Tuesday, June 19, 2007

KellyKellyKellyKellyKellyKelly ...

KellyKellyKellyKellyKellyKelly ...

Now that I've finally heard a much better quality version of Kelly Clarkson's forthcoming album My December, I can sort of see why Clive Davis is so freaked out ... and also see just how out of touch that old school industry types like Davis are. Davis is one of those grand old men oin the music industry that view artists as nothing more than mouthpieces and pawns whose movements should be engineered by corporate big wigs to insure maximum ROI. Considering how much money they sink into albums and their roster's acts, it's not so surprising that they think that way, but it is a pretty clear indication as to why their thinking has contributed to a pretty steep decline in power and influence for the Major Labels.

(And no, I'm not trying to imply that file sharing isn't the biggest factor in their decline, but I still firmly believe it was their business model that led to the rise of file sharing in the first place. People got tired of being ripped off for crap.)

In Davis' defense, there is nothing on My December that will approximate the success of "Since U Been Gone." It's a dark album, reflecting a young woman at a crossroads, unsure of which direction to go, and indulging in a bit of self-reflection while trying to divine the proper path. It's already on the receiving end of some early fan backlash, but I think those folks are listening to a rather shoddy webrip of the disc, and the poor sonic quality is unfairly shaping their opinions of the songs themselves.

The fact of the matter is that while Clarkson is definitely trending more towards the rock end of the pop spectrum, she's still firmly in territory she's already mapped out with great success. I'm not exactly sure why the first single was"Never Again," since it's shriller and less tuneful than almost anything else on the album. Instead Clarkson should have released something like the mopey lyric-ed but tunefully bouncy "How I Feel" or the chugging dance-rock of "One Minute." The point I'm trying to make is that the album as a whole is successful in its goal of trying to keep Clarkson relevant while continuing to craft a long-term career on her own terms.

The album is not perfect, and there is a syrupy trio of songs smack dab in the middle of the disc that does brings things to a grinding halt, as well as the odd Pearl Jam-lite track "Can I Have A Kiss," but there are at least as many good songs on this album as there were on Clarkson's mega-hit Breakaway.

So Clive, I think it's time to step back, and face up to the fact that the strings you're used to manipulating your marionettes with were cut off Ms. Clarkson's limbs long ago. She may yet fail fail in her gambit for personal artistic integrity in the court of the marketplace, but that's a chance she has earned the right to take.

MP3: Kelly Clarkson "How I Feel"

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