
Clarkson will perform "Miss Independent" on "The Late Show With David Letterman" Tuesday and again for Fox's "Summer Music Mania" special on June 20. A week earlier, she will hit the big screen in "From Justin to Kelly" (see "Kelly Clarkson Dispels Dating Rumors, Clears Up Movie Plot").
For a feature interview with the first "American Idol" winner, see "Kelly Clarkson: Crowd-Surfing Anti-Diva".