Review : Kelly Clarkson - All I Ever Wanted
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The record label execs who objected to the emotionally loaded, tough-sell hard rock of 2007's "My December" are hoping for a massive, industry-saving hit. The critics who love her spunk but question her sensibility desire artful pop with a little bit of red meat. The "Idol" watchers and Top 40 listeners who made her a star in the first place want the perfect blend of sincerity and catchiness to lift their spirits during a year when nobody needs another breakup album....full text
EwHow does American Idol royalty abdicate the pop throne? Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson did so pretty handily with My December, the bleak follow-up to her 2004 chart monster Breakaway. That much-maligned ’07 release was her rebel yell — a dark, jagged collection that limped toward its single-platinum (oh, hot, burning shame!) status, reportedly alienated her record label, and failed to yield a significant pop hit.
Cut to 2009, and the irresistibly anthemic (if discomfitingly titled) single ''My Life Would Suck Without You'': Does her No. 1 Hot 100 hit mean our queen is back? In a word, yes. But in a few more words, it's not quite that simple. The introspection Clarkson favored so heavily on December is still there; now, though, she has perspective: On the piano-riddled rocker ''Impossible,'' she admits, ''I will stumble and I'll make my own mistakes, yeah/But I won't worry 'bout it anymore.''...full text
BlenderSuffering artists usually suffer because nobody likes them. Kelly Clarkson suffered because everybody did. A blast of carbonated acrimony like her 2004 hit “Since U Been Gone” comes only once every millennium or so, and it united pop addicts and rock snobs, schoolkids and mortgage slaves, Macs and PCs. When she followed it with My December, a disc of introspection written by Clarkson sans professional songwriters, her record label freaked and sales sank. Had an unpretentious darling become a “difficult artist”? On her third album, Clarkson finds a Third Way: She makes nice with the pop machine and takes back the mall while keeping her integrity and personality intact. Top-of-the-line tune mechanics (including “Since U Been Gone” coauthor Max Martin) return for a high-octane mix that bounces between disco, emo and punk, Gwen Stefani lilt, Coldplay sweep and Katy Perry pissiness. In almost every setting, Clarkson is still her brassy, blues-weaned self, and she retains her talent for dropping emotional A-bombs in the shifting space between romantic exhilaration and ruination, mega-sizing ambivalence. On “I Do Not Hook Up” (cowritten by Perry) she wields modesty like a warrior’s shield (“I do not come cheap!”). On “My Life Would Suck Without You,” she’s resilient while celebrating a “so dysfunctional” relationship. Sometimes her vocal oomph gets reduced or technologically fuzzed out amid all the stylistic wardrobe changes. But she ably sinks her chops into a Franz Ferdinand funk groove on “All I Ever Wanted” and does Uncharacteristically Playful quite well on bubbly struts like “Ready” and “I Want You.” Of course, the girl who won the inaugural American Idol with the send-in-the-clowns soppy “A Moment Like This” also unabashedly loves to wield the Thor Hammer of monster ballads—which is to say, she’s happiest when she’s overwrought. And the ballads on All I Ever Wanted are big enough to block out the sun. On “Already Gone,” she revels in fatalism (“We were always meant to say good-bye”) as cannon drums announce the death of hope. On “Cry,” breaking up triggers an eye-flood of biblical proportion. Alone at her piano on the album-ending “If No One Will Listen,” she counsels, “Maybe no one told you there is strength in your tears,” as much to herself as anyone else. Love—like the music biz—is full of sacrifice and pain. But no pain, no gain....full text
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