Kelly: Less Cowbell

Kelly Clarkson has a fever. She has a fever and the only cure is not more cowbell. Her cure is apparently having as many one-word names of songs on her new album as possible (7 of 13). In fact, the titles of the 13 songs total only 25 words. This puts her in familiar company with Creed's My Own Prison (5 of 10), though nowhere near the (I'm sure) record that Pearl Jam set with Ten (10 of 11). Coincidence? I hope so.

In continuing with the song titles trend, I feel you should know that two of the best tracks on My December are ambiguously named "Maybe" and "Yeah."

It's no secret that Kelly's last record was every indie critic's guilty pleasure in addition to winning two Grammy awards. This album, however, is off the charts with inconsistency. I get the impression that My December has no idea what it wants to be. Does it want to be an angsty rock record that sounds like Evanescence? Or maybe it'd prefer to be the late '80s dance-rock Gwen Stefani used to pay her bills with. Perhaps it enjoys the watered-down balladry of at least three of these songs. Lyrically there is zero focus, just circles drawn around her usual subjects (independence, perseverance, just shoot me).

There are a few highlights, thankfully. "Yeah" has some great horn arrangements and melody and I hope, for her sake, it gets released as a single. The lengthy, winding closer "Irvine" sets a very nice flowing mood. It's not a single, obviously, but a few more focused and binding songs like this might have saved the album. So it's a wash. The third time is apparently not a charm for Kelly Clarkson.

Be Still
[from My December (out 6.26.07)|buy]


Anonymous rg said...

Loved your line about Kelly's last record being every indie critic's guilty pleasure. It was one of my guilty pleasures, too. Thought these songs were OK, nothing great. Not sure I'll be buying this album. Thanks for the songs.

12:57 AM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

I cannot help but to love Kelly. Her voice is amazing. And while I agree that this album seems to lack focus, there are several standout tracks. "Irvine" and even the hidden track "Chivas" are two of the first that spring to mind. I think, given a little time and room to grow, she might be able to develop her skills as a musician even further. Third time may not be the charm, but it certainly isn't a strike either.

3:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think this is guilty pleasure stuff--guilty pleasure stuff is when a song is bad but you like it anyway. (See: Gwen Stefani.) This stuff is professional, almost to a fault.

For a brief moment when I saw the tracklist I thought maybe she would just go for it and "Yeah" would be an LCD Soundsystem cover. No dice, but my fingers are still crossed.

11:30 PM  

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