I watch American Idol. There, I said it, I admit it, never missed a show and I like Simon to boot. All that withstanding, no matter what your take is on the music industry it is impossible to dispute the impact ‘Idol’ has had on cd sales, movie tickets and DVD sales, (thanks in part to Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar winning performance in “Dreamgirls”). Not to mention Chris Daughtry’s debut CD entered the charts at number one with Kathryn McPhee right on his heels at number two, keep in mind these two artists weren’t even the winners of Idol. However with all things, there is nothing quite the first, the original, the one that came before all others, Kelly Clarkson. It’s hard to believe looking at this pop superstar now that just a few short years ago she was a complete unknown auditioning among thousands of other hopefuls. Sure, she was cute, the All-American Girl next door with the winning smile.
The difference between Clarkson and many of those who came after is, not only does the girl have the vocal chops but she also writes her own material. So like it or not, believe it or not, there is substance there. Okay, granted, the ‘pop’ genre is not for everybody but it’s hard to deny its appeal. And let’s face it; a good song is a good song no matter what genre it falls in to. And the fact that Clarkson herself has won a handful of Grammy Awards only adds to her ‘more than just an ‘Idol’ stigma) I have Clarkson’s other releases. I really like the tune, “Because Of You.” (written by Clarkson when she was 16 years old – an impressive song for a writer of any age) I’m a sucker for a good ‘done me wrong’ love song. I watched her concert with country diva Reba McEntire on CMT (another one of my favorites) and thoroughly enjoyed it. So when I heard Clarkson had a new release coming out I was intrigued. Even more so when I heard rumblings throughout the industry that it wasn’t going to be the standard ‘pop’ cd. Clarkson was going for a more edgier sound and reportedly music guru Clive Davis was none too pleased and didn’t want to release “My December.” Though he ended up releasing the CD anyway.
“My December,” is different from Clarkson’s previous releases. It is a bit harder, not quite accessible as a ‘pop’ release usually is. She seems to be going for a more mature Pat Benatar influenced vocal styling. The first single “Never Again,” is a bit reminiscent of her previous song “Since You’ve Been Gone,” in regards to a vocal with more angst. The video ‘Never Again,” is definitely something new for Clarkson. She’s not playing the typical female victim of a love gone wrong. She’s in your face and making no excuses, “Does it hurt / To know I’ll never be there / Bet it sucks / See my face everywhere / It was you / Who chose to end it like you did, I was the last to know.”
The important thing to remember with every artist is that at some point their music as well as they are going to grow branch out and try new things. Those artists that remain the same in their careers soon become rather predictable and boring. Kelly hit the scene at an early age thanks to her ‘Idol’ success so growing pains are to be expected and welcomed. “My December,” is a good rock cd. Keep in mind, if you’re yearning for the Kelly from “Breakaway,” your system is in for a shock. But after all, isn’t that what music is all about?