Next week, Kelly Clarkson becomes the first American Idol act to release a greatest-hits compilation.
"Well, I hope no one would have beat me on that!" says Clarkson, who won the inaugural 2002 season at age 20. "That would have been sad."
Greatest Hits: Chapter One, out Monday, includes hits Since U Been Gone, Breakaway and My Life Would Suck Without You, plus three new tunes. Two have been released as singles to different radio formats: Catch My Breath to pop, and Don't Rush, featuring Vince Gill, to country.
Clarkson, 30, wrote Catch My Breath with her musical director, Jason Halbert, specifically for the new album. "When I found out the label wanted to release a greatest-hits project, I was like, 'I want to write something specifically to describe the arc and flow of how the last 10 years have been," she says.
In those 10 years, Clarkson has released five albums that have sold more than 11 million copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. She recently had her biggest hit, Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You), which has sold nearly 4 million downloads and is the top single ever from an Idol act.
On the personal side, Clarkson is involved with Brandon Blackstock, who manages country singer Blake Shelton. He also is the son of Clarkson's manager, Narvel Blackstock, and is Reba McEntire's stepson.
The two first met several years ago, when Blackstock worked as Rascal Flatts' road manager. He and Clarkson reconnected at this year's Super Bowl, where she sang the national anthem and Shelton sang America the Beautiful with wife Miranda Lambert.
Their relationship even influences her musical choices. "He's opening me up to songs that I probably wouldn't have given a second chance," she says. "I don't know if I would have chosen a song like Don't Rush if I hadn't experienced being in love and if I hadn't gone through what the song is talking about."
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