The fairy tale is over for Kelly Clarkson, at least in the video for the third single off Breakaway, "Behind These Hazel Eyes." If snipping a few dress straps in the "Since U Been Gone" clip seemed a radical display for that breakup power ballad, just hang on — there's some really ominous imagery going down in this one.
The single almost didn't make the album at all, according to Clarkson. "It had different lyrics in the beginning," she said. "I ended up calling Luke [Lukasz Gottwald], the writer, and we did a totally different song to it. It's now my favorite song on the record. Crappy relationships [make for] a good song."
The video was shot in Toronto in April with director Joseph Kahn (Britney Spears' "Toxic," Backstreet Boys' "Incomplete," U2's "Elevation"), with a concept conceived by Clarkson. It begins with her outside a cathedral wearing everyday clothing, then cuts to her performing in a shredded wedding dress. Following in the tradition of great wedding-dress wearers before her — think Sade, Gwen Stefani, Mariah Carey — she runs through a Tim Burton-esque forest filled with leaves.
Her memories begin to flash back as she performs, and the wind whips her hair around. Like a deteriorating old movie, the two periods of time collide, and we see a wedding party gathering at a cathedral. When the doors open, however, Clarkson looks down the aisle and sees her man marrying someone else. After she witnesses their vows sealed with a kiss, she escapes into the forest, branches snagging her dress until she falls into a muddy puddle. The dirt splashes on her face, and her eyes remain unmoving for a moment. Recovering her composure, she rejoins her band in the forest and rocks out.
By the end of the video she eliminates any chance of becoming a modern-day Miss Havisham. The wedding scene replays, but instead of saying "I do," she chucks the ring away, rips up the flowers and decorations and knocks down several groomsmen who try to stop her from fleeing the church.
Clarkson is well aware that this is her most intense video yet. "The whole thing is a metaphor about a broken fairy tale," she said. "You think everything is going well, and then reality kicks your butt. It's kind of a sad video, but it's going to be my best one. It's real, and that's why people like me."
Clarkson didn't know that acting out emotional wounds for the camera would result in some real ones. She left the shoot with bruises all over her body and still has a sizable green-and-yellow splotch on her left bicep. She says that even with iron supplements, she still bruises easily. "Look at that," she said, gesturing toward the mark. "It was so much worse — you have no idea."
She'll have to heal on the road, especially now that it looks like she'll be touring for a while longer (see "Kelly Clarkson Turns 23; Fans' Tour Wishes Come True"). Of course, touring has its own perils: At New York's Hammerstein Ballroom on Wednesday night, Clarkson danced barefoot onto a small piece of glass, dodged gifts being thrown on the stage and later battled the elastic waistband on her long hippie skirt. She thrilled the crowd with songs from Breakaway and Thankful and spoke about the possibilities for another emotional ride with her song "Because of You." That track will likely be her choice for the LP's next single.