The words “Careless Whisper” and Kelly Clarkson seem almost like an oxymoron, given how the latter has made her name off of sharing her larger than life vocal belt with the world. Nevertheless, the hit George Michael classic was her song of choice on the latest installment of Kellyoke on the Tuesday (June 7) episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show.
Taking the blue-lit stage with her band Y’all, Clarkson’s rendition of the song was as easy-going and as jazzy as the original — with one important distinction. The three-time Grammy winner’s ensemble chose to go without a saxophonist, instead opting to have a smooth-playing guitarist take over the now-iconic “Careless Whisper” sax melody.
“We could have been so good together, we could have lived this dance forever,” Clarkson sang, her voice becoming more and more intense with each word. “But now, who’s gonna dance with me? Please stay.”
Written by Michael in collaboration with his Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley, “Careless Whisper” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks — a feat only overshadowed by Michael’s “Faith,” which reigned the chart for four weeks and was actually covered by Clarkson on Kellyoke earlier this year. The track was released in 1984 as part of the duo’s 1984 record Make It Big — which topped the Billboard 200 for three weeks.
Michael, who passed away in 2016, revealed in his autobiography, Bare, the real-life story that inspired “Careless Whisper,” which he conceptualized while riding a public bus. According to him, the song was about his regrets over cheating on his girlfriend as a teenager.
“I did feel guilty about the first girl – and I have seen her since – and the idea of the song was about her,” he wrote. “‘Careless Whisper’ was us dancing, because we danced a lot, and the idea was – we are dancing…but she knows…and it’s finished.”
Watch Kelly Clarkson perform George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” below.