Hamilton has been part of the zeitgeist since it premiered in 2015. A biographical musical of first treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton (the guy on the $10 bill) using a mostly rap, hip-hop, and R&B score to tell the story. Originally conceived by creator/star/genius Lin-Manuel Miranda as a hip-hop “mixtape” before becoming a more traditional Broadway musical, once the show reached its tremendous level of popularity, Miranda stripped it back to its mixtape roots.
Some seriously high-profile singers were approached to re-record and reinterpret songs from the show for what became The Hamilton Mixtape. All of the covers of the songs from the show are amazing, but if there is one that hits you right in the feels, it’s singer Kelly Clarkson’s version of the song “It’s Quiet Uptown.” If you’re not at least tearing up by the end of the song, you have may have no soul.
I’m a huge blubbering mess at the end of it. Every time. And judging by the internet comments sections, I’m not alone. I’m a huge Hamilton fan, so I knew exactly what was coming in terms of content. But nothing prepares you for the raw emotion that only Kelly Clarkson is capable of imparting.
— Sa'iyda Shabazz (@xoxSai) November 4, 2016
For those who either don’t like musicals or live under a rock, the song is an emotional turning point for Alexander Hamilton after a major death in the family. Working with some already sad raw material, Kelly Clarkson does what she does best: draws on that raw emotion and then sucker punches you right in the feels with it.
Clarkson’s version of the song was released ahead of the full Mixtape, and she performed it live several times as a way to promote the album. Anyone who is a Kelly Clarkson fan, or has heard her sing live, knows that she performs with the rawest emotion and powerhouse vocals that she can muster up.
Listening to her sing “It’s Quiet Uptown” on a recording had me sobbing in the middle of my couch. Hearing her sing it live wrecked me — like, tore my heart into a million little pieces and threw them up in the air like confetti.
When she was approached to sing on The Hamilton Mixtape, Kelly Clarkson knew nothing about Hamilton. She lives in Nashville, and apparently word of the show’s popularity hadn’t reached her little pocket of the world yet. Heavily pregnant with her son Remington, she agreed, but definitely had no idea what she was getting herself into.
“I was a complete mess, but I was like, ‘It’s beautiful. I’ll try and do it, but I can’t promise you I can get through the dang thing,’” she said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. When they then asked her to sing it again live, she was understandably apprehensive because of the emotional nature of the song. And as many of us Kelly Clarkson fans know, if she’s feeling the emotions, she will start crying while she’s singing. “If you know the scenario from the musical, [the song] is hard to swallow,” she adds.
Given that she had already cried on live television when singing her hit song “Piece by Piece” on American Idol, she wasn’t sure if she could handle getting that emotional again. But she did, and it was gut-wrenchingly, heart-achingly beautiful. I’m telling you, I get wrecked from the recorded version. But the live version may have actually killed me. Like, I might be typing this from the grave. Watch the video above already.