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Kelly Clarkson - 'My Life Would Suck Without You'

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Fraser McAlpine | 10:15 UK time, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Kelly ClarksonThe problem with asking me to review the new Kelly Clarkson single is that I still have many, MANY grievances over the whole 'My December' farrago. For the record, I didn't think it was as bad as everyone (mentioning no names, Clive Davis) made it out to be, but it did always feel somewhat unfinished to me. Like it would have benefited hugely from the input of a no-nonsense editor who could've tidied up the lyrics and the song structure a little bit and turned the collection of messy songs with potential into the awesome songs they could've been. 'Irvine' and 'Chivas' were amazing, of course, but they were stuck right at the end and it was a little bit late by then.

Perhaps the worst part of 'My December's relative commercial bombing is that it means, in effect, Clive Davis was right. (I could bore on for several more hours about my conspiracy theories about how all the bad press he gave it leading up to its release ensured its failure, but I'm far enough off the point already and this is only the second paragraph.) And this is a man who, lest we forget, decided that the best possible song he could give to dyed-in-the-wool country singer Carrie Underwood to perform in the American Idol season four finale was 'Man! I Feel Like A Woman'. Honestly, she looked as embarrassed performing it as I felt watching it. (Speaking of American Idol, isn't this season totally underwhelming? What's with that guy with the dead wife? When did this become The X Factor?)

So, if we have established that the record-buying masses do not want angsty, proto-Evanescence Kelly, what do they want? Well, the obvious answer would be "they want 'Since U Been Gone Pt. 2', Steven", and clearly that's what Max Martin thought, because here it is. It's the tale of Kelly's dysfunctional relationship with her maybe-ex, and how they're terrible together but even worse apart.

Look, here it is in video form...

Now, 'Since U Been Gone' is probably one of my favourite songs ever. The idea of a sequel to it should, in theory, be awesome. However, this is a little too close for comfort - the beginning is practically the same song. Some of the lyrics feel a little unfinished, too - it's really jarring how the second half of the first verse doesn't rhyme when the first half does. And while I'm airing grievances, it's kind of overproduced too. There's just too much going on most of the time, with the outcome being that it feels a bit desperate, one beautiful stripped down section in the middle eight notwithstanding.

And the title? I mean, it's a little bit Katy Perry, isn't it? Should a woman with three albums already under her belt really be releasing songs called 'My Life Would Suck Without You', complete with oh-so-ironic lollipop-toting artwork?

So this should all add up to a negative review, right? So what's with that star rating down there in the corner, eh? What gives? Well, to be honest, that's pretty much all down to Kelly. In the hands of another artist, this track would just be the sum of its parts, and would be getting two stars at the most. There's something about Kelly's delivery of the lyrics and her infusion of the tone into them that lifts this track out of the doldrums and makes it believable.

Maybe it's the way that she always seems to be half-sighing when she sings (the aforementioned "being with you is so dysfunctional / I really shouldn't miss you" part of the middle eight in particular) that makes the emotional drive behind the song so tangible. It's still overproduced, it's still lyrically suspect, and it's still not really the step ahead from 'Since U Been Gone' that I would've liked, but it's a masterly vocal from Kelly, and I can't ignore that.

Don't even ask. I won't do it. You can't make me!

Four starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: March 2nd

(Steve Perkins)


  • Comment number 1.

    I agree that My December really wasn't as bad as everybody made out. It was more that it was different, and people in the Pop world can't handle change if it means that an artist becomes less accessible. However, kelly has always been a rock chick, and I think it was important for her to get that album out of her system, so she could satisfy that urge to prove herself as a songwriter. Irvine and Sober were truly beautiful and Never Again was just brilliant.
    However, I'm also glad to have her back to a more poppy side. It's so nice to hear a pop "rock" artist who can actually sing, after months of Katy Perry and her tuneless warblings: has anybody actually listened to Thinking Of You? Her voice is so strange.
    Welcome back Kelly.
    P.S. Danny Gokey is great! Perhaps it's a girl thing, since Paula and Kara went crazy for him while Simon wasn't too impressed.

  • Comment number 2.

    I was never crazy about My December, but I only ever heard bits and piece of it. I love this song though, mostly because it's Kelly Clarkson and she can pull it off better than most people would do.

    I agree about the underwhelming series of AI, but I'm still annoyed about Anoop not going through. *pouts*

  • Comment number 3.

    As far as Im concerned, Sober is still Kelly Clarksons best track.

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm not a Carrie or Clive fan by any means but fact check: Clive chose Roy Orbison's "Crying" for Carrie, "MIFLAW" was Randy Jackson's offering (proving time and time again that he's the most worthless judge on the show)

  • Comment number 5.

    Randy's the most worthless judge? Paula just sits there slurring inane compliments no matter how awful they were.

  • Comment number 6.

    Randy's the most worthless judge? Paula just sits there slurring inane compliments no matter how awful they were.
    They both do,

  • Comment number 7.

    I agree with XxlivsxX - 'My December' was important for Kelly - it was the album she NEEDED to make, regardless of how it sold or was received.

    Obviously, Mr Davis and all concerned keep their eyes on the dollars and the units, whereas Kelly needs to feel proud of what she's putting out.

    'Sober' will always be a favourite of mine, and the fact that 'My December' is 'out of the way', for want of a better phrase, means that Kelly can sell a song like 'My Life Would Suck Without You' with a lot more conviction than a lesser artist could.

    Also, after having heard snippets of the new album, 'All I Ever Wanted', the fact that she's taken songs FROM Katy Perry and is making them her own (and far better, I might add) shows that she's actually learnt the right kind of lessons from Mr Davis's shocking treatment of her last album - she knows how the industry works, and now knows how to balance those raw, honest, My December-esque tracks with chart-topping, Since U Been Gone type tracks, therefor pleasing the masses.

    She is not one to be ignored, this Clarkson lady.

  • Comment number 8.

    stitchcastle - I have checked, and you are absolutely correct. My apologies to Clive Davis in that regard - I take back that specific comment, especially since Carrie's performance of 'Crying' was very good, though my beef pertaining to My December still stands Randy Jackson, you and I need to have words. None of them should be "dawg" or "pitchy", either.

    For what it's worth, I'd pick Paula over Randy because at least she's unpredictable. Randy gives a different version of the same two comments (one good, one bad) to every contestant. It's all about Kara and Simon as far as I'm concerned. And I did think the second round of semifinals was better than the first, and am looking forward to seeing who made it through tonight!


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