Any artist coming off a successful debut album fears the notorious sophomore slump, but when you’re the product of a hit reality series the pressure to prove yourself as a serious contender is even more daunting.
That’s why Kelly Clarkson’s second disc, “Breakaway,” is such a surprise. Not only has the winner of the first season of “American Idol” scored a huge hit, she’s actually won new fans along the way.
The album’s title says it all. Clarkson has managed to pull away from her squeaky clean “Idol” image with an edgier pop sound and sexy costumes like the hip-baring lingerie tops she wears in the “Behind These Hazel Eyes” video without alienating her core fan base.
She co-wrote half of the songs on “Breakaway” and tapped Ben Moody (ex-Evanescence), Avril Lavigne and Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk to craft a more rock feel.
The kicker was one of this year’s most irresistible pop-rock crossovers, “Since U Been Gone.” It’s everywhere — piped into casinos, wafting through speakers at Gap.
Clarkson defiantly belting the chorus is enough to make the Idol resistors cave.
It’s no longer a surprise when an Idol winner scores a No. 1 single or album out of the gate, but who would have guessed that Clarkson could topple the power of her initial post-”Idol” run?
She has two singles in Billboard’s Top 25. The dramatic ballad-rocker “Hazel Eyes” currently sits at No. 7, while “Since U Been Gone” still hangs on at No. 25. The album is at No. 8.
I’m not saying she’ll steal any fans away from Bruce Springsteen when the pair go head to head Sunday night (Bruce at the Charlotte Coliseum, Kelly at Cricket Arena), but a few music lovers, including myself, may be a tad conflicted.