July 28th, 2007 05:12 EST
Album Review: Kelly Clarkson's My December - Artist Freedom Vs. Quality Product
The original American Idol, Kelly Clarkson, has released her tumultuous third album, My December, to the dismay of her record company. When reports began to surface of disagreements over the new songs for her album, many fans united in being pro-Kelly. The higher ups wanted to bring in songwriters to tweak the record, but Kelly won out in the end, and co-wrote every song on her third release. Score one for the little guy. Rage against corporate music! Do it your way! Upon listening to the record, however, one might have to begrudgingly agree with the enemy.
"Never Again" could be called the pissed off version of "Since You Been Gone." It's more full of hurt, anger and attitude, with a rock edge. "One Minute" is a great pop song with a catchy chorus and danceable beat. "Hole" continues the harder edge, rock/pop that Clarkson has sunk into with this album, though it's not as catchy as the first two tracks, but still a good listen. "Sober," whether taken literally or not, definitely brings the mood down, with a slow tempo. The vocals are good but a bit strained and at times she seemed to be channeling Sinead O'Connor or Sarah McLachlan.
"Don't Waste Your Time" climbs back up with the tempo, and despite the repetitiveness, the lyrics are pretty good. "Judas" talks of deception from a close relationship. The song suffers with no real bridge or listening pay off. Emotional vocals are found in "Haunted." This tune is also pleasantly surprising lyrically, and has a hint of haunting sounds.
"Be Still" drops back down with a sleepy time love ballad. "Maybe" is plagued with verses that are too long, no real hook, strained pleading and repetitive bad rhyming. "How I Feel" is another go nowhere song. "Yeah" has an alluring saxophone that is under utilized. "Can I Have A Kiss" sounds more desperate than sexy. "Irvine" is another forgettable slow torture which leads into a secret hidden track, where Clarkson tries her best Joss Stone impression.
My December proves to be an avalanche of disappointment to music executives, especially the legendary Clive Davis, who has gone on record as saying that this album isn't up to snub. The negative aspect of Kelly Clarkson's new album is one that feeds into the corruption of the music industry. Moguls take over creative control, bringing in writers, musicians and beat makers for a hit record.
The idea of finding a fresh young face, feeding them a new image and flashy pop songs in the interest of earning millions of dollars, is a caveat that has been around for far too long. If there was any doubt of this whatsoever, just take a look at P.Diddy's search for yet another destined to fail 'band'. (Where is Dream, Da Band and Danity Kane today, Didd?) Still, there's a saying that goes "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." Clarkson would not have enjoyed the success of Breakway had it not have been for outside collaborators. The process sucks, but it is a means to an end.
The positive side of Clarkson's My December is that Kelly is taking a public stand on the direction of her music, although quite possibly to the detriment of her career. Clarkson won a singing competition. The girl has talent. Yet her vocal chops have suffered and aren't displayed at all to its capacity in My December. It's the kind of music that grows on you after awhile.
It's definitely no Breakaway, but it's not the disaster that should have caused Clarkson to cancel her tour in support of the album. She has said in interviews that it's an evolution and in a way, it is. She took charge, the talent's there, now some guidance needs to be given.
The disc leaves the reviewer between a rock and a hard place. Buy the album for the first three tracks. Get the album to complete your Kelly Clarkson's budding cd collection. Purchase the junior release to send a message. It is imperative to buy My December if for no other reason than to support the arts. Freedom of expression is important and must not be stifled in order to earn a buck. Find a good sale, and keep an open mind.