Red (Taylor’s Version) arrived with a selection of new songs from the vault, including the country ballad “Better Man” — and on the latest episode of the Kelly Clarkson show, the host selected the track as the latest pick for her Kellyoke singing segment. Clarkson’s version of the record was backed by her in-house band, the whole performance crew decked out in football jerseys.
Initially written to be included on Red, released in 2012, “Better Man” eventually landed in the hands of country music group Little Big Town, who shared their version in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the Grammy Awards for their recording. In 2022, Rolling Stone ranked “Better Man” as Swift’s 50th best song, out of 229.
“It was a song that I really thought belonged on the album, and there were just too many songs I loved that I had written in that period of time, so some of them had to be left off,” Swift told Amazon Music in 2021. “I think I chose ‘All Too Well’ over ‘Better Man.’ I think that was what happened. I was either going to put on ‘All Too Well’ or ‘Better Man,’ and then I left off ‘Better Man.'”
She added: “And then later on, years later, Little Big Town ended up recording that song and it went to #1, it won CMA Song of the year, it was nominated for a Grammy. That was insane. It was like the coolest thing ever, and I’m so grateful to them for doing that, and now I get to put out my version of it, so pretty fun moment.”
Clarkson’s performance of the song marks her first time selecting a Swift track for Kellyoke since the first season of the show, which is now in its fourth. In 2019, the true American Idol singer reworked “Delicate,” a single from 2017’s Reputation. A few months later, she ran through the Lover kiss-off “You Need to Calm Down.”
So far, this season has seen Clarkson perform records by Swift, Joji, Chris Stapleton, Dolly Parton, Third Eye Blind, and more.