Kelly Clarkson | All I Ever Wanted

Sony BMG (2009)
By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  March 23, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars

 

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Of all of the myths propagated in rock and roll, "it's the singer not the song" must be the most disingenuous. Because, really, we all know in our hearts that it's both.

Kelly Clarkson may have an atomic-vocal-cord situation that allows her to level songs put in front of her like Godzilla frying Tokyo to a crisp, but My December — her 2007 self-penned ode to her own romantic immolation — proved that she can't just sing the phone book (as her Idol mentors were wont to suggest). Missteps aside, Clarkson has once again hit pop gold with All I Ever Wanted's crushing siren song, "My Life Would Suck Without You" (written with producer Max Martin). Elsewhere, her latest album finds success, oddly enough, with two Katy Perry throw-aways — turns out Clarkson is more convincing than Perry at belting the clarion call to chastity that is "I Do Not Hook Up."

Clarkson is unusual in that her vocal inflection sounds pretty much the same whether she's singing about being in love or being jilted; I had to make several return trips to the lyric sheet to clear up which songs were love letters and which were screw-yous. But this sort of tone-deaf emotional bludgeoning tends to work in her favor on monstrous power ballads like "Cry" and "Already Gone," which linger in your memory long after the Max Martin love hangover fades. When she pounds you with that hammer-of-the-gods behemoth of a voice, you have no choice but to get out of the way or get flattened.
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