Kelly Clarkson goes unplugged in VH1 special

By Tom Comi

Some could argue that the first season of American Idol wasn’t as competitive as the the following years due to its then-obscurity, but nobody can claim that there has been a winner to date with a more powerful voice than inaugural champ Kelly Clarkson.

Fans and skeptics alike can find out tonight (11pm ET) when the Texas native takes the stage in a VH1 Unplugged special. For those unfamiliar with the term, unplugged means a scaled-down, acoustic performance with no electric guitars, keyboards or over-amplification. It presents musicians and singers as they are, instead of allowing them to hide their deficiencies.

That’s why this is such a perfect setting for Clarkson, who was introduced to the music world in 2002 when she took the Idol stage by storm. Everybody wondered who this unassuming girl with the incredible voice was, and many speculated whether the winner of a reality TV competition could have any staying power in the industry.

Her Unplugged concert demonstrates precisely why she is still going strong almost 10 years later. Her remarkable ability to hit a power note and then slip into a falsetto without skipping a beat is showcased in a cover of fellow Idol winner Carrie Underwood’s song “I Know You Won’t.”

Clarkson has taken some musical missteps over the years, but her resiliency and self-effacing sense of humor about her weight and dating struggles make her an underdog of sorts that we can’t help but root for. It also doesn’t hurt that she can belt out her hit “Since U Been Gone” in one setting or strip it down, as she does in this concert (which was recorded in New York last month).

She would be the first to tell you that she’s not a big fan of “A Moment Like This” — her first hit that she was forced to record after winning Idol — but it seems appropriate tonight. This is Kelly Clarkson in her element, showing off one of the best voices in the industry. This is her moment, but we sure are lucky to be tagging along.