our score: 2.5 out of 5.0
nearly a year since the end of American Idol's first season to
craft and perfect her debut album, the initial buzz on Kelly Clarkson
began to wane as interest in Idol's first winner fell off. The
release of her double A-side single all the way back in September
was a distant memory, as neither song really had the staying power
to stick around in casual pop fans' minds. So, it was with a considerably
less bombastic manner than was expected that Clarkson's full-length
debut came to light.
major culprit in this less than exciting release is the relative
dullness of Thankful's first single, "Miss Independent."
Co-written by Christina Aguilera, and sounding quite similar to
Aguilera's "dirrty" pop, the track's mediocrity did
little to help spur excitement for Thankful. And this,
unfortunately, tends to be the case throughout the album.
pigeonhole Clarkson into one specific genre (Clarkson's initial
title for the album was Pigeonhole This), Thankful
covers a fairly wide array of the musical map; country-crossover
on "Just Missed the Train," Gospel / R&B on "The
Trouble With Love Is," and pop-piano balladry on "Anytime."
A wise decision marketing-wise, this variety will undoubtedly
give Clarkson plenty of audience to work with before its decided
what her particular "expertise" will be. The problem
however, is that by covering such a wide area, Thankful
becomes more a convoluted amalgamation of songs rather than a
coherent single work.
each of the songs tends to keep as close to "safe" as
possible. Songs tend to gravitate toward love, heartbreak, and
the embrace of feminity - all pretty standard fare in pop music
in 2003. Production is also unbelievably predictable, which in
turn pushes Clarkson's vocals more to the forefront than would
otherwise be the case. But then again, Clarkson's vocals are what
most fans are likely looking forward to after seeing her evolution
through American Idol's first season.
most disappointing about Thankful is the fact there's
nothing extraordinary here, even vocally. Clarkson was voted as
one of the top upcoming talents by both Idol's judges
and the American Idol viewing audience (who, if ratings
are any indication, are a numerous lot), and one would have hoped
for something with a bit more of that "jaw-dropping"
appeal we expect from the best. Instead what we get is another
pop singer who, as talented as she may be, pales in comparison
to her more established peers and would likely not have enjoyed
half the attention she has received if she were not a star before
even releasing an album.
The Trouble With Love Is
2. Miss Independent
4. Some Kind of Miracle
5. What's Up Lonely?
6. Just Missed the Train
7. Beautiful Disaster
8. You Though Wrong (featuring Tamyra Gray)
11. A Moment Like This (New Mix)
12. Before Your Love (New Mix)