Original American Idol has all she ever wanted

By Guy D’Astolfo

Kelly Clarkson once again finds herself in a good place, but she had to get through the wilderness to find it.

The Texas native’s current album, “All I Ever Wanted,” has not only spawned several hits but also marked a much-welcomed return to her signature pop sound.

Earlier this year, her single “My Life Would Suck Without You” jumped from No. 97 to No. 1 in its first week of release, breaking the record for the largest leap to the top. She also let it be known she’s no pushover with the bouncy hit “I Do Not Hook Up.”

Clarkson, who won the first season of “American Idol” in 2002, has four albums under her belt: her debut “Thankful” (2003); the multi-platinum second album “Breakaway” (2004), which included smash hit “Since You Been Gone”; the dark and personal “My December” (2007); and “All I Ever Wanted,” which was released in March. The four albums have sold more than 10.3 million copies in the United States.

The 27-year-old launched a nationwide tour this month, which makes a stop at Youngstown’s Covelli Centre on Saturday.

Early reviews of the tour indicate the singer is in full control.

Philadelphia Inquirer writer A.D. Amorosi had this to say about the her concert last weekend in Atlantic City, N.J.:

“Clarkson seemed free on the stage Saturday at Trump Taj Mahal’s Mark G. Etess Arena, deconstructing some of her hits and covering Black Keys and Patsy Cline tunes.

“The stage is an anything-goes zone. And she does that well.

“Clarkson could strip down her 'Behind These Hazel Eyes' to an acoustic guitar and a bluesy warble, or wail out with just a piano’s tinkle and six-string fuzz behind her on the Keys’ 'Lies.' Clarkson and her 11-piece band could ramp up the dire plink of 'Never Again' and turn it into a chilly Euro-disco dance track.”

Making music is all Clarkson ever wanted, but she did have to navigate through a rough patch to regain her mojo.

Her troubles over the past two years have been well-documented. First came a rift with her record label over the not-so- radio-friendly “My December.” Then in the spring, she got some grief from gossip magazines over the fact that she put on a few pounds.

Self magazine caused a flap when it airbrushed a cover photo of Clarkson in its September issue to make her look thinner.

There was also a fuss this year over her song “Already Gone,” which bears similarities to Beyonc ’s song “Halo” — both of which were written by Ryan Tedder. Clarkson said fans would think she was ripping off another artist, and was furious with Tedder.

But all that has blown over.

For sticking her to her guns, Self magazine named Clarkson one of the “Most Inspiring Women” of 2009.

In an interview with the magazine, Clarkson said, “I’m the girl who could release a record that sells 500,000 copies or 13 million and I’d like it the same. I’m never going to come out with a record I don’t like.”

“Miss Independent,” indeed.

Good seats remain available for Saturday’s show at Covelli Centre, which will host another “American Idol” alumnus — Daughtry — on Nov. 4.

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