Avril Lavigne has had harsh words for pop singers in the past, but her words for Kelly Clarkson could not have been better suited.
Along with producer Matthew Gerrard, Lavigne wrote Clarkson’s new single, “Breakaway,” which “fits my life perfectly,” the original “American Idol” told New York’s Z100 (KKRZ-FM) over the weekend.
The song is so autobiographical that for the video Kelly decided to act out most of the lyrics, with the help of an actress portraying a younger version of herself.
Directed by Dave Meyers (Missy Elliott, Britney Spears), the video begins with the 8-year-old version of Clarkson singing from the back seat of a car as she watches a Texas thunderstorm out the window. “Grew up in a small town/ And when the rain would fall down/ I just stared out my window,” Clarkson sings.
The video then flashes to present-day Kelly arriving on the red carpet for the premiere of “The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement,” the movie that features the song (see “Kelly Clarkson, Lindsay Lohan Provide Entries To Princess Diaries 2 LP” ).
“Since it’s a movie tie-in, the idea stems from trying to figure out a new way of addressing the film-footage requirement they put on you, so we came up with the idea of her attending the premiere, which is very much something she will do in real life,” Meyers said. “And ‘Princess Diaries’ sort of parallels the humble kid who stumbles across the riches.”
Clarkson’s the star of the premiere, but with the flash of a camera bulb, the video switches back again, showing the little girl praying by her bedside as she sing the chorus: “I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly/ I’ll do what it takes ’til I touch the sky/ … I’ll take a risk/ Take a chance/ Make a change/ And break away.”
“We tied [the premiere] in with how she grew up as a kid, her first flight where she’s afraid of turbulence, just some of the human qualities behind a pop star,” Meyers explained. “It’s so rare you get to see who these people are. In Kelly’s case, I felt the song was so telling and emotional that it would be a good opportunity.”
As the clip continues, we see Clarkson on a private jet and then in the movie theater, where it flashes back to her working at a movie theater — a job the singer really did have growing up.
“I did some research,” Meyers said. “The first treatment had like six jobs of her, but when reality set in and we realized how much time we had, we decided to just do the theater.”
During the final verse, the video juxtaposes the younger Kelly singing on her rooftop as she watches the sun set with the present-day Clarkson performing at the premiere’s afterparty.
“She was very good; she came across so honest,” Meyers said. “I was a little worried, her coming off ‘American Idol,’ it inherently feels manufactured and I didn’t know how much of it was true artistry. But when I met her, she really does have a good, solid vibe. It was an honor to bring some of that out of her.”
Kelly told Z100 she recorded “Breakaway” to tide fans over until September, when the first single from her second record will be released. The album will follow in October (see ” Kelly Clarkson Hopes To Record With Fantasia, Expects ‘Idol’ Tag On Her Headstone” ).
“It’s very rock, very soul, a poppier Janis Joplin, but not as hard,” Clarkson said. “I’ve written most of [the songs] so far, but there’s some people who have some stuff for me. I’m not one of those people who thinks you have to write everything. [I'll sing it] as long as I can relate to it.”
Clarkson also told Z100 that her friends tease her about how often “From Justin to Kelly” airs on cable and that it’s been months since she last talked to co-star Justin Guarini.
“He’s totally working with different people,” she said. “I don’t even have his number.”
“The Princess Diaries 2″ soundtrack, which also features Avril and Lindsay Lohan, is due August 3. The movie, starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, hits theaters August 11.