In a blog post, Clarkson responded to recent comments by Big Machine Records’s Scott Borchetta, who told the Associated Press that the four-time Grammy winner "is the voice of this generation. She speaks directly to [her fans], and they speak directly back to her."
He added, "This is not American Idol. This is not a competition of getting up and seeing who can sing the highest note. This is about a true artist and writer and communicator."
In a letter addressed to Borchetta, Clarkson wrote that she understood why he would defend Swift – he said, "We had a volume problem in the ear ... She couldn't hear herself like she had in rehearsal" – but said she found it "upsetting" that he attacked the star-making TV show.
"We not only hit the high notes, you forgot to mention we generally hit the 'right' notes as well," the American Idol winner wrote.
Clarkson admitted that she, too, has had "shaky" performances, "and what my manager or label executives say to me and the public is 'I'll kick butt next time' or 'every performance isn't going to be perfect.' … I bring this up because you should take a lesson from these people and instead of lashing out at other artists (that in your 'humble' opinion lack true artistry), you should simply take a breath and realize that sometimes things won't go according to plan or work out and that's okay."
She signed the post, "One of those contestants from American Idol who only made it because of her high notes" – and added a winking smiley face.
Clarkson later Tweeted an assurance that she wasn't "dissing Taylor," and noted, "I buy her albums and cover her songs, obviously I'm a fan."
(Her rendition of Swift's "White Horse" can be heard on YouTube. She's also covered her song "Cold As You.")
Swift, who is currently on tour in Australia, has yet to join the public discussion, but Clarkson's fellow Idol winner David Cook seemed to appreciate the sentiments.
He Tweeted, "Kudos, @kelly_clarkson. Love it."