By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter
Nearly five years have passed since singer Kelly Clarkson was catapulted to stardom after winning the first series of American Idol.
The new album is her "most intimate" to date, Clarkson says
As a child, Clarkson's favourite film was Jim Henson's gothic muppet fantasy Labyrinth.
The movie revolves around a young girl, Sarah Williams, who sets out to rescue her baby brother from David Bowie's fright-wigged goblin king.
At the climax, while being tormented in a wicked castle, Sarah cries: "You have no power over me" and the goblin king is defeated.
"I said that all the time when I was a kid," Clarkson laughs.
"I'd say it any time somebody didn't do what I wanted."
It's a phrase the 25-year-old pop star has found herself using in recent months as she battled for creative control of her career.
She parted ways with her manager and, days later, cancelled a US tour because of poor ticket sales.
Clarkson told fans the planned 36-date jaunt was "too much, too soon".
This followed a feud with her record label boss Clive Davis, who felt the darker, rockier sound of Clarkson's new album, My December, was a mistake.
Davis suggested at least three, more commercial, replacements for songs Clarkson had written - even offering a cash bonus if he got his way.
But his protegee put her foot down, and released the album the way she wanted, even though it meant significant delays.
"Everybody was like: 'Why would you take that option?'" she says. "And honestly it's because there's not another option.
"I'm set for life, I've made my money. I want to make sure I'm enjoying my music. Otherwise what's the point?"
Clarkson says the issue with her record label has been "blown out of proportion" in the press, but adds that such conflicts are not uncommon.
"It happens to everyone," she says. "I'm no different to any other artist."
The reason, the singer suggests, is that record companies have become "afraid" to take risks in the face of dwindling sales.
Clarkson won a Grammy award for her last album, Breakaway
"The music industry is kind of in a weird place right now," she says, "so I think people are definitely scared of any kind of artist development.
"People are really pressured by their bosses to make that bottom line every quarter."
Luckily for Clarkson, her gamble paid off , with first single Never Again charting in the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic.
The song, a guitar-laden kiss-off to an ex-boyfriend, reflects the edgier, more personal tone of the album.
"Oh, dude, it's the most bitter song I've ever written!" laughs the former American Idol, previously known for glossy pop songs like Miss Independent and Since U Been Gone.
"I wrote about something that happened years ago and I was confused, I was angry and I was humiliated."
She declines to embellish the details, but admits the record comes from a darker place than her previous Grammy-winning album Breakaway.
"It's the most intimate project I've done," she says.
"I write a lot on the road and literally every territory I went to on the last tour - regardless of whether it was the US, Australia, the UK or Japan - it was always winter.
Clarkson beat 10,000 other hopefuls to win American Idol
"It was like we followed winter around the globe! And I think it started messing with us.
"So that's why a lot of the record is kind of sad. I think I'm going to go to Bora Bora to write my next record!"
Clarkson divulges that work on her fourth album has already started, which will mark another departure in musical style.
"It's more like an acoustic country-blues-rock kind of thing," she says.
"What you can always expect from me is something different, and I think that's good."
Kelly Clarkson's album, My December, and single, Never Again, are out now.