The original "American Idol" Kelly Clarkson stands proud behind her third album "My December." The album flew off the shelves June 26, its release day. It debuted on the Billboard Charts at No. 2. Since then, not much has been heard from the controversial album. That is, until now.
RCA Records President Clive Davis pigeonholed the controversial album before the public listened to it due to the supposed feud between Clarkson and Davis.
Davis never made an official statement, but Clarkson’s fans knew the truth. Clarkson chose to either write or co-write each of the songs on the album instead of using a team of songwriters he selected, which made Davis unhappy.
"My label literally sent me a Lindsay Lohan track from her last album and wanted me to record it for my new album," Clarkson told MTV. "And while I like Lindsay Lohan, like I'm cool with her and I think she sings the song well ... it's already been on an album. I don't care what pop star it is.”
You can easily predict what happens to an album with a non-supportive record label - it does not excel. While the album made a strong debut, it fell to No. 124 on the charts.
Let’s take a look at Clarkson’s most personal and artistic album.
The opening lines of the album and first single are as cold as a slap in the face.
“I hope the ring you gave to her turns her finger green / I hope when you’re in bed with her, you think of me / I would never wish bad things, but I don’t wish you well,” a scorned Clarkson sings.
“Never Again," the top 10 single released in April 2007, begins the album. Clarkson makes it clear that she’ll never fall for the ex’s lies again. The track shows the angry side of the "Idol" that hasn’t been seen before.
“One minute you laugh / The next minute you’re slowly sinking into something black / I get the feeling that lately nothing ever really lasts / I keep trying to get up but I keep falling back,” the chorus of the second track goes.
“One Minute,” the track left over from Clarkson’s second album “Breakaway," now rewritten and completely reworked, fits this much darker album. The outcome creates a very catchy pop song that could tear the charts to shreds if given the chance.
“I’m so far from where I need to be / I’ve given up on faith, on everything / All I wanted, all I needed / Was some peace / There’s a hole inside of me / It’s so damn cold / Slowly killing me,” the rocker in Clarkson belts.
“Hole” proves one thing. The southern girl who tackled different genres on the first season of "American Idol" has the chops to take on anything. Clarkson rocks out with her influences of AC/DC and Aerosmith as clear as day.
The album features a second single released in the United States. “Sober” was released at the time the album hit stores. The timing couldn’t have been more wrong. The track hit radio right in the middle of the debate over the album with the label.
As a single the song failed; it wasn’t played on radio. I personally called radio stations to request it, and they refused. Of course it wouldn’t succeed, her label was not backing it up.
By far the most beautiful and brilliant track on the album, “Sober” deserves proper attention.
The song begins as a ballad. Don’t be fooled; it’s not you’re typical, sappy ballad. Clarkson delivers a metaphorical rock ballad about getting over something negative in your life.
“Three months and I’m still standing here / Three months and I’m getting better, yeah / Three months and I still am / Three months and it’s still harder now / Three months I’ve been living here without you now,” Clarkson sings.
“Don’t Waste Your Time” follows and picks things back up.
“Don’t waste your time trying to fix / What I want to erase / What I need to forget / Don’t waste your time on me my friend / Friend, what does that even mean? / I don’t want your hand / You’ll only pull me down / So save your breath,” Clarkson sings on her new international single.
The radio-friendly track tells the story of not letting someone in after being hurt. She pretty much says, “don’t waste your time by wasting my time.”
The translation of the next track “Judas,” simply means traitor.
I have been in this same situation. Almost everyone has been betrayed at some point. The honesty in this track gives the song a broad appeal that reaches out to many.
“Couldn’t believe, couldn’t believe / How you deceived, you deceived / I never thought you’d do that to me / I will never be like you / I’ll never do the things you do / Selfish and lonely, what’s your problem? / Letting go of you and this / Is harder than I thought but I will not be poisoned by your actions,” Clarkson echoes.
The style of Evanescence hides within the next song “Haunted.”
“I miss you, you hurt me / You left with a smile / Mistaken, your sadness was hiding inside / Now all that’s left are the pieces to find / The mystery you kept / The soul behind a guise,” Clarkson sings, retelling her emotions upon the news of her friend’s suicide.
For such a catchy song, full of guitars and special effects, I am shocked by the pain hidden within the lyrics. Of all the songs on the album, you will not forget this one.
Clarkson showcases the “singer-songwriter” in her on the next two ballads.
"Slow, slow it down / Why do we run, we’re missing so much babe / Just lay in my arms for a while / Be still,” Clarkson sings with the accompaniment of the piano and a single acoustic guitar.
“Be Still” literally slows things down. The beauty in Clarkson’s voice shines in this song. Influences of Patty Griffin, Brandi Carlile and Ray LaMontagne can easily be pointed out.
Clarkson first introduced “Maybe” to fans in 2006 when she performed new tracks on her Addicted Tour to get an idea of what people thought of the new music.
A series of acoustic guitars provide the only source of music on this intense power ballad.
"I don’t want to be tough / And I don’t want to be proud / I don’t need to be fixed and I certainly don’t need to be found / I’m not lost / I need to be loved / I just need to be loved / I just want to be loved by you and I won’t stop ‘cause I believe / That maybe, yeah maybe / Maybe, yeah maybe,” sings Clarkson on my favorite track on the album.
At this point, I believe Clive Davis is deaf. How could he not “hear any hits” on this album?
“How I Feel” screams "HIT." Here you have the most radio-friendly track from Clarkson to date.
“Oh, I’m getting tired of believing / Even sicker of pretending / That it’s not so bad, just wait it out / Oh, I think you’re feeding me lies again / The only good man left wasn’t him / And that’s how I feel right now, so just let me be / Let me be,” Clarkson jokingly sings.
No doubt, you will be singing this song for months. It’s been in my head since June. Even the guys can sing this song, with a minor twist of the lyrics. Change “man” to “girl” and “him” to “her”... and you’re set.
Legendary bassist, Mike Watts lends his skills to “Yeah,” another song previewed on the Addicted Tour.
“Lay back, enjoy the fall lover I won’t hurt you / I take it all on if you trust me / Don’t hesitate; let it go, let me know, baby show me / I don’t read minds but I’m trying my best to read yours / Yeah / Let me know, let me know / Yeah / Let me know, it’s all for you,” Clarkson soars.
If you’re a blues or jazz fan, you’re going to love this song.
Clarkson lets her country roots grow with “Can I Have A Kiss.” The music and lyrics have a hint of twang. It sounds like something you would hear on popular country radio stations.
“I know why you left / I can’t blame you myself / Must be hard living with ghosts and such an empty shell / I tried to warn you / I’ve been a mess since you’ve known me / I can’t promise forever / But I’m working on it / If I can’t hold you / Can I give you a kiss?” Clarkson belts.
The album wraps up with the very emotional and personal song “Irvine." With no reference to the title in the song, many may wonder, "Why title the song after the California city?"
The song was written in the bathroom of her dressing room at the Irvine Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.
"The song is a prayer from the lowest point in my life," she says on her fan club Web site. "There comes a time when you feel like, if He's up there - God, Allah or whatever you want to call Him - is the only one that can help me out. After that night, I know there's someone or something out there looking out for me."
“I know you’re busy, I know I’m just one / But you might be the only one who sees me / The only one to save me / Why is it so hard? / Why can’t you just take me? / I don’t have much to go before I fade completely,” Clarkson sings with such raw heart breaking emotion.
The song was only recorded once, and from the impression gained from Clarkson, will never be sang again. Recorded in her closet on her laptop, no fancy technology alters the track. The song gives me chills, in a good way, every time I hear it.
A long, silent pause follows the last chords of “Irvine." Wait for it, wait ...
A breathy Clarkson surfaces with the hidden track “Chivas,” an ode to Chivas Regal Whiskey. The song, meant to be humorous, provides the perfect end to the album.
“Baby, I can't stand the sight of your face / Baby, I don't even want to hear your name / Don't know what I saw / But are you seeing it now / Woke up this morning, bitterness in my mouth / Guess I fell too fast / Guess I learned my lesson / So much for true love / I'll take the Chivas instead,” a drunken-sounding Clarkson sings.
For die-hard Kelly Clarkson fans, buying the album on iTunes gives you the two bonus tracks “Dirty Little Secret” and “Not Today.” If you really want to splurge, you can order the Japanese import of the album and get the bonus track “Fading.”
And there you have it. Clarkson re-invented herself with a rock album. I do not understand why the album was not well received. The album is not a departure from her previous styles of music. It’s merely adding something new to it.
Clarkson still has the same southern quirkiness that screamed “COOL BEANS!” when I met her in 2005 and gave her a shirt sporting the line “Ducka! Ducka! Ducka!” The only difference now is that she has been severely ticked off.
Clarkson, when interviewed by ELLE magazine for their July issue, claimed Davis offered her $10 million to drop five of her songs from “My December” and replace them with more radio-friendly hits.
"My resistance upsets a lot of people, because we could make a lot of money," Clarkson said. "And I'm not hatin' on money ... I'm just not comfortable doing things that don't feel like me."
Clarkson made a smart decision. She created the best album of her career and, quite possibly, the best album of 2007.
Still wanting more?
Clarkson’s canceled summer tour, due to poor ticket sales and the firing of her manager, Jeff Kwatinetz, who booked her in huge arenas, has been rescheduled for this fall with new dates and smaller venues. Reason being: Clarkson hired her friend Reba McEntire’s husband, Narvel Blackstock, as her new manager.
The scaled back tour started this past Wednesday, Oct. 10 in New York and will wrap Dec. 3 in Nashville.
According to TicketMaster, tickets are on sale now for the dates listed below:
I will attend the show Nov. 23 in Grand Prairie, Texas.
You can look forward to a detailed review of the show. It should be
interesting considering Clarkson will perform on her own turf. Grand
Prairie, a suburb of Dallas, happens to be right near her hometown of
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©The Voice 2007
Revised 01/13/2008 03:28:42 PM — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/5_7/december.htm