Kelly Clarkson has dubbed her first five years in music "hell".
The singer was catapulted to stardom after winning the very first season of American Idol in 2002. Since then she's gone on to release seven albums, with an eighth on the way, but has pointed out in a new interview that success doesn't necessarily equal happiness.
"I was tired and working with people who weren't good people. It made me miserable," Kelly told British newspaper Metro of her split from RCA Records, who she'd been with for 15 years. "The first five years of my career were just hell. Everybody wanted me to be something that I wasn't, look like something I wasn't, sing something I didn't want to sing.
"I wish I'd stockpiled these POS (pieces of s**t) songs that would come my way. They'd be like, 'This is going to be amazing', and I'm like, 'How come no one else has cut it, then?' We were very successful, I'm not pooh-poohing that but it doesn't mean happiness."
Kelly, 35, is now signed to Atlantic Records and is gearing up for her first release, Meaning of Life, under her new label in October (17).
She admits that her American Idol winner's song, A Moment Like This, is no longer "her jam", but Kelly is over the moon with her new material.
"At this point in my life, I'm not working with people I don't want to work with," the mother-of-two stated. "It's been an environment that's more productive, you know, constructive criticism. Everybody has been respectful and honest.
"This record, this whole experience, I don't even care if I'm successful because I'm so f**king happy."