Music Review: All I Ever Wanted – Kelly Clarkson

Hey all…

As the original American Idol prepares to release her fourth album, I’m reminded why Kelly Clarkson has become such a pop powerhouse. Not only does she have talent, but she has a stable of great songwriters helping her out along the way. The first single, “My Life Would Suck Without You” jumped from #97 to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart just a few weeks ago. I’m sure we’ll hear more from this album on the airwaves soon.

In a scant 7 years, her first three albums (Thankful, Breakaway, and My December) have sold 16 million albums worldwide and garnered her 2 Grammy Awards, 2 American Music Awards, 2 MTV Awards, and 11 Billboard Awards. Somehow I suspect that All I Ever Wanted will continue the trend.

Like her previous albums, with All I Ever Wanted Clarkson proves that she deserves to be on the pop charts with soaring vocals on ballads and anthems alike. Starting with the track released as her first single, “My Life Would Suck Without You”, she gets the album off to a fast start. All the songs seem to focus on various aspects of relationships current, past, or future, especially where the guy is clueless and the girl doesn’t want to take it any more.

“I Do Not Hook Up” tells of a rebound relationship. Written by Katy Perry, Kara DioGuardi, and Greg Wells, it’s good that the latest American Idol judge hasn’t lost her songwriting skills. “Cry” tells the story of a breakup where the couple knows it needs to happen, but they don’t know how to tell others why. “Don’t Let Me Stop You” is a woman telling her guy that if he really doesn’t want to be around — don’t let her stop him from leaving.

Probably my favorite song on the album is “All I Ever Wanted”, which marches right along to a steady dance-worthy beat that leads into the chorus of “All I ever wanted / All I ever wanted / Was a simple way to get over you”. She’s tired of chasing him around and wants him to let her go.

“Already Gone” is the story of a relationship that’s already ended, although one person may not want it to. “I want you to know / it doesn’t matter where we take this road / Someone’s gotta go.” It’s a love story repeated far too many times.

In “If I Can’t Have You” we hear the danger of infatuation. If I can’t have you, then I don’t want anyone… but I really want you. It’s another song on the album with a heck of a dance beat. Hard to stop from at least tapping your toes.

In the category of the weirdest song name on the album, we have “Whyyawannabringmedown” which almost has a heavy rap beat to it. This is a fun rock anthem that may not have Clarkson’s signature soaring voice, but was probably a lot of fun for her to record and sing on tour.

“Long Shot” and “Impossible” then go back to the more traditional Clarkson sound – a mix of pop synth, guitars, and drum beats. “Long Shot” talks about things being a long shot, but sometimes you have to throw “caution to the wind.” “Impossible” continues the theme – being told something seems impossible and then proving them wrong. You have to take chances, stumble, and fall along the way – but you can’t stop at the first sign of resistance.

The album goes back to much of what made Clarkson’s Breakaway album work. The pop-ish arrangements of guitar, synthesizers, and drums simply enhance her pop-ready lyrics and style. With her last album, My December not garnering praise as a dark set of post-breakup songs and no clear popular single for airplay, I think she knew it was time to go back to what’s made her career soar.

All I Ever Wanted still has some of that inward-looking feel of My December while making it more what people want to hear. How much of that was her record label and producers and how much was her I wonder? But we can only hope she’s past her dark period and ready to sing for us again.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this and other Kelly Clarkson albums at Amazon:

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Music Review: 2009 GRAMMY Nominees CD

Hey all…

Every year the GRAMMY Awards come around and prove once again that I am listening to the wrong radio stations. The 2009 collection is no different. The 2009 GRAMMY Nominees CD includes an amazing cross-section of the radio waves, some of which I hadn’t heard before listening to the CD!

2008 was a great year for pop, rock, and R&B artists across the board, and on February 8, 2009, we’ll know who wins in the usual categories: Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Coldplay’s album and song “Viva La Vida” is up in multiple categories, including Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or group with Vocals. It’s amazing how many times I’ve seen amateur renditions of this song on YouTube this year.

Next we have Estelle with her song “American Boy” (featuring Kanye West) off her album Shine. “American Boy” is up for Song of the Year and faces some stiff competition in the category.

After that we have Sara Bareilles “Love Song” released as a single in 2008, which is up for Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. “Love Song” has received a ton of play on my local radio stations, and I have to admit it’s pretty catchy. I haven’t checked out the rest of her album Little Voice, but hope to do so.

Ne-Yo’s album Year of the Gentleman is up for Album of the Year. You’ll find the first track, “Closer” on the Nominees CD.

And Ne-Yo is competing with Lil Wayne for Album of the Year. Lil Wayne’s album Tha Carter III is represented on the CD by “Got Money”, which also features T-Pain.

One of my own favorite albums of the year, Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, is up for Album of the Year and Record of the Year. The song “Please Read the Letter” is on the CD represents the album and shows the fruit of this amazing duo.

Radiohead, another great group with staying power, is up for Album of the Year with In Rainbows. “House of Cards” is on the CD and proves that Radiohead still has what it takes to create amazing music.

Lady Antebellum came on the country music scene last year and is up for Best New Artist. Their song “Love Don’t Live Here” from their self-titled album is on the CD.

The Jonas Brothers are also up for Best New Artist. Their song “Burnin’ Up” is off their album A Little Bit Longer. This is a hugely popular group at my eldest daughter’s elementary school.

Jazmine Sullivan is another artist up for Best New Artist. Her album Fearless is represented on the CD with her song “Need U Bad.”

Also in the running for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance is Duffy. Her song “Mercy” haunted me for a while until I discovered who sang it. It’s off Duffy’s album Rockferry and has a distinct rock/soul vibe.

In the running for Record of the Year is M.I.A.‘s album Kala. You’ll find the song “Paper Planes” on the Nominees CD.

Competing for “most nominations” with Coldplay is Adele, who is up for Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Record of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Her album 19 is represented by the song “Chasing Pavements” on the CD.

Katy Perry is another artist who gets a ton of airplay on our local radio stations here, with “I Kissed a Girl” (off her album One of the Boys) being very popular. Perry is up for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Leona Lewis‘ song “Bleeding Love” is another of those heard regularly around here. Her album Spirit is up for Record of the Year and she’s up for best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

My wife is a fan of Pink’s song “So What” from her album Funhouse. Pink is up for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Gnarls Barkley is back with a new album The Odd Couple. Their song “Going On” can be found on the CD and they are up for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Onerepublic is also quite popular on our local radio stations, and I’ve heard “Apologize” reguarly over the last few months. The song is on their album Dreaming Out Loud and the group is up for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.

Also up for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals is Maroon 5 with their latest album It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (love the title!). Their song “Won’t Go Home Without You” can be found on the Nominees CD.

And finally, the Eagles released their first new album in quite a while — Long Road Out of Eden. This amazing group is up for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals as well, with their song “Waiting In the Weeds” on the Nominees CD.

So as you can see, it’s quite a cross-section of the music industry again this year. I wish there were more independent artists represented, but they often don’t have the marketing money to make that possible. Even so, there is still a ton of great music on the Nominees CD. I’d encourage you to pick up a copy and take a listen before the GRAMMY Awards show on February 8, 2009 on CBS! I know I’ll be watching!

Also be sure to check out the GRAMMY website for more information about all of these artists and The Academy.

–Fitz

p.s. Check out the album here: 

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