It is my
job duty privilege to inform and educate you in this letter about about certain misconceptions. It seems to be the opinion of most music listeners that you can’t listen to pop music because there is something unethical about it. Maybe because some pop singers don’t write their own songs or perhaps because they don’t play guitar. Or maybe because they put on make-up for publicity shots. Perhaps you hate how much money and fame they have for simply having a pretty face and charismatic personality.
So it is an odd twist of irony that the biggest critics of pop, who say that the music is bad, completely focus on the outer details, like image and money, and the behind the scene details, like who actually wrote the song and performed the instruments. They completely miss the fact that there is actually a song there composed by someone and sung by someone and produced by someone and made into a final product.
A bloody fine song should be a bloody fine song, regardless of whether a singer is singing a song she didn’t write. And a terrible song is a terrible song, whether performed by Brittney Spears or your favorite band. Music is just an expression of notes by different mediums.
The first winner of American Idol was Kelly Clarkson and her new CD is Breakaway. The question, then, to ask is not how much money Clarkson is making from the CD or how cute her face is on the cover. Nor is the question how many songs she wrote. The question to ask is how the landscape of notes presented on the album holds up.
The answer reveals itself after a few listens. There are, as with many albums a handful of really strong songs, a few bad songs, then a good percentage of average songs. Most of the songs don’t grate as much as most pop today, and this is due to the strength of Clarkson’s voice. The best songs unleash that voice and allow it to power choruses and soar to spine-tingling heights. The bad songs have her lay back to try and croon through the track.
The best track, “Since U Been Gone,” was not written by Clarkson. She didn’t perform any instruments. All she did was learn the song, get in the recording studio and sing it. It’s her best vocal performance on the CD and the backing song does just that… backs her up. There’s a vibrant life to the song that goes beyond the trite issues that scars pop music. And that’s what makes the song good.
While none of the other songs quite reach that height, there are four or five other tracks that are pretty good. And the greatness of “Since U Been Gone” reaches out to the whole CD and makes the whole thing listenable. The same way a football team has individual players of varying degrees of skill, one player can come onto the team and be the difference maker that makes every other player around him stronger.
I will understand if you disagree. I will understand if you can’t stand the CD. I will even let you make fun of me. But I’ll always defend my right to enjoy something that isn’t made the way you think music should be.