Chemistry is the tenth studio album by American singer Kelly Clarkson. It was released on June 23, 2023, through Atlantic Records. The album is produced by Clarkson's longtime collaborators, Jason Halbert and Jesse Shatkin, as well as newcomers Erick Serna and Rachel Orscher. The album features collaborations with Steve Martin and Sheila E..
Chemistry illustrates "the arc of an entire relationship", showing every emotion you experience from the beginning to the end.
Clarkson started working on the follow-up to her 2017 album, Meaning of Life, in 2019. In June 2020, she announced her divorce from husband Brandon Blackstock. Prior to the divorce, she described the album as if Breakaway (2004) and Stronger (2011) had a baby, and more like Meaning of Life. When she appeared on Sunday Today with Willie Geist in September 2020, she then described the album as every emotion you experience from the beginning to the end of a relationship. She calls it the most personal one she has ever released, and it has been therapeutic for her. Clarkson mentioned she had written around sixty songs while going through her divorce.
In a September 2022 interview with Variety, Clarkson talked about the album. She said she had been working on it for two years; it was an important one, and a lot of the songs were recorded two years earlier (2020). When the divorce happened, she needed to write about it. She told her label, "I can't talk about this until I've gone through it," and it's just taken some time to do that. That's one of the reasons we've done a lot of the Christmas stuff the past two years – because I was like, "Well, that's happy!" Describing the record, she says, "And it's not all bad – like, there is heartbreak in it, and there is sadness in it."
In January 2023, during an Instagram live, she mentioned she had just done the album photo shoot with Brian Bowen Smith. While appearing on Angie Martinez's Angie Martinez IRL podcast, Clarkson mentioned one of the songs on the album is called "Red Flag Collector".
Recording and production
Clarkson recorded most of the album in 2020. Two of Clarkson's frequent collaborators, Jason Halbert and Jesse Shatkin, returned to produce this album along with newcomers Eric Serna and Rachel Orscher.
Clarkson wrote on all but two of the fourteen tracks. The second song "Me" was first written by Gayle and Josh Ronen. They wrote the first verse and chorus. When Clarkson told Atlantic that she was a fan of Gayle's they told her that she was their artist. Atlantic then sent Clarkson the song. In one night, Clarkson finished the rest of the song. Clarkson, Jesse Shatkin, and Carly Rae Jepsen wrote the seventh song "Favorite Kind of High". Before it was given to Clarkson, Jepsen wrote the track to it, with Clarkson writing the lyrics and melody when she was given it. One of the happier songs on the album, it is described as a "sexy-ass song" and how it's about "that high when you first see someone and you're like 'Oh, shit.'"
"Red Flag Collector", written by Clarkson, Halbert, and her guitarist Jaco Caraco, begins with a western saloon style vibe with a guitar strum and whistling (from Caraco). The song then takes a more rock turn. A whip can be heard throughout the song, and trumpets are added halfway through. In the bridge, the western saloon style briefly returns with the piano.
The thirteenth track, "I Hate Love", which Clarkson describes as a pop-punk track, features Steve Martin on banjo. Clarkson references Martin in the song which gave her to the idea for Martin to play banjo on it. Sheila E. plays drums on the last song "That's Right."
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