by Kelly Clarkson, pop (2003)

I put on Kelly Clarkson's post-American Idol victory debut CD while nursing extreme bitterness and heartbreak about Lashundra "Trenyce" Cobbins' elimination from the second season of that (no-)"talent" show. I'm free from bitterness now. Thank you, Kelly Clarkson, for showing me the extent of poor Trenyce's degradation if she wins. At least the UK Pop Idol winner, Will Young, keeps his dignity as he manages to bring (mostly) to life the selection of Westlife-lite ballads and bossonova blues they make him sing. But apparently Clarkson is groomed to be the new Christina Aguilera, only more wholesome. There is even a Christina Aguilera reject in here, the first single Miss Independent.

In a way, this approach could work, as teenaged fangirls are notorious for being very judgmental on female celebrities' sexuality even as they would willingly sleep with their male icons if given the opportunities. But then again, where's Mandy Moore today? Clarkson's image and music is reminiscent of a pre-Dirrty Xtina, and it's not an entirely good thing.

Filled with tired ballads and nondescript pop fluff, this CD shows no evidence of that Aretha Franklin-fixated lovely young lady who has a good voice and good showmanship. The only time this CD comes to life is when it allows Clarkson to break free from overproduced studio pop and showcase just good she can be in singing unpretentious pop songs. This only happens during Beautiful Disaster, a track that is leagues better than the other dreary pap pieces on the CD. Here, Clarkson's almost country rock in a fine way. The hook is stronger and the choruses are perfect to sing along to. Away from the overproduced nondescript R&B numbers that just aren't strong enough to be memorable, Clarkson is an adequate singer. She just needs a chance to prove herself, and singing songs written by people who just wants her to imitate the current fad will get her only nowhere.

Listening to this CD, it's obvious that the people running Clarkson's career are fools. They make her star in a movie that's going to be a critical dud - sealing her fate when it comes to future credibility, not that she has much to start with - and they make her sing some of the most overproduced but mediocre and forgettable tracks around. As if having to pretend to make out with that walking piece of asexual celery Justin Guarini isn't humiliation enough. 19 Entertainment just wants to exploit Clarkson and make as much as they can from her one or two CDs, but if this young lady has any sense in her, she'd be calling in her lawyers to scrutinize her contract for any loopholes now.

Rating: 47

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