Kelly Clarkson finally makes the music she wants to make
Kelly Clarkson has come a long way since winning the first season of American Idol. The global pop star had a long string of hits in the noughties and kept her profile high in the States in recent years as well. After a whole lot of trouble and disagreements with her previous label RCA Records, she signed with Atlantic, and with them she is finally making the music she always wanted to make. Soulful and personal! This is Kelly Clarkson’s Meaning Of Life and A Bit of Pop Music helps you to make sense of it all with a track by track review!
01. A Minute (Intro)
The one minute long intro is produced in a way it sounds like it was a soul track recorded in the 60s and it is the perfect way to set the tone for this album!
02. Love So Soft
Lead single ‘Love So Soft’ is such a powerhouse comeback! The soulful vibe, the catchy and sassy chorus, Clarkson’s huge ad libs, it all works. The song is still gaining traction in the charts in the US, but it is about time this song blows up internationally!
On the day of the release, ‘Heat’ was pushed forward as the track to lead the campaign, appearing in Spotify playlists and such. It is not hard to hear why. It is one of the more swinging moments with an infectious ‘whoah oh’ in the chorus and perfect use of backing vocals to underline the hooks.
04. Meaning Of Life
This type of atmospheric ballad with a message of love suits her voice perfectly. She dares to show off the more rough edges of her vocals in the verses and serves unchallenged power in the choruses. During the middle-eight, a choir joins in to help reach that climax. The last times the chorus comes around is such a moment!
05. Move You
‘Move You’ definitely is a classic Clarkson ballad in the making with a delicious soulful twist. In the verses she strikingly describes all the ways in which she wants to move the person she sings this song too. Kelly has always been a vocal powerhouse, but the incredible control she has over those pipes these days is unique. How she belts over the gospel choir in the last chorus is simply goosebump inducing.
06. Whole Lotta Woman
On the feisty ‘Whole Lotta Woman’, Clarkson proves she has never been more comfortable in her skin. Good for her! Her sassy delivery is priceless and can we please have a music video with Clarkson proudly strutting around to that infectious beat? Pleeaaaseee!
‘Medicine’ has a swinging and slightly funky intro and turns in to a powerful pop track with one of the strongest choruses on the whole album. The track serves hook after hook and the production is lush. And the way Kelly’s vocals are produced in the post-chorus, we have never heard her like that before! Can we please demand this as a single at some point in the campaign!? Thanks!
On the ballad ‘Cruel’, Clarkson begs from her lover not to be, exactly that, cruel. “It’s taking all of me to love someone like you”, she sings. After a soft and gentle delivery of the chorus, she then repeats it once more, belting her heart out. Beautiful!
09. Didn’t I
“I gave you everything, did-did-didn’t I?”, Clarkson asks rhetorically on this absolute vocal whirlwind. The production is bold and there’s horns backing her up here. Definitely one of the loudest tunes on the album, but it works just fine!
10. Would You Call That Love?
Another track built around a rhetorical question here. “If you look back on us, would you call that love?”, she sings in possibly the most radiofriendly chorus of the record. This could be described as a typical Kelly Clarkson song, although the production sounds fresher than on her most recent albums. Another serious contender for next single!
11. I Don’t Think About You
We are already over ten tracks in and only now I found the first song that does not really stick with me in any way. The ‘eeee’s’ in the chorus get tedious easily and lyrically there is nothing here that hasn’t been said before. It is not bad per se, but a bit uneventful.
12. Slow Dance
Kelly Clarkson is teaching her hubby how to slow dance on this track. Have you ever heard her so sensual and romantic before? She sounds gorgeous once more and that guitar solo during the middle-eight is a nice touch. What an absolutely lovely song!
13. Don’t You Pretend
‘Don’t You Pretend’ would have been one of the more bland and forgettable tunes on the record if it wasn’t for the brilliant way the backing vocals sound during the chorus. Funny how a detail like this can be all it takes to elevate a track completely!
14. Go High
On album closer ‘Go High’, Kelly Clarkson shows off her winners mentality. Quoting Michelle Obama’s mantra ‘when they go low, we go high’, she sings about never giving up and that is exactly what she did to get this album out in the first place. And with this truly uplifting chorus, she closes the album on a high!
Clarkson explained that with the recording of Meaning Of Life, she wanted to honour the music she was listening to in her youth and the kind of sound she always wanted to produce herself as well. She has the creative control back and that is hearable. The album sounds like it was made with passion and a lot of pleasure. There is no real filler material here and there is still possibility enough for a proper radio hit as well. Miss Kelly Clarkson, congratulations with this album that is a victory in more than one way!