My fascination with Kelly begins long before any blog post and after her win on American Idol. I want everyone to know that I have seen, at most, one clip of that show on YouTube, and that was because some one (Thanks Hill) emailed it to me. But I digress…
I stumbled on a mash-up of Since U Been Gone and it was on constant rotation for about a month. Then I heard about the Ted Leo cover of Since U been Gone. That is still on rotation. I figured that for $0.99 I can own the real thing.
To my surprise, I found that I really liked it.
So here I am, listening to Since U Been Gone at work, and Kelly gets a mention Shannon’s Blog and in Slate. Fate was conspiring for me to give Kelly Clarkson another listen. Armed with recommendations and a the secret track, I gave Kelly’s new album a listen–much to the amusement to my friends and family.
As a disclaimer, I find myself agreeing with the Mixing Desk’s opinion regarding Kelly. I don’t want her to be upset at stupid boys. I want her to shout out how she’s better off with out them. Hell, I want to sing with her about how stupid her exes were–it makes me feel better about mine. That was always part of Kelly’s appeal. However, I think an artist should try broadening his or her horizons. If this is what Kelly wants to do, then by all means, she should try it out.
My review will summarize my take on each track ending with an over all review of said album. The more the song catches my attention, the more I find myself humming, whistling or singing it, the more positive the song.
The review is after the jump.
Edit: Now with Bonus Track Goodness!
1) Never Again:
The album opens with this an attack on an ex–and it sounds like this guy deserved it. Kelly’s gloating here, pointing out how successful she has become and how she doesn’t need him (or trust him). She is, in my opinion, not gloating from a position of strength but of bitterness. This is something I can identify with.
It didn’t really grab me. The opening hook seems pretty standard to me and it lacked a lot of energy that I think Kelly can deliver. What keeps me interested in this song is Kelly’s voice. Regardless of her song writing abilities, she can sing. I think if I was going through a break up, I’d appreciate this song more. Right now, this song gets a solid C.
2) One Minute
I see kids at Zero Gravity going nuts to a remix of this song. Even my guilty pleasure of Synthpop and Europop cannot make me like this song. Its boring. The lyrics do not grab me, Kelly’s voice just doesn’t provoke a reaction from me. I think I am just too old to like it. I give it a D-
Every twenty-nothing ponders nihilism. At first, I thought that this song was Kelly’s take on it. Upon reviewing the lyrics, this screams “Major Clinical Depression” to me. This is a pretty common theme through all popular music, Kelly’s just pretty obvious about he feelings on this. The lyrics are direct and to the point. There is no poetry here, just a straight forward statement of her feelings. I do not think that that is as sophisticated as many other lyricists–but then again, I do not think that that is important to Kelly. What matters is the emotion that she wants to get across. I can see the appeal to the song, but it is not something I would keep in rotation. I would give it a C-.
I am keeping this track in rotation. This song easily summarizes ever break up I’ve ever had; specifically, the point in time where it hits me that its over, where I second guess my decision to end the relationship (yeah, 9/10, I end it). I find the lyrics sad and sweet, but not saccharine. I have found myself humming along too–so Sober gets a B.
5) Don’t Waste Your Time
I found this track to be so generic it was a waste of time. It smacks of filler to me. Bah. I expect this song to be on heavy rotation on The Mix. F.
They reviewed this track on the Slate Podcast. I did not care for it then and I do not care for it now. The song had some promise, but it just fails to delivery. I respect that fact that this album is all about those who have betrayed Kelly, but there is nothing to really distinguish tis betrayal from the ones being redressed in the other tracks. Even standing alone, the song just screams about another typical betrayal. It gets a D-.
This part of the album is a slump. There is nothing impressive about this song either. It sounds like it belongs at the end credits of some Lifetime Made For TV Movie. At least Kelly is trying–An A for effort, an F for content. The end result? D-
8) Be Still
My first girlfriend really enjoyed that Bryan Adams song, “everything I do, I do it for you.” I think she would have loved this song too. It soft, saccharine and boring. Personally, I just could not wrap my head around it. What saves this song from failing completely is Kelly’s voice. D-.
I don’t get this song–it never caught my ear when I just listened to the album. When I did my song by song listen through, I had to look at the lyrics. It sounds like this is Kelly’s statement of, “It’s not you, its me…but as screwed up as I am, I don’t need help. I just need space.” I’ve used that line before and its been used on me. It was a lie in both situations–and I think Kelly’s not being too honest here either. Still, there is something to the song. There is a certain sense of longing I can identify with, if not completely groove to. I give it a C.
10) How I Feel
For being, “Broken and Sad” this song is very uppity. If there was more guitar, I’d be a great little power-pop song. I found it to be the musical equivalent of a candy bar–sweet and fun, but full of empty calories. C+
Even on my casual listen through, this song caught my attention. The music itself was completely different from the rest of the album. Its bluesy, suggestive and I enjoyed it. The lyrics did not make a big impact on me, but Kelly showed off more of her talent here. I’d give it a B-
12) Can I Have A Kiss*
I have a problem with self-depreciation, “I’m unworthy/I can see you’re above me/But I can be lovely given the chance.” I get it–I’ve felt that way innumerable times–but I can only take so much. The song is hopeful, if a bit cynical, so I really do identify with it. The problem I had with the song is its placement on the album. The filler tracks wore me down. On a separate listen, I did enjoy the song. It is very much a song for a geek with a romantic streak. B
I prefer the Indigo Girls, Hey Jesus to this track. The message is pretty much the same, but the Indigo Girls make sense. Kelly, in this song, just sounds too adolescent to me. It is pretty, and I do like pretty, so I pass it with a C-
Now the Hidden Track, Chivas*, is a gem.
I enjoyed the crackly sound quality, the understated vocals and guitar. The lyrics are fantastic. She is being bitter and snarky, but in a way that I identify with. Next time I have a glass of scotch, I’ll make it a double and dedicate it to Chivas. A.
14) Bonus Track: Dirty Little Secret
Unfortunately, this track has to be purchased over at iTunes Music Store. Musically, this is a departure from the rest of the CD. More guitars, bass and drums. A tad more blues and soul without losing her pop-princess status. The bonus track is definitely my second favorite song on the album. A
Overall, I would have to give the album a C. There is some filler, one solid gem and few diamonds in the rough. In that regard, I agree with the Slate review. I will definitely give Kelly’s next album the benefit of the doubt.
*These songs were recommended