It’s Kelly Clarkson’s first time hosting the Billboard Music Awards and she’s already killing it. Kelly Clarkson’s opening Billboard Music Awards song featured a medley of some of the most memorable Hot 100 tunes from the past year. She even showed off her surprisingly amazing rap skills by taking on Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.” and Cardi B and Bruno Mars’ “Finesse” while donning black shades and a matching black fur coat.
Her performance also included Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You," Sam Smith's "Too Good At Goodbyes," Shawn Mendes' "Nothing Holding Me Back," and Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do." Swift was shown singing along to "Nothing Holding Me Back" and laughing good-naturedly along to Clarkson's rendition of her 2017 hit. The whole crowd got into it, actually, giving Clarkson a standing ovation at the conclusion of her number.
At first, seeing Kelly Clarkson rapping might have been a bit surprising to most, but it’s actually not the pop star’s first rap performance. Back in 2012, Clarkson covered Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” in Eminem’s hometown of Detroit, dressed just like he does in 8 Mile. She also rap-sings in her song “Love So Soft.”
Even though she’s known for being one of the most influential current pop stars, Clarkson has long expressed her love for rap.
Back in January, she was asked by a fan during a Twitter Q&A which rappers she’d be interested in collaborating with. Clarkson responded with a long list, including Wiz Khalifa, Logic, Chance The Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, Jay Z, and Missy Elliot. Clearly she's put a lot of thought into this.
Missy Elliot responded sharing love for Clarkson’s choices, saying “Awww thank u @kelly_clarkson much love to you dope selection." (Um, can we make this happen already, please?)
Clarkson has often combined various genres in her music and her latest album, Meaning of Life, has a bit of everything. Variety reported that at a conference in Nashville last year, Clarkson spoke about wanting to create a fresh sound with a mix of genres, saying the album has a combo of “urban, pop, soulful R&B. My backup singers who’ve worked with me for years said ‘It’s the first time you’ve done a record that’s, like, full-on your personality.’”
After her show-stopping opening performance, Clarkson also sang the empowering song “Whole Lotta Woman” with a group of backup singers and a background featuring her album cover. This one was a bit less elaborate than her opening performance, focusing more on her incredible vocals. She has the same powerhouse voice she did way back when she won American Idol, and the crowd went wild for the number — singing along and dancing to the tune.
These days, Clarkson is actually on another singing reality show — The Voice. There, she's coaching a number of talented singers of all backgrounds and genres — so it's easy to see why mixing genres appeals to her. In that sense, doing a medley of a bunch of unique top hits was probably a no-brainer for her. She can probs mix melodies in her sleep.
The singer got the night off to an exciting start with her medley and kept the energy going late into the evening with her second performance. That's a lot of work for one host to do, but Clarkson nailed it — of course. It may have been her first foray into hosting, but the Billboard Music Awards would do well to invite her back — if not to host again, then at least to perform. Because, if that opening bit and her follow-up were any indication, there's no shortage of powerhouse performances up her sleeve.