The Story Behind Kelly Clarkson’s Feisty “My Life Would Suck Without You”

Kelly Clarkson was in a challenging place when “My Life Would Suck Without You” crossed her path in 2009. At the time, Clarkson was at odds with the head of her then-record label RCA Records, Clive Davis, as she was forced to work with hit songwriter and producer Dr. Luke, who co-wrote her previous hits “Since U Been Gone” and “Behind These Hazel Eyes.”

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“I was so frustrated because I literally said, ‘Anyone in the world but this one person. I will work with anyone you want to put in my path,'” she said about Dr. Luke (via Entertainment Tonight). “I love people. But it was just this one thing and I asked to not work with Dr. Luke, just because I had not a good experience working with him. It was just one thing, and they just wouldn’t even give it to me.” (For a decade, Dr. Luke was in a legal battle with Kesha after she sued him in 2013 for sexual assault and battery, gender violence, and more. The two reached a settlement this past June.)

Despite Clarkson’s pushback to working with Dr. Luke, she did contribute lyrically to “My Life Would Suck Without You”—which was also written by Max Martin and Claude Kelly—but refused to take credit so that her name wouldn’t be associated with Dr. Luke’s. The pop-rock song became another hit for Clarkson, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top 10 on multiple dance charts. Below, Kelly explains how the song came together and why he knew it would be a hit.

The Story Behind the Song

“Kelly Clarkson is a good example of creating a space for artists to be comfortable. She was at odds with Clive Davis. She was unhappy with her treatment at the label, so she was very hesitant to get back in the studio,” Kelly recalled. “She had worked with Luke before on the album before with ‘Behind These Hazel Eyes’ and ‘Since You’ve Been Gone,’ so there was history there. I was the newbie, so it worked in my favor because she attached a lot of bad experiences to the label and to the production side, so I got to be the person that came in was like, ‘I’ll come and record and I have no prior beef with anyone. Let’s just go in the studio together and have a good time.’

[RELATED: Did You Know? Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” Was Originally Written for P!nk]

“We had her for a day,” he continued. “It was a song that me, Luke, and Max Martin worked on that I knew was a hit as soon as I heard Max Martin’s idea—he’s like the melody king. She came in for a day and that song is not easy to sing. It’s high, it’s rangy, it’s rock, and it has attitude. She came in and did that whole song in an afternoon and that was it—that was the vocal. It was one of those things where I was like, ‘If I’m in a studio with one of the best singers in the world, I’m gonna make sure I make the most of it.’ And the rest is history. The song came out and blew up, it went to No. 1. It was just an honor to be a part of a singer who I thought was dope from the first time I heard her on American Idol. Kelly is the first [Idol winner], so it’s cool.”

On How He Knew It Would Be a Hit:

“Max has a good track record, so if he calls you [it’s] like, ‘This might do OK’ [laughs]. If him and Luke call, you know it’s a good chance,” Kelly added. “Another part is that I also have good taste in music. I heard many songs that I didn’t think were special, but that one I was like, ‘This one has something to it and I can add something to it.’ So a lot of the lyrics and stuff were me really plugging away at making it Kelly’s personality.”

Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

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