Reality Rocks - Archive

Kelly Clarkson Is Back! Or Did She Ever Really Leave?

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

There's been alot of "Kelly Clarkson is back!" hype recently, in light of her newsingle, "My Life Would Suck Without You," setting a chart record byvaulting from #97 to #1 on the Billboard Hot100 singles chart.

But I say Kelly never really left.

A couple of years ago, much ado was made about the OriginalIdol's "controversial"third album, My December (aka The Album Clive Davis Didn'tWant You To Hear), and its supposed lack of commercial appeal.

Alongwith Kelly's poorly timed decision to fire her management firm (um, called TheFirm) and cancel her summer tour just two weeks before My December's street date, there were those troubling rumorsabout Clive "I Don't Hear ASingle" Davis tearing her a new you-know-what in record label boardmeetings.

Or that gossip about him dangling a $10 million carrot in front ofher face to persuade her to cut five songs that apparently didn't sound enough like "Since U Been Gone Part 2:Electric Boogaloo."

Anyhoo, after all that hype and hearsay, I was expecting My December to sound like a nails-on-chalkboard crossbetween Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music and, say, any given Limp Bizkit album. Or atleast to bear a passing resemblance to other troubled divas' radio-unfriendly, repeatedly shelved masterworks,like Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine and Nellie McKay'sPretty Little Head. But you know what?While nothing on My December sounded fluffy enoughto have made it onto the From Justin To Kellysoundtrack, it still pretty much sounded like good ole Kelly to me. A littleangrier, a little darker, maybe...but still Kelly.

(And by the way, as for the much-ballyhooed"darkness" of My December's lyrical content, well...have you ever reallylistened closely to "Since U Been Gone," "Because Of You,"or "Walk Away"? This was hardly the first time our poor bachelorette hadsung her broken heart out regarding her man troubles.)

But now Kelly is back with a poppier sound that hearkensback to her gazillion-selling second album, Breakaway, judgingby the fizzy frothiness of "My Life Would Suck Without You" (whichwas crafted by the same Midas-touched Swedish hitmakers behind "SinceU Been Gone"). She's also puther hair extensions and golden highlights back into her 'do,and the video for the song shows her cavorting playfully, romcom-style, with ahunky love interest (rather than plotting out sick ex-boyfriend revengefantasies like she did in her bunny-boiling "Never Again" video).

Andin recent interviews, she's in totalStepford Wife robo-mode, downplaying (or outright denying) the My Decemberfallout with all the Whitestrip-smiling, vacant-eyed, spin-controllingdiplomacy of a Miss America contestant promoting world peace during a pageantinterview segment. It's like all thefight has been beaten out of Kelly by the all-powerful record-label machine.

Don't get mewrong--I think "My Life Would Suck Without You" is an AWESOME popsong, and I am thrilled to see Kelly'sname in big block letters atop the charts again. But considering how vehementlyshe fought for creative control and the right to pen her own songs on her lastalbum, I really do hope Kelly has some say regarding her career direction thesedays, especially now that she's four albumsinto that career.

After all, I would hate to think the title of her new hit secretlyrefers to Clive Davis, and not to some cute new post-"Never Again" boyfriend.

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