Kelly Clarkson - 'My Life Would Suck Without You'
The 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.
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!
Download: Out now
CD Released: March 2nd