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What the Lyrics of Kelly Clarkson's Hit "Miss Independent" Really Mean

The Kelly Clarkson Show host's 2003 single marked her first Grammy nomination.

By Elizabeth Logan

Don't misunderstand "Miss Independent," the belt-your-heart-out anthem about falling in love for the first time.

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The single, from Kelly Clarkson's first album, 2003's Thankful, netted the singer her first Grammy nomination in 2004, and remains a karaoke night favorite for its unforgettable tune and confident lyrics.

Here's what it's all about.

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What Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent" really means

The song tells the story of a woman who was very strong, but also guarded, who never felt like she needed a relationship, and didn't know how much she was missing. It's about the confusion of falling in love for the first time, realizing you are vulnerable because you are prioritizing another person, but deciding to go in "the new direction" because there's "no need to be defensive" when "love is true."

"What is the feelin' takin' over?," she sings. "Thinkin' no one could open my door. Surprise, It's time. To feel what's real."

She adds, "What happened to Miss Independent? No more the need to be defensive. Goodbye, old you. When love is true." 

Kelly Clarkson co-wrote "Miss Independent"

After she won American Idol, Clarkson was definitely known as an amazing singer. However, she still needed to convince record executives that she could write and produce, as well.

“My big first single was ‘Miss Independent,’ and I had to fight so hard to get that song on my record, like, with the guitars how I liked it and everything how I liked it,” Clarkson recalled to TODAY. “Everybody wanted me to do ballads...I was like, ‘No, I really like this song. I want to set up some kind of precedent.’ It was very important to me as an artist, and I got to write on it as well, which was important to me.”

The song was initially co-written by Matt Morris, Rhett Lawrence and former The Voice Coach Christina Aguilera, and was intended for Aguilera's 2002 album Stripped. However, after Aguilera passed on the track, it came Clarkson's way, she finished writing it, and the rest is history. 

"That song helped me as a writer,” Clarkson said on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. “I think everybody kind of knew me as a vocalist and not a songwriter at that point. So that paved the way for the ‘Because of You,’ the ‘(Behind These) Hazel Eyes.’ All those songs...”

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