Kelly Clarkson customized her set list and paid tribute to Oklahoma’s Blake Shelton, one of her fellow coaches on NBC’s “The Voice,” during her concert Friday night at Tulsa’s BOK Center.
Midway through the show, during a segment broadcast live on Clarkson’s Facebook page, she performed the song “Boys ‘Round Here,” a hit for Shelton in 2013.
“When I saw that we are coming to Oklahoma, I thought I have to do a Blake Shelton song,” Clarkson told an appreciative BOK Center crowd. “But I want to tell you what. It’s hard to pick just one because he’s got like a billion No. 1s. ... I’m like over here working my tail off. Brother is just pooping out No. 1s left and right. I don’t even get it. I’m like, what? I do get it, though. His songs are so good so it was really hard for me to pick one.”
Clarkson said she wanted to choose a song that the crowd can have fun with and a song that would also “kind of dig a little” with Shelton “because that’s how I am with him. He probably can’t stand me, but no one can stand their sisters, right?”
Before revealing which Shelton song she selected, she indicated that she tweaked the song. She said she noticed there is a lot of “guy talk” in Shelton songs and she wanted to hear about some girls. Said Clarkson, “I changed his song up and I’m just going to tell you the truth about some southern girls right here.”
She then dove into the modified rendition of “Boys Round Here,” substituting red lips for rednecks in the lyrics.
“That was for you, Blake,” Clarkson said after finishing the song. “Seriously he has got one of the baddest catalogs. Man, it is so good.”
Clarkson said she had been looking forward to the Tulsa show because she is “such a fan” of Shelton.
“He’s one of the main reasons why I wanted to do ‘The Voice. He’s so much fun to work with, He’s a rad dude. You all raise them good here apparently in Oklahoma. You do a good job.”
When the crowd cheered in approval of her words, she added, “Yes. I mean, hell, you all have got like Reba (McEntire). You have got Garth (Brooks). There are a ton of people from here.”
A ton of people demonstrated they enjoyed Clarkson’s visit to Tulsa by singing along to her songs and dancing. She didn’t just sing to the audience. She connected. You’ve probably been to a concert where unnamed superstar artist came off as trying to be some sort of higher species. Clarkson, born and raised in Texas, was engaging in a manner that made you feel like she was just glad to be barefoot and hanging out with her Oklahoma peeps.
Clarkson set a have-fun tone early by saying this: “There’s a lot of division in our country right now. I don’t want any of that here. This is escapism. This is music. It’s supposed to be fun. It’s all-inclusive, so everybody have a good time tonight. Whatever is stressing you out right now or whatever is stressing me out right now is gone.”
Like Shelton, Clarkson has a dynamic catalog. She cherry-picked it for a set list, sprinkled in an ample dose of songs from her newest album (Meaning of Life was released in 2017) and got theatric during the encore, performing “It’s Quiet Uptown” from “Hamilton” and “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman.” (She tackled “Never Enough” on “The Greatest Showman: Reimagined,” a re-recording of the soundtrack with artists putting their own spin on songs.)
The set began with “A Moment Like This,” Clarkson’s debut single after she won “American Idol” and the top-selling single of 2002. The show-closer was “Since U Been Gone,” a high-energy smash from 2004. The chart-topping singles “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” and “My Life Would Suck Without You” were of course part of the show along with top-10 songs like “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” “Breakaway” and “Miss Independent,” which, on this night, was the result a collaborative effort.
Brynn Cartelli and Kelsea Ballerini, who opened for Clarkson, returned to the stage and joined her for a triple-threat version of “Miss Independent,” the final song before the encore. Clarkson coached Cartelli to first place during season 14 of “The Voice” and Ballerini, whose album “Unapologetically” earned a Grammy nomination for best country album, was a bonus coach on season 15 of “The Voice.” They weren’t the only alums of the show to share the BOK Center stage with Clarkson. D.R. King, who competed in season 14, joined her to perform “Run Run Run.”
“It’s really cool to be able to just work with these incredibly talented people that deserve a chance, and rightly so,” Clarkson said. “They are so talented. Also, my band y’all. I know that you come to see like the artist that is on the poster or whatever, but please know that everybody backing up Kelsea, Brynn and myself -- (or) Beyonce and Justin Timberlake or whoever you are going to go see, the band is incredible, so please give it up for my band.”
Clarkson also plugged her upcoming talk show during the concert. She said she loves to talk.
The star of this show was Clarkson’s voice. It’s a voice that carried her to the throne of the inaugural “American Idol” competition in 2002 and it’s a voice that wowed a crowd in Tulsa.
Clarkson was of course introduced to a national TV audience on the reality show, but reality was reflected in her facial expressions Friday night: She often flashed a wide smile at the end of songs. She’s still winning.