2013 Grammy Nominations:
- Record of the Year
- Song Of The Year
- Best Pop Solo Performance
- Best Pop Vocal Album
I'm so glad that when I gave my friend Amanda choices of what I should write about today, she chose this. I really needed to hear a lot of these songs again.
I love Kelly Clarkson's music. Granted, there are songs I don't like. But hell, there are even Hanson songs I don't like. I really like looking at her entire career, from Thankful to this latest release Stronger. This is an artist who has shown growth throughout time.
She's changed styles several times, showing different vocal and musical abilities. This girl's gone through some crap, and her music's relatable for young women. I hear a lot of people give her flack for being from "Idol" and for being a pop star, but I love what she does and hell, this is my blog.
At some point, I'd like to do an artist study of her, but for now, I'm pretty excited to bring you some commentary on her latest release. It's got a lot more pop and dance beats to it, which isn't totally my cup of tea, but she still manages to deliver some awesome lyrics and relatable songs I certainly rock out to when I have a chance. And hey, she's got a voice, you can't deny her that. She was smart and took the time she needed off (about 6 months) to focus and write and heal from a very hectic 4 years of constant performing and traveling. She went in with a clear objective to the producers to not use Auto-Tune - let's keep this one pure. My heroin.
Let's look at what that voice has to offer us on this album:
"Mr. Know It All" is the single you've probably heard and may or may not love, and hit the top 10 on Billboard's Hot 100 back in September when it was released. Here's the video. It's got a ring of her fighting back against the media, which is always fun in music videos. The wall of press clippings is kind of cool actually. Also, can I just say, this girl is NOT stick thin, and is absolutely gorgeous. Seriously, bravo Kelly, you are an awesome role model figure if I've ever seen one.
"What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)" is an anthem through and through, and a necessary one. It's got everything a person (I really believe there are some guys who can get something out of this too) needs to get through the tough times. It's a feel good, pop-ish number with some rock chords in it. Want to dance it out? Blast this. You'll hear it soon on the radio - this is slated to be her second single from this album.
(12/28/12 update - this song has TOTALLY grown on me and I love it... also, this video, once you really watch it, takes an incredible spin on the concept.)
"You Love Me" has a beat to it, but doesn't cross the line in to club. "You didn't let me down, you didn't tear me apart, you just opened my eyes while breaking my heart." Ugh, man, that kind of realization SUCKS. I couldn't imagine being able to personify it into a song, but man, she does it. Then, she turns it around with the realizations really being that she's above this bullshit. Damn straight.
I am not particularly fond of "Einstein," but I think it's because I have higher expectations for Kelly's music. The math allusions are cute, but not up to par. "Dumb + Dumb = You" I mean, after all... it's no "You + Me = Us." (who did the dance moves while singing that to themselves?? Admit it!!!)
"Standing In Front Of You" is a good one and something you'd really rather scream at certain someones (*ahem*) then sing as sweetly as Kelly manages to. How many girls have wanted a boy to realize that the one who's been the support system for all the times the blind fools let them down is really the right one in the end? Yeah, a nice cute movie ending would be nice in times like these. Anywhos, enough about my personal life. I really like this song a lot - it's more musically gorgeous than a lot of the other tracks.
I just enjoy "I Forgive You" a lot. It's like a gratification note after all of the madness. High school kids - you'll need this song in a couple of years, trust me. "I forgive you - we were just a couple of kids trying to figure out how to live." It also involves forgiving yourself for, well, being yourself. It's got a great beat, a great message, and a great vocal track to boot.
"Hello" is so much fun. I could easily see this being a great live number with an audience clapping along. And come on, I'm a blogger - of course I'm wondering if anyone's actually listening. We're all just longing to be heard, right?
The next track slows us back down at first. "The War Is Over" grows musically throughout, and is all about moving forward after the tough times. "You don't deserve me, and you're not worthy" is the central thought here, leading into a very strong vocal chorus that speaks out to the world beyond the guy. Like I said, female empowerment here.
"Let Me Down" provides a totally different beat, but it's consistent, and therefore a little boring melodically. Then the chorus is a lot of yelling that I don't necessarily enjoy in Kelly's songs, unless they're really strong ones. She falls back into the same beat and few notes that make it a little uninteresting.
"You Can't Win" kind of falls into the same patterns as the last track. Again, just a little bored and disconnected here for some reason. Again again though, I would love to hear this stripped down sans dance beat.
Then we get sad again, because "Breaking Your Own Heart" slows us down with a clear mood shift. I think this is a good one for depression actually. It kind of acts like a kick in the ass, trying to show you that you're the cause of so much of your sadness. It's a good crying song honestly.
*Technically I guess "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Jason Aldean was the first single from this album, though it was released first on Jason's 2010 My Kinda Party. Either way, gorgeous song. There was no official video released to it (damn it I hate music today sometimes... the music video is becoming a lost art...), but they performed on the CMAs in 2010. They kept it so simple, even dressed in black, and lighting to a minimum, just differentiating in the verses to highlight solo spots. I like sharing music immediately with ya'll, so here's the performance so you get a taste of the album:
"Alone" is the first 'bonus' track on the album, and I'm glad it's not a widely-released song (although on Spotify, you can only get the deluxe album, not the standard). It's just too computerized and seems to me to be exactly what Kelly was NOT going for on this album. Sure, I'm tapping my toes to it, but I'm not into it.
I thought I would really love "Don't Be A Girl About It" just based on the title. But again, to computerized of a sound for total enjoyment. Although, I do love that title line, and have more than a few guys that need to hear that one.
We close out with "The Sun Will Rise," which is probably the most inspirational track on the album with some pretty beautiful lyrics. I understand that it seems like a pretty simplified idea and message, but I think it's something good to hear from time to time and worth a song. God, that violin is just perfect in it. She hits this without it being corny, and I know it's something I can, personally, close my eyes, lean back, and believe in.
Added to My Playlist
- "Mr. Know It All"
- "What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)"
- "Dark Side" (added 12/28/12)
- "You Love Me"
- "Standing In Front Of You"
- "I Forgive You"
- "The War Is Over"
- "Breaking Your Own Heart"
- "The Sun Will Rise"
She provides a good variety in her music, and I enjoyed a majority of it. I feel good about the fact that the things I didn't like are the styles she wasn't really going for to begin with on this album. I get everything I want out of these nine tracks.
This album came out back in October on the 21st by RCA, and I'm pretty sure I listened to it as soon as I could on Spotify. I also have every intention of purchasing it for my CD collection because it's that good. Even the songs I didn't add onto my usual play list are ones I think could grow on me given certain timing.
Total side note: They used a Daughtry song in a video package on "Raw" tonight. I thought of my blog. =) I know, no real connection, but it made me smile! It was followed by Zack Ryder's entrance music, which will now be stuck in my head for the next 24 hours...