"Miss Independent" is a song recorded by American singer Kelly Clarkson for her debut studio album Thankful (2003). Written by Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Rhett Lawrence, and Matt Morris, with Lawrence serving as producer, it was released as the album's lead single by RCA Records on April 10, 2003. The track was initially intended for Aguilera's fourth album, Stripped (2002), but was left half-finished. Lawrence later continued writing the song with Clarkson, who eventually recorded it.
"Miss Independent" is a R&B-styled pop song, whose lyrics tell of a story of an independent woman who finally allows herself to lower her emotional and communication barriers to fall in love. Its theme of self-sufficiency would later served as a template for Clarkson's subsequent releases. The song generally received positive response from music critics, while criticism targeted the song's similarity to Aguilera's material. "Miss Independent" gave Clarkson her first Grammy nomination in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category at the 46th Grammy Awards in 2004.
The song's commercial success helped in presenting Clarkson's "girl next door" image to the public and contributed in eliminating her "American Idol" persona. In the United States, it peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Pop Songs chart. Internationally, it also attained a top-ten position in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). The song's accompanying music video was directed by Liz Friedlander, and featured Clarkson singing at a house party. Clarkson premiered the song during the second season of American Idol, and has included it in set lists in most of her concert tours.
American record producer Rhett Lawrence first offered the early work of the song, titled "Miss Independence", to American R&B trio Destiny's Child whom later turned down the offer to record the song. Lawrence then collaborated with Christina Aguilera and Matt Morris to record "Miss Independence" for Aguilera's fourth studio album Stripped (2002). Aguilera, who co-wrote the track, ultimately decided not to include it for the album, leaving it half-finished without the bridge.
Lawrence, Clarkson's then manager Simon Fuller and music mogul Clive Davis suggested that Clarkson finish writing "Miss Independence", and record it for her debut album Thankful (2003). One of Clarkson's A&R managers, Keith Naftaly, suggested to re-title it as "Miss Independent". It was one of four songs on Thankful that Clarkson co-wrote, the others being "The Trouble With Love Is", "You Thought Wrong" and "Thankful". The song was released by RCA Records on April 10, 2003, ten days ahead of the Thankful’s release. In 2009, it was made available for purchase as a downloadable content (DLC) for the Rock Band, Rock Band 2, and Lego Rock Band video games.
In an interview on Total Request Live, Aguilera revealed that upon hearing Clarkson's version of the track, she became miffed that RCA, which was also her record label, decided to release it without her permission - however she also praised Clarkson's vocal performance. She told Clarkson on the air, "if the song was to go to anyone I'm glad that it went to you because you gave it justice." In 2010, Clarkson told the Bournemouth Daily Echo that "I had to argue with the record label to the point of literally crying to get "Miss Independent" on the album, then they released it as my debut single and it was a hit."
"Miss Independent" is a R&B-styled pop song. Katherine St Asaph of Popdust noted that "it’s the closest Kelly Clarkson’s come to R&B." Clarkson credited that Aguilera's rhythmic style has heavily influenced the song. She remarked, "You can hear a lot of her influence in "'Miss Independent", especially the hook. And once you hear the song, it's constantly in your head. Believe me, I cannot get it out!" Rachell Kipp of Associated Press wrote that "Miss Independent" "sounds like a half-baked remake of Aguilera's "Dirrty" (2002)" The song has a length of three minutes and 35 seconds and is written in the key of D major, Clarkson's vocal range spans from F♯3 to F♯5.
The lyrics tells the story of an independent woman who was apprehensive about being in a relationship in fears of being rejected, she finally allows herself to break her emotional and communication barriers when she begins to fall in love. Clarkson revealed that she finds herself similar to the titular "Miss Independent". She said, "It's very funny when the song came into play with me ... 'cause at that certain time of my life, I was actually going through that kind of thing," Clarkson said. "I've always been real guarded about work and career. It wasn't even with, like, guy relationships, it was just, like, friends and just letting people in, you know? And so it was kinda weird 'cause I was going through that same thing at the same time, so it was very easy for me to write the bridge to the song."
"Miss Independent" received mixed to positive reviews from music critics, who lauded Clarkson for distancing herself from her American Idol persona, but criticism targeted the song's resemblance to some of the songs on Stripped— particularly on "Dirrty" and "Fighter" (2002). On its release, Brian Hiatt of Entertainment Weekly noted that "its hard R&B sound may shock fans who embraced the mellow "A Moment Like This." "Miss Independent" begins with Clarkson singing in a throaty moan over a bangin' hip-hop beat, then bursts into a power-chord-propelled, disco-diva chorus that's not unlike Britney Spears' "Stronger"." Rolling Stone wrote, ""A Moment Like This" was exactly the sort of treacly by-the-numbers ballad critics expected of a TV-contest winner; that's probably why its assertive follow-up, "Miss Independent," was such a surprise." AllMusic's senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that it "managed to make Kelly Clarkson seem younger and hipper without slutting her up like Christina Aguilera (who, ironically, co-wrote "Miss Independent," the first single from Thankful) while retaining a strong sense of melodic songcraft." Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine wrote that the song "gives Clarkson the youthful edge she desperately needs to balance out the Adult Contemporary goo of songs like "Anytime" and "A Moment Like This." Cinquemani also added, ""Miss Independent" is no "Dirrty," but it proves that if anyone can out-sing Aguilera, it's Clarkson." On March 5, 2013, Billboard ranked the it the number sixteen in its list of "Top 100 American Idol Hits of All Time".
Howard Cohen of The Baltimore Sun wrote, "The R&B-styled stomper "Miss Independent", sounds like the fat removed from Aguilera's meatier "Fighter" - which could well be the case, since she co-wrote both tunes." Elysa Gardner of USA Today was more critical of the song, calling it "breathless" and "colorless". She also added that the song "sounds less like the edgy, strong-but-vulnerable-woman number it purports to be than the Christina Aguilera throwaway it basically is." The song received a nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 2004 Grammy Awards, but lost out to Aguilera's "Beautiful". It was also nominated for Choice Summer Song at the 2003 Teen Choice Awards.
"Miss Independent" debuted at the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart at number 23 on the week ending May 3, 2003. It then debuted on the Pop Songs chart for the week ending May 10, 2003, eventually topping the chart for six weeks beginning on the week ending June 28, 2003. The song debuted on the main Billboard Hot 100 on the week ending May 17, 2003 at number 61, eventually reaching at number 9 on the week ending July 19, 2003, becoming her second Top Ten single in the United States. It also charted on Adult Pop Songs and Adult Contemporary charts at number 14 and number 28, respectively. The single's success came out at the time when the Billboard charts were relying to more R&B and rhythmic stations than pop stations. As of April 2010, "Miss Independent" has sold over 759,000 digital downloads in the United States. It was certified Gold by Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2006.
Internationally, the song also became a commercial success, becoming Clarkson's first single to chart outside of North America. In Australia, it debuted on the Australian Singles Chart at number 17 in August 2003, it eventually peaked at number 4 after Clarkson performed it at the 2003 NRL Grand Final at the Stadium Australia on October 5, 2003. It eventually became her highest-charting single in Australia along with "Since U Been Gone" (2004) before being overtaken by "Mr. Know It All", which topped the chart in 2011. In the United Kingdom, "Miss Independent" debuted at the UK Singles Chart in August 2003. It the Netherlands, the song debuted on the Dutch Top 40 at number 27, eventually peaking at number 9. The song also charted in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland.
The song's accompanying music video was filmed in Los Angeles by Liz Friedlander, who didn't know Clarkson at the time. Friedlander remarked, "Honestly, I never watched American Idol, so I didn't have a preconceived notion of her." She said about the video, "The song is explosive and young and has some cool electronic beats, so we took the visual style from the music." Clarkson added "It's gonna be more Kelly Clarkson the artist, not [Kelly Clarkson] from 'American Idol." The video features Clarkson performing at a house party in reverse, starting from the morning after and working its way back to the previous night, where she appears attracted to a "surfer" whom she keeps seeing in mirrors. Friedlander adds, "And in the end — maybe — they get together." It premiered on MTV on June 2, 2003. The video received three nominations at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards—Best New Artist in a Video, Best Pop Video, and Viewer's Choice Award.
Clarkson premiered "Miss Independent" on the second season of American Idol in May 2003. Throughout 2003, she performed it on various television events, including the inaugural season of Australian Idol, The Late Show with David Letterman, and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. She also performed the song in sports events, notably at the 2003 NRL Grand Final at the Stadium Australia on October 5, 2003. Since then, she has included the song in her set lists on tour, even naming her first co-headlining tour, the Independent Tour (20040, after the song. In 2012, she performed a medley of her songs at the 40th Anniversary American Music Awards, beginning with "Miss Independent", continuing to "Since U Been Gone", "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)", and "Catch My Breath".