Kelly Clarkson

RCA, 2004

REVIEW BY: Elizabeth Crowder


I am willing to make an admission to those who are about to read this review -- I love reality TV. Call this a fatal flaw if you choose, but the thought of putting yourself on display in front of God and America is voyeuristic enough to entice a psych minor like me. Something in the way people are willing to sell their souls for 15 minutes of fame stirs my sadistic streak, I guess.

American Idol is one of the top shows in the reality TV genre, and its firstborn star, Kelly Clarkson, presents a pop CD which teeters on rock in the right light. As winner in 2002 of this singing contest where my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 America chooses its newest star, Clarkson was unfortunately put into a mold of pop princess along with Britney, Jessica and Christina.

While her songs are intense (notably "Behind These Hazel Eyes" and  "Because Of You"), they lack the heart of a true performer. Vocally sound and lyrically strong, Clrakson created expectations of an album with more staying power and diversity. Granted, the title cut gives a picture of who Clarkson was versus who she wants to be, but the performance falls short of leaving a lasting impression.

"You Found Me" echoes the feeling of being uncovered after being pushed aside, then is followed by "I Hate Myself for Losing You," showing the internal pain of allowing someone you care for to get away.  Many songs seem to contradict each other, running the emotional spectrum so swiftly that you become numb to any of the feelings these songs present.

"Walk Away," my personal favorite cut, encourages the listener to get out of a bad situation, and has an edgy feel to the melody and guitar riffs which makes it a great "singing in the car song." However, Breakaway is full of such “important” songs, seeming to overreach while trying to be significant. Like many of the pop icons of the late 1990s/early 2000s, Clarkson wants to be a role model.

Her song choices reflect this, creating an album which is powerful but almost too meaningful, as if she is trying to overcompensate for the fluff of American Idol by becoming a Serious Singer and Songwriter. Case in point: "Beautiful Disaster," a concert cut which is beautifully performed, proving her actual merit as a solo artist, but lacks conviction.

This album is not terrible by any means, and gained high acclaim including two Grammy awards and four Top 10 hits. Part of me wants to celebrate such success from a strong young female performer, but I stop short of congratulations when the songs overpower the concepts they represent. Breakaway was intended to allow Clarkson to... well... break away from who she was believed to be. As much as I applaud the effort, this album seems more contrived and less natural, making me feel like she’s overcompensating for her musical beginnings.

Rating: C+

User Rating: A



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