“Red Flag Collector” by Kelly Clarkson
“Red Flag Collector” is a song that was officially released on 9 June 2023. Apparently it is the fourth single from Clarkson’s tenth studio album, as three other singles (or more technically four, since “Mine” and “Me” was a joint release) have already been issued from that project.
Said LP, which is titled “Chemistry”, is backed by Atlantic Records.
Jason Halbert, who has been down with Kelly throughout her professional career, is the producer of this track, and he also co-wrote it with Jaco Caraco and Clarkson herself.
The Lyrics of “Red Flag Collector”
The teasing of this song dates back to 2021, in a way. That’s when Kelly Clarkson first apparently used the term “red flag collector” in public. At the time, she even joked that she was on the verge of giving one of her albums that title. But she also implied what the term means, which is failing to see the early warning signs, i.e. red flags, in a toxic relationship.
And that’s important to note, because this song never goes about clarifying what its title means. The term “red flag collector” is only mentioned once, in the final line of the outro and in a manner which, to reiterate, doesn’t really clarify its meaning.
But that said, what the featured narrative obviously speaks to is something like a divorce. And the first verse in particular does insinuate that before the apparently recent demise of their relationship, the vocalist was not really aware that the addressee could be as grimy as he has proven to be since.
Most notably this individual, someone whom Kelly once shared her life with, is now going ‘dragging her name’ in the dirt and furthermore, as implied, in a manner that makes him look like the man. And this is besides it also being inferred that the two of them are going through a messy breakup, the types of which they have to divide possessions and bank accounts. And the other party is basically depicted as being a feen in that regard, someone whom the vocalist is letting take things at will in the name of expeditiously getting rid of him.
“As you run your mouth, puff your chest
Play cowboy in the wild, wild west
I don’t mind, you know best
Keep on ridin’ ’til you can’t see us
Did you know there’s only one truth?
And in the end you have to live with what you do”
The interesting thing, of course, is that Clarkson did recently go through a divorce earlier this decade. At the end of the day, her ex, non-celebrity Brandon Blackstock, did walk away a lot richer, scoring $1.3 million from Kelly, in addition to monthly child support payments of over $45,000 and spousal support payments of $115,000 per month up until January 2024.
So obviously, when the singer did get to first referencing “red flags” in 2021, she was more than likely referring to their relationship. Therefore, it wouldn’t be out of the way to postulate that this song was also inspired by their divorce.
In fact by the looks of things, even though said divorce was finalized over a year ago, the pair are still going at it in court, with Kelly recently making veiled public disses against both her former husband and his father. And as also relayed in the bridge of “Red Flag Collector”, the addressee is someone whom she would rather go his separate way, “far, far away”, rather than remaining a thorn in her side.