For ex- Idol Kelly Clark­son, be­ing in love means sac­ri­fic­ing the trade­mark angst in her songs, writes Cameron Adams

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A happy dilemma

MEN of the world can un­clench: Kelly Clark­son is in love.

But the woman fa­mous for bad- boyfriend­ber­at­ing an­thems Since U Been Gone and Never Again has a prob­lem: her new songs are full of rain­bows and joy.

It’s un­charted ter­ri­tory for the US per­former. ‘‘ It’s a lit­tle dif­fer­ent,’’ Clark­son says. ‘‘ I’m too damn happy! I can’t write any­thing de­press­ing.’’

Clark­son ( pic­tured) has been dat­ing Bran­don Black­stock since Fe­bru­ary. His fa­ther, Narvel, is Clark­son’s man­ager; his step­mother is coun­try mu­sic su­per­star Reba McEn­tire.

When they met, Black­stock was mar­ried, but both were sin­gle when they re­con­nected at this year’s Su­perbowl, at which Clark­son sang the na­tional an­them.

She says that, like his fa­ther, Nashville­based Black­stock is a south­ern gen­tle­man: ‘‘ I wouldn’t date him if he wasn’t’’.

Black­stock is also in the busi­ness. He man­ages coun­try singer Blake Shel­ton, so he un­der­stands her crazy- busy sched­ule.

But while her per­sonal life is hunky- dory, the singer ad­mits cre­at­ing pos­i­tive songs that aren’t cheesy is her new chal­lenge.

‘‘ It’s re­ally hard to write happy songs that don’t make you want to vomit,’’ she says.

So far she has come up with one that doesn’t make her lose her lunch.

‘‘ There is one, but it’s me, so there’s a dark twist on it. It’s kind of a dark twist to be­ing happy. We’ll see if it works.’’

Clark­son is the first to poke fun at the ob­ses­sion over her weight fluc­tu­a­tions. It was a theme of her Mr Know It All video.

The lat­est head­line on the is­sue was ‘‘ Dat­ing made me get fit’’.

‘‘ Which is so in­sult­ing to my in­tel­li­gence,’’ Clark­son says.

‘‘ But I don’t re­ally care. The fun­ni­est part is peo­ple say ‘ Oh my God, how did you do it?’ like it’s rocket sci­ence. You just eat bet­ter and work out. What do you think I’m do­ing?’’

Clark­son is in the midst of a re­turn to tele­vi­sion, 10 years af­ter she won the in­au­gu­ral Amer­i­can Idol.

She’s on new US show Duets with John Leg­end, Robin Thicke and Su­gar­land’s Jen­nifer Net­tles.

They se­lect new tal­ent across Amer­ica and per­form duets with them.

‘‘ It’s fun; it’s sort of the same con­cept of how I got into the busi­ness,’’ Clark­son says.

‘‘ It’s cool to come back, 10 years later, and help ‘ me’ back then out again.’’

Clark­son was a guest men­tor on the US ver­sion of The Voice along­side Shel­ton, but turned down of­fers to judge on tal­ent shows.

‘‘ I didn’t want to be a judge per se. With Duets they said you won’t be judg­ing, you’ll be a part of the com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘ So I have to walk the walk and not just talk it. I like that.’’

Clark­son says TV is cru­cial for break­ing new tal­ent, with ra­dio tak­ing less risks.

‘‘ TV is the new form of artist de­vel­op­ment. The mu­sic in­dus­try doesn’t have as much money as it used to. If you don’t hit it right off the bat, you get dropped.

‘‘ It’s com­ing back around. In Frank Si­na­tra and Dean Martin’s day they had ra­dio con­tests, that’s how a lot of them got their start. It’s just on TV right now. TV is the most pow­er­ful medium now.’’

Un­like many pop stars, Clark­son co- writes most of her ma­te­rial. She al­ready has the ‘‘ blue­print’’ of songs for her sixth al­bum af­ter last year’s Stronger, which spawned her first Aus­tralian No. 1, Mr Know It All, and her third US No. 1, Stronger ( What Doesn’t Kill You).

There’s an army of songs she wrote but never used float­ing around mu­sic pub­lish­ers. One, Tell Me A Lie, wound up on One Di­rec­tion’s Up All Night al­bum, but only af­ter some re­search.

When she heard Si­mon Cow­ell wanted her song for his boy band, Clark­son swung im­me­di­ately into ac­tion.

‘‘ I’m re­ally pro­tec­tive of my songs, be­cause usu­ally it’s my life I’m writ­ing about,’’ she says. ‘‘ I don’t want some­one who’s go­ing to suck singing them. So I

I’m too damn happy! I can’t write any­thing de­press­ing

YouTubed the heck out of One Di­rec­tion. They sounded re­ally good.

‘‘ It was be­fore they were re­ally fa­mous; I didn’t know who they were but I liked the fact they were solo artists who came to­gether on [ the UK] X Fac­tor.’’

It has turned out to be a nice earner for Clark­son, and she likes a male take on her lyrics. ‘‘ I thought it was a to­tal girl song but it works re­ally well. I love what they did with it.’’

Clark­son is about to go on an Amer­i­can tour, with soft rock­ers The Fray open­ing for her. They’ll then fol­low her to Aus­tralia in Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, with Voice fi­nal­ist Sarah De Bono also on the bill.

The set list in­cludes a sec­tion where Clark­son’s band gets to pick a song.

‘‘ We learn a new song ev­ery day, one of my songs or any­one’s songs,’’ Clark­son says. ‘‘ When I come to Aus­tralia they could pick Delta Goodrem or Go­tye. There’s a lot of great mu­sic, I might as well sing it all.’’

With a string of hits since her last tour, she’s work­ing out how to in­clude them all.

‘‘ Twit­ter and Face­book give you an idea of what songs peo­ple are latch­ing on to and which ones they aren’t,’’ Clark­son says.

‘‘ It is get­ting harder to get all my hits in one show, but that’s an in­cred­i­bly, frickin’ good prob­lem to have.’’

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