June 21, 2007

Album Review: My December

Posted in Music at 9:40 pm by Calico Jack

Kelly Clarkson’s latest album My December — which has been plagued with problems throughout its recording — will finally hit stores next Tuesday. All five of you who care, raise your hands. Still, in the interests of avoiding the “music snob” moniker I listened to the entire thing, courtesy of MTV’s Mac-unfriendly website. My December has a different tone than her previous albums; it’s lyrically darker and more despondent than even the not-exactly-peppy “Since You’ve Been Gone” track from Breakaway, which made her the darling of so many jilted girlfriends. Even the music has a harder edge; it’s closer to Evanescence than Natasha Bedingfield — although it falls prey to modern rock’s worst attribute, as nearly every track sounds exactly the same. It’s all midtempo, interchangeable stuff that drones on after the first several songs. I believe another American Idol alum had the same problem, with his debut album being focus-tested to contain the maximum number of radio-friendly hits — i.e., Nickelback-lite. Chris Daughtry’s record was inexplicably snapped up by a large number of Americans, though; obviously it worked.

Clarkson also can’t seem to get past her biggest obstacle: her voice. She’s an alto who shouldn’t be trying to belt out anything soprano-related, as the results are more shrieking than singing. The first single “Never Again” is a particularly egregious example of this problem, but it gets little better for the rest of My December. However, there are two tracks which deviate from the usual formula and prove that somewhere, deep down, Kelly Clarkson has a decent singing/songwriting gene buried beneath layers of post-American Idol celebrity. “Be Still” and “Irvine” are quieter, reflective songs unfortunately stuck in the second half of the album; better placement might have given listeners more of an incentive to slog their way through the whole thing. Clarkson channels Damien Rice’s breathy vocals in the hopeful “Be Still”, and pleading “Irvine” is a quiet cross between Sarah McLachlan and Feist. I’ll probably end up getting both tracks on iTunes; they’d make for a nice coffeehouse mix.

If you’re interested in listening to My December, here’s the link for the 64K stream. As pop-rock music goes, it’s mediocre-and-below…but this album will probably sell a million copies to people who have never heard of Neko Case or Regina Spektor or even Corrinne Bailey Rae. Oh well; their loss.

C-.

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3 Comments »

  1. Jon said,

    total and utter bullsh*t

  2. amuirin said,

    But I wanna hear about.. mm. What’s her name? The little blonde disney chick who went all brunette and is now showing her skin like every 13 year old pop sensation seems to do eventually.

    What’s her name? Not Lindsay Lohan. Got it- Hillary Duff. What’s going on there?

    Kudos on the Spektor mention, I feel like I discovered Regina personally.

  3. JuLu said,

    I found this album darker then the others. I prefer her other albums, and My Decemebr makes me feel sad.


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