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VOICE OVER: Kirsten Ria Squibb WRITTEN BY: Tal Fox
Kelly Clarkson, tonight we wanna cry. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the most emotionally stirring performances Kelly Clarkson has ever gifted us. Our countdown includes "Mine," "Because of You," "Clean," and more!

#10: “Tonight I Wanna Cry”
“The Kelly Clarkson Show” (2019-)


Diving right in with the aptly titled “Tonight I Wanna Cry,” Clarkson could’ve flooded her studio with her rendition of the Keith Urban song. She doesn’t just sing it; she really makes it her own, letting her heart and soul flow into every note. We know Clarkson is one of the best vocalists around; however, it’s not just about her impressive range and control. She also makes every listener feel like she’s singing just for them. Her voice has this incredible warmth that draws you in, like she’s right there with you, feeling every word alongside you. Even though the lyrics can be pretty heavy, her delivery feels like a comforting hug.

#9: “Behind These Hazel Eyes”
“Sveriges Television (SVT)” (1956-)


When it comes to singers, you’ve got the good, the great, and then there’s Kelly Clarkson. She’s not just technically skilled; there’s something about her voice that just defies description. What sets her apart isn’t just her vocal prowess; it’s how she pours everything she has into every number. Take this specific performance, for example. She really digs deep into the themes of heartbreak and betrayal, and you can feel every bit of it here. It’s like the ex who wronged her is standing right there, and she’s letting out all her rage. If you’ve ever been in Clarkson’s shoes, you won’t be able to hide behind your tear-filled eyes.

#8: “A Moment Like This”
“American Idol” (2002-16; 2018-)


When Kelly was crowned as the very first “American Idol” champion, her winning song proved America had chosen wisely. With barely a moment to absorb her victory, she channeled all her emotions into her performance. Rather than hiding behind flawless technique, Kelly embraces the rawness of the moment. If anything, her occasional slip-ups seem like her heartfelt way of showing the audience how much their support meant to her. Also, how many people do you know who’d share the mic during their big moment? As far as the audience and the fans go, “A Moment Like This” isn’t one they’d be quick to forget, and we’ve got the tear stains to prove it.

#7: “Clean”
“The Kelly Clarkson Show” (2019-)


Clarkson left us speechless with her rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Clean” during her popular “Kellyoke” segment. If you thought Swift’s version was heart-wrenching, prepare to clutch that tissue box even tighter for Clarkson’s. She delves deep into the pain and healing of a breakup, infusing the song with so much of her own experience that you’d swear she had written it herself or, at least, that Swift had penned it specifically for her. Clarkson is a master at unearthing the most fragile and poignant moments of a song and owning them with her powerful voice. The idea of a Kelly and Taylor collaboration might just lead to a worldwide shortage of tissues!

#6: “Because of You”
“Top of the Pops” (1964-2005)


Let’s be honest: this song can break your heart in any context. Co-penned by Clarkson, the lyrics paint a poignant picture of a young Kelly coming to terms with her parents’ divorce and its lasting impact. That context alone is enough to bring tears to anyone’s eyes. Yet, witnessing her perform it live, as she does here, is a whole other experience. Indeed, her vocals demonstrate the healing power of music. She lets herself be vulnerable and completely candid, allowing her voice to convey the sadness, anger, and despair of the song. It’s a performance so pure and honest that every note leaves us breathless. If you’re not already weeping, that ending should do it.

#5: “I Will Always Love You”
“57th Academy of Country Music Awards” (2022)


Stepping into the shoes of legends like Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston to perform this iconic number and leave a mark is a dream few singers even dare to entertain. Yet, Clarkson effortlessly blends Parton’s delicate touch with Houston’s powerhouse vocals, creating a performance that grabs you by the heartstrings and doesn’t let go. Later, Clarkson revealed that shortly before hitting the stage, she found out her divorce had been finalized. Indeed, as you watch her sing, you can feel her pouring every ounce of those complex emotions into the lyrics. It’s raw, powerful, and downright captivating. Even if you didn’t know the backstory, you’d still feel the intensity she’s radiating.

#4: “You Say”
“The Kelly Clarkson Show” (2019-)


In a heartfelt bathroom “Kellyoke” segment back in 2020, Clarkson unleashed everything she had into this cover of Lauren Daigle’s “You Say,” dedicated to the frontline heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Singing from her home, the video features clips of medical staff, making it a real tear-jerker. Yet, it’s her powerhouse vocals that really hit hard, taking us from a few silent tears to full-blown ugly crying. Throughout the pandemic, Clarkson was a vocal supporter of those who’d sacrificed so much to help others, and this performance is a beautiful expression of that gratitude. It will give you goosebumps and leave you feeling deeply moved. Even Clarkson struggles to keep it together!

#3: “It's Quiet Uptown”
“iHeartRadio” (2001-)


In 2016, Clarkson performed a spine-tingling acoustic version of “It’s Quiet Uptown” from “Hamilton” for iHeartRadio. This song always hits hard. Yet, Clarkson has this way of digging deep into the emotions of a song and uncovering feelings you didn’t even realize were there. She shared that she hadn’t seen the show when she was first asked to record the number for “The Hamilton Mixtape,” but her interpretation of the lyrics affected her profoundly. She was pregnant with her son at the time and dealing with all those mom-to-be anxieties. Clarkson hits us deep in the feels and holds on from the moment she starts singing until the final note.

#2: “Mine”
“Stripped Live at the Belasco Theater” (2023)


Clarkson shared that she poured her heart into songwriting during her divorce; her album “Chemistry” is a testament to that. One standout track, “Mine,” really delves into the aftermath of a breakup, capturing all the raw emotion and the journey toward healing. You can just sense that writing songs was her lifeline during that rough patch, and her voice resonates with anyone who’s been through heartbreak. The lingering notes echo like persistent thoughts, drawing listeners deeper into her world. Whether or not you’ve felt such heartache, Kelly’s delivery makes her music feel like a shared experience. She also shared it with her talk show audience, leaving barely a dry eye in the studio.

#1: “Piece By Piece”
“American Idol” (2002-16; 2018-)


“Piece By Piece” is essentially a follow-up to “Because of You,” but from a mother’s perspective. It reaffirms her and the father of her children’s vow always to prioritize their children. She strikes a powerful chord with audiences; just look at Keith Urban! Clarkson once explained that she struggles to perform the number live not because of past pain but because the song reminds her of her blessings. Knowing what we do about her relationship makes it hurt that much more. Still, each note she sings soars, carrying the weight of a lifetime of emotions. Yet, her performance is so stunning and stirring that we could watch her on repeat until our tears run dry.

Which Kelly Clarkson performance always moves you to tears? Let us know in the comments.

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