American Idol top two finalist Caleb Johnson just released his rockin' debut single, "As Long As You Love Me," penned by Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins. But it turns out another Idol almost recorded the tune: the one and only Kelly Clarkson.
"I wrote something for a bit of fun, and I think she liked it," Justin told Yahoo Music back in 2012, when the Darkness played in the Yahoo studio to promote their comeback album, Hot Cakes. "Kelly Clarkson had a song [of mine] on hold, but unfortunately, within the lyrics, it talks about my mustache. So it needs a slight rewrite. She liked the tune, but I'm not sure if she was really feeling the subject matter."
The key hairy lyrics Justin quoted at the time were: "Tell me, baby, did I pique your curiosity with the sweet wheels in my garage?/Do you love me for my money or my uniform, or do you only love me for my mustache?" Caleb's official version doesn't mention facial hair, actually, but the telltale "tell me, baby, did I pique your curiosity?" line remains intact.
"Well, I was definitely making assumptions about [Kelly's] lyrical requirements, because it's definitely from a manly perspective," Justin, who's currently at work on the fourth Darkness album, tells Yahoo Music this week. "And there was originally a mustache lyric in there. Yes, it's the same song. The song was considered by Kelly, but ultimately 'unexploited,' as we say in songwriting world. I was asked to modify the lyric for Caleb, and we lost the mustache line. I think [the mustache line] was something that works for me but nobody else!"
The song was actually recorded in 2012 by South African Idol runner-up Mark Haze (WITH the mustache line), although that version was never released in the States. Justin says Mark's version came after the Kelly interest and the song is still registered in his publishing portal as "unexploited," which prompted him to tweet this week, "Where are my royalties?"
Says Justin: "You could argue that Caleb's is a different song. There are subtle changes to the top-line melody and a sweeping rewrite of the lyric." As far as he knows, no Kelly Clarkson recording of the tune exists, though it'd certainly be interesting to hear what she would have done with it. But now, "As Long As You Love Me" really belongs to Caleb Johnson — with or without a "mustache."