Kelly Clarkson was not playing around in her latest Kellyoke performance. The three-time Grammy winner sang a fiery cover of Gayle‘s viral hit “abcdefu” on The Kelly Clarkson Show Thursday (March 30), after which fans were quick to notice that she’d made a few pointed lyric changes — which they believe are directed at her ex-husband, Brandon Blackstock.
Right from the start, Clarkson made the 2023 Grammy song of the year nominee her own, belting out tweaked lyrics as strobe lights and electric guitar raged behind her. “Forget you, and your dad, and the fact that you got half,” she sang, an immediate departure from the original words. “And my broken heart, turn that s–t into art.”
The “Stronger” singer later repeated those lines in place of the song’s chorus, which usually goes, “F–k you and your mom and your sister and your job/ And your broke a– car and that s–t you call art.”
The lyric change, particularly “the fact that you got half,” seemed indicative of Clarkson’s high profile 2022 divorce settlement with Blackstock, to whom she was married from 2013 to 2020 — at least, it did to fans, who also picked up on some extra passionate facial expressions and hand gestures the Voice coach added to the new Kellyoke cover. “The finger listing at the end, all the eyebrow raising…we see and hear you @kellyclarkson,” tweeted one fan in response to a video of the performance.
“Oh she real mad at Br*ndon!!” tweeted another.
“On the video’s YouTube page, more fans shared their belief that the singer was calling out her ex.
“‘the fact that you got half’ — yesss drag him!!!” wrote one viewer. “my broken heart, turn that bullsh*t into art — new album coming!”
“Kelly is putting Narvel and Brandon on some serious blast,” added another. Narvel is Blackstock’s dad, who is a producer and manager. The elder Blackstock was previously married to Reba McEntire for 26 years.
Billboard has reached out to Clarkson’s reps for comment.
Clarkson first filed to split from Brandon in June of 2020. In December of that year, she was granted primary custody of their two children, River and Remington. In March of 2022, the former couple finalized the terms of their divorce, with the American Idol alum agreeing to pay her ex $1.3 million in addition to monthly child support.
Her flaming new Kellyoke cover comes just a few days after Clarkson announced her next album Chemistry, which doesn’t yet have a confirmed release date. The record will explore the complicated emotions she experienced in the wake of her breakup and her adjustment to life as a single mom, as well as the evolution of her past relationship.
“I was trying to find a word, it might be one of the songs on the album, but I was trying to find a word that really described the whole thing,” she said while announcing the project Sunday (March 26). “I didn’t want everybody to think I was just coming out with some ‘I’m angry,’ ‘I’m sad’ — just one or two emotions. This album is definitely the arc of an entire relationship.”
Watch Kelly Clarkson cover Gayle’s “abcdefu” on The Kelly Clarkson Show below: