Monday, July 10, 2006

We started out friends

Ah, Kelly Clarkson--really, what is there left to say? She's firmly established herself as a popstar, one whose singles, by now, are almost guaranteed to do well, and generally deservedly so (though I do hope she stops using "Breakaway" as the source; good as that album is, it's probably given up just as many singles as it can). She's also set a difficult precedent for any future Idols to follow, both in commercial success and in defining a new path for pop music. In truth, you all will probably have heard all of the songs of hers I'll provide today, but they are all good (plus, I want an opportunity to throw my two cents in about them).

Miss Independent--already trying to be edgier, Kelly? Though this single was from her first album, hints of "Breakaway"'s rock-influenced direction are apparent here. This song somehow manages to feel like a girl power anthem but ultimately is about falling in love.

Since U Been Gone--everyone knows this song. It's great, top class, even if it has inspired countless knock-offs and made "pure" pop's struggle to survive--already greatly complicated by Busted in the UK and R&B's invasion of the charts in the US--more difficult.

Behind These Hazel Eyes--I think I prefer this song to Since U Been Gone. Also great, also known by everyone. Kelly's songs tend to sound better when you're either, a) surrounded by a bunch of people and shouting the words along with her, or b) driving alone in your car and can sing along, with only periodic concerned glances from passing cars to distract you. They're very "big"-sounding. I'm not really liking potential third album track "Go;" it feels a bit same-y to me, either lacking a hook or without any real high points or changes throughout it, maybe? I don't know where Kelly can go from here if she wants to keep being innovative, but hopefully she'll come up with something (any artist who actually gets pop music played on US radio will probably get my support, but I hope Ford only got "Go" because it was one of the weaker tracks on the album).

I like Kelly's music, but since it's already so well-known, I thought I'd throw in her not-so-successful runnerup, Justin Guarini, today, too. I didn't watch the first season of American Idol until near the end, but, from what I saw, there's no reason he shouldn't have had at least decent success. Part of the problem was probably timing; his album wasn't released for a while after the show and, because of his contract, couldn't really do anything until after Kelly was established (except, of course, film "From Justin to Kelly," the flop of which might have hurt him, too). However, I do think his first album wasn't as strong as Kelly's; it lacked stand-out songs that would make good singles and draw people into the album.

Thinking of You--a ballad, and fairly pretty. This song is close to being catchy--a few lines in the chorus really get your hopes up, but, ultimately, the song feels like it's missing something.

If You Wanna--Funkier, also decent, but also not incredibly amazing. It's a good departure from typical Idol fare, though, which makes me wonder if, if his album had met with more success, Justin could have gone in a really good and interesting direction.

If you want to buy albums by Kelly Clarkson, you can get physical copies here and digital copies here. For Justin Guarini's album, go here, for physical copies, or here, for digital copies (the latter isn't a direct link, so you'll have to search for Justin's name; it's also in German, but it's easy enough to navigate).

Finally, if you really like Kelly and Justin, you can go to the great, often-updated music site Static From The Floor Below to download the soundtrack for "From Justin to Kelly" (which I haven't seen; can it really be that awful?). Huge thanks to Zappin' It To Ya for mentioning me; I love that site (thank goodness it's updated every day)!

Next up: another American Idol 1 finalist, who's at least a little less well-known and wants to take you on a "Rollercoaster" ride.

1 comment:

Paul said...

aw i love your site :) Check out for some justin music including a second album :)

PS ~ I quite like go after only liking Since U Been Gone from the second album...