I’m currently enjoying an advanced copy of Kelly Clarkson’s latest record, “All I’ve Ever Wanted”–on repeat might I add. Granted I’ve been a fan from the beginning, well, since she sang “Natural Woman” on Idol back in 2004, but “All I’ve Ever Wanted” is appropriately titled. It is exactly everything I hoped and wished Kelly would release, especially following the abysmal attempt at indie-pop, “My December” in 2007.
Thankfully, “All I’ve Ever Wanted”–due out March 10– is an up-beat, catchy, compilation of melody-driven pop tunes, breakup anthems, and the usual emotionally charged ballads Clarkson has become known for. It’s a direct diversion from My December at just the right time with exactly the right songs, producers, and writers–everything her previous attempt lacked.
The opening track, “My Life Would Suck Without You” is currently dominating airwaves and I would guess the second song on the album, “I Do Not Hook Up” isn’t far behind. The track was co-written by American Idol judge Kara Dioguardi and cheeky songstress Katy Perry, along with Greg Wells, and tells the tale of the boy who wants the girl who won’t put out. It’s a great party tune, and if nothing more, this is the kind of pop song I would want my kids listening to.
My current favorite track on the record is the sultry ballad “Cry,” which Clarkson co-wrote with Jason Halbert. The melodies in the hook are sick and the song is perfect for Clarkson’s vocals. Maybe this girl can write after all!
(Speaking of writing, Ryan Tedder from One Republic makes several appearances on “All I’ve Ever Wanted” as a co-writer. He wrote “Already Gone,” “If I Can’t Have You,” “Save You,” and “Impossible” with Clarkson, all of which are great additions to the album. Tedder has been cranking out pop hits non-stop since “Bleeding Love” and is a much needed breath of fresh air in the world of pop music.)
Clarkson’s new record continues with the title track, “All I’ve Ever Wanted,” which is a sultry, sassy up-tempo with a conflicted emotional centerpiece. On the verse Clarkson sings, “I’d rather walk alone/don’t wanna chase you round/Every day every day every minute.” Then in the chorus we find out how she really feels when she swoons, “All I ever wanted all I ever wanted/was an in-between to escape this desperate scene/where every lie reveals the truth/baby cause all I ever wated/all i ever wanted was you.” The beat is original and spunky and screams radio. I love it.
“If I can’t Have You” and “Save You” bring Tedder’s One-Republic-edge to the record. On “Save You” Clarkson sings about turning a blind eye to addiction. She wails, “There were times I’d wonder/Could I have eased your pain?/Why did I turn away?” in the hook, and then finishes the tune by promising, “Pretend it’s all the same/And there will be no pain, tonight/It’s gonna be alright.”
Hidden at the back end of the album is a little gem co-written by Katy Perry, entitled, “Longshot.” Perry’s influence on the track is pretty evident, especially in the verse’s quirky melody. The song itself is positive and optimistic, and with Clarkson’s mature vocal it doesn’t come across as cheeky as a potential Perry version might. (We love you Katy!)
Unfortunately “All I Ever Wanted” closes with a not-so-impressive tribute to staying true to ones self. The track entitled, “If No One Will Listen” is a bit overdone and seems a bit cheesy at first listen. Maybe it’s just one of those that has to grow on you? Regardless, after the dissapointment that was “My December,” “All I Ever Wanted” is quite a feat for Clarkson. She only proved herself wrong with this one; it’s a great record thanks to great producers and writers other than Clarkson herself. As much as we all love her, Clive Davis was right, and I’m glad she finally got the hint! Yay Kelly!