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Music Review: Kelly Clarkson – My December

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First-season winner of American Idol Kelly Clarkson returns with her controversial new album, My December.

You can laugh now if you wish, it is that funny.

If you've been reading the paper or googling through search engine results for Clarkson, you may have come across some reported friction between her and her boss at RCA Records, Clive Davis. It wasn't anything completely worth worrying about. Davis hated that the album didn't have any of the poppy hits like "Since You've Been Gone" while Clarkson, who mostly penned this album, wanted to get away from the genre for something more edgy.

Not being a complete fan of Kelly Clarkson, I would take Davis at this word. Two albums in, My December is far darker than her previous albums. That's a bit early in the game to start getting angsty.

On top of that, the songs really aren't that good.

I like a good depressing song as much as anyone else, but I don't think an entire album of them would be good for my ears. And, if you are going to make depressing songs, take some style from Amos Lee's "Colors." It's happy in the melody, sad in the lyrics.

If Clarkson can't figure out how to do that, she should simply listen to Clive and go back to her old pop image to keep those dollars coming in. Either that or hope that Oprah Winfrey is looking to do a white version of The Color Purple on Broadway. Kelly is a puppet of her American Idol image, and she will continue to make headlines and posters if she stays there.

Leaving the pop music safety net after two albums means she's obviously got money in the bank. Right?

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About Matthew Milam

  • carly

    hi im carly um i disagree i think that this album is great i mean she wants to do different stuff i think she should go for it she acn pull it off so why not?? next album she does is a bluesy/jazz/rock thing and i think its gonna be great and all the dark songs.. she wanted to sing bout her life and she did i love the albumi dont thnk it could be better just my opinion…thx

  • john

    i agree with Carly! I bought the album a few weeks ago and i liked it very much. I think that kelly has grown considerably from Thankful and even from Breakaway. Some of her songs like Irvine, Sober, and How I feel or the highlights of the album. I don’t see why the crtics as well as her fans won’t just let her grow up. The fans made the same mistakes with Cyndi Lauper who was trying to grow up, but they didn’t support her in album or single sales. Kelly Clarkson will always though be creating great music, and she will be a a great artist in the future.

  • pat

    ^^i agree totally with ya’ll, i know, i love the album, and I think it’s soo awsome of her that she didn’t go Clive’s way and make Breakaway 2. And like ^^john said, she’s growing as an artist, each of her albums are different from each other and that’s good. Nobody wants the same album twice. It’s nice to get something new, you know. And the whole album isn’t all just sad, im crying songs, they’re different, and they rock! American Idol helped her show how versatile she is, she can literally sing anything, any genre, and sing it awsome.

  • mike

    This cd is way better than 1 listen will show. it is obvious that many critics did the crib notes version of listening to the album and didn’t give it a just hearing. The songs are not all sad at all in fact some are very hopeful.It seems that the label has chosen to make an example of Kelly by releasing negative statements about this cd before it’s release and then making very questionable choices for singles released to radio.

  • Nicole

    Look I wasn’t much of a Kelly fan, yea I did hum along to since you been gone a few times, but a fan I was not….I’m still not a big fan. Now before you jump down my throat Kelly fans, it wasn’t anything against her it just isn’t my choice of music. But I must admit…I did hear the album and well…enjoyed it. I am enough of a music fan to recognize and respect talent when talent is shown. This album makes it extremely hard to place Clarkson in the same league as her pop contemporaries, I think this album clearly places her above most of them. It takes various things for an artist to step up to her label and do an album that they want to do, most just agree and do what they are told…and sell millions of records along the way, and quite possibly lose their soul. A music fan, a true music fan will always appreciate when an artist realizes its not just about the money, its about the music, good music. It’s obvious Ms. Clarkson took a risk, but the mere fact that she did just that when most artist are too scared or money hungry to do just that, that deserves respect, maybe not fondness or likeability, but definately respect. Even if I’m not a big fan of most pop artist, I must admit that when she opens her mouth, there is no denying the talent, there is no denying that the girl can sing, and is quite possibly the biggest pop artist of her time.

  • Sam

    You don’t accept personal attacks, but Matthew Milam just personally attacked Kelly Clarkson, because “He’s NOT a Fan of Kelly”. Well, if you can’t take personal attacks, then don’t write them yourself!
    You are clueless to what a GOOD album is and it’s sad that you are in a position that you are allowed to be so critical. How many albums have you put out Matthew Milam? You go to ANY website that is related to kelly, Even YOURS and you see just how many people disagree with you. So how can YOU be so right? She has sold a respectable 2 millon copies in the US alone of “My December”. And she did it HER way.
    Kelly has one of the BEST vocals out there and she puts her heart and soul in “My December” and does what she needs to do as an artist.
    If you want to be a puppet for your company, go ahead. But kelly WILL be selling albums for a LONG, LONG, TIME. Way to go KELLY!

  • Tonya S

    I really hate people and most of all critics who jump on the bandwagon of those who dislike an artist because it’s not cool to like them. By admitting this girl has talent you’d be admitting that American Idol is more than a cookie cutter talent show that pumps out air headed singer after air headed singer who’s only fans are those little girls who spend hours dialing in to vote. Critics should simply state the truth, Kelly Clarkson is more than American Idol, she is a grammy winner, three grammys if I’m not mistaken and above that she’s a songwriter. If Kelly’s willing to take a financial loss in return for credibility and respect then bring on another My December because I think the album is truthful, stark, personal and beautiful. Who wants to hear another Breakaway, that album has been done.

  • “You don’t accept personal attacks, but Matthew >Milam just personally attacked Kelly Clarkson, because “He’s NOT a Fan of Kelly”. Well, if you can’t take personal attacks, then don’t write them yourself!”

    I didn’t personally attack Kelly. I attacked her logic at going against a man who knows how music works better than she does. She got her music contract because she was obligated to it, she didn’t neccessarily earn it.

    Clive’s apporach makes more sense because of where she came from. She’s still known for her “Idol” style, which is radio-friendly. To break out of that this early in the game is too big a shock to the system for those who already don’t like her as an artist. Now folks will think she’s trying too hard.

    “You are clueless to what a GOOD album is and it’s sad that you are in a position that you are allowed to be so critical. How many albums have you put out Matthew Milam? You go to ANY website that is related to kelly, Even YOURS and you see just how many people disagree with you.

    The reason I do not go to fan websites is that they are fans. They will love something to the point where any critical reasoning gets lost. I say this because I acted like that towards a few things I loved without understanding the basics of how entertainment works.

  • Sue

    I totally do not agree! I think My December is amazing, and so is she. A wonderful roll model!

  • victor

    are you kidding? i never liked the old bubblegum kelly because that’s so phoney and i only came to like her because of My December! you obviously don’t have some music taste in you.

  • qdome

    If she had come out with more pop hits you would say the same thing…puppet. In fact, Kelly Clarkson understands that the Clive Davis’ of the world don’t care about anyone after three albums (Hootie who?) – it is the industry staple: 1 with big push, 1 with low push, and 1 to say goodbye. She chose to not say goodbye by doing something creative and real (and yes, a bit dark and self obsessed).

    It simply isn’t cool to like anyone from American Idol in some circles, so that is where this comes from. How is that she stepped away from the formula for success, but is still a “puppet”???

    To truly enjoy “My December”, re-arrange the song order (songs that are really strong for a novice writer). 1, 4, 10, 5, 8, 3, and the rest.

    The CD has already sold over 500K copies…pretty good for a flop.

  • Donna

    I honestly think this is the best album she has done and I am really sick of all the critics trying to put her in a little box and tell her to go back to pop. He even said he doesnt really like Kelly Clarkson so wouldn’t his opinion be bias? I think both Never Again and Sober are great songs and I think Clive Davis wants to see this fail. I am really surprised about him because he use to be really edge I mean after all he represented Patti SMith ! Who is edger then her? What pop songs has she done Pissing in a river is that pop?

    I think everyone should give this album a chance and stop bashing it . Its like the critics so want to see her fail. What right do they have to critized what brilliant work have they done?

  • Yet another review to reflect what I have said in my article. Listen to the album, break it down, don’t just throw it out there as “On top of that, the songs really aren’t that good.”

    Sad offering man. Really sad..

  • He’s right, Matthew. You should have taken a cue from John C, and injected a buttload more hyperbole in your article.

  • Still not done Ray?…You were dealt with…

    Details are everything. There are none with this article, which is a “Review” not an “Opinion” article.

  • Pardon me? I was not dealt with by a long shot. And a review is an opinion. silly boy. Matthew is just a helluva lot more concise than you ever were.

  • LOL.. so true, an a review is one critics opinion…not necessarily the devine truth. Kelly Clarkson Rocks in my book and “My December” is a great record. The problem is people take reviews to heart without listening and drawing their own conclusions..

    Chicago’s #1 Kelly Clarkson Fan
    Philip Leodoro

  • daryl d

    Wow, so many Kelly Clarkson “fanboys” here. I have slowly become a Clarkson fan, even though I haven’t reviewed any of her albums here. I am very disturbed about how “My December” went down and I am convinced the negativity towards this album was “planned” by a couple of people who have a lot of influence. Kelly will be fine though. She’ll go back to making the fluffy pop songs that everybody loves.

  • Greg

    There’s not a thing WRONG with this CD.

    If Clive Davis had just shut up in the first place,there’d be no problem. He created his own firestorm,whether he knew it or not.

    If you listen to Breakaway,it’s not a happy CD,
    either!Breakup songs,questioning songs,and get the hell outa here songs.

    To bad we let has-been moguls dictate what we are supposed to like. My December should be compared to other emerging artists,not Breakaway. I like all of Kelly’s CD’s -because the ONE THING I buy them for is there – her voice!!!!!

  • sheri

    great album. the critic is an idiot and really didn’t listen to the album. he or she only read the controversy of the album, and wants to see a good talent and person in controversy or fall.


    Kelly’s MY DECEMBER CD will probably go down as the most under rated CD. It’s innovative, shows artistic songwriting talent, and well, there is no argument that this girl can sing!!

    Whatever – the media turned this into a 3 ring circus, and the so-called critiques didn’t give it a proper listen. This CD grows on you, and if anyone doesn’t get it, well that’s their problem,and their loss.

  • Kate

    Milam says the album is nothing but a dark album of depression?? Get the wax cleaned out of your ears. Be Still, Maybe, How I Feel, Yeah, and Can I Have A Kiss are hardly dark songs. I love the ballads on My December, and some of the songs are catchy like Maybe. Frankly, I think this is her most heartfelt and mature album to date, and it is her finest work yet. I think he justs want to jump along on the bandwagon with the media and tear this woman apart. The reason her album isn’t doing well is bascially the media which exaggerates the downfall of her album. Most people seem to be sheep and follow these idiots opinions. There was an agenda all from the beginning.

  • Kate, do you really believe Clarkson’s core audience actually reads those reviews, or even knows who Clive Davis is? You can’t blame the hobgoblin media on this one. The reason the album isn’t doing well is for the same reason that other albums don’t do well.

    Not enough people are buying it.

  • maryon

    the album is doing good, not good enough for been a kelly clarkson album bt still good. And people should’ve stop listen to bad reviews and start listen the cd and they’ll know it’s a great cd. Is one of the best out there and isn’t that dark as some had said, i’m addicted to this cd right now, and i want “Maybe” as a single, is such a great and addictive song, as all the songs onthis cd.

  • Kate

    Her first two albums went platinum, and the Breakaway CD has sold over 6 million copies. Oh yeah, no one purchased her first two albums with the latter winning two Grammy awards.

  • Matthew

    I absolutely love this album. I think it is her best album yet and I hope she continues to venture off and explore new musical possibilities. Favorite song? Maybe and Chivas I don’t agree with most of your “review” however, I do think you have some valid points. Clive does know what he is doing and he has continuously show us that he has a knack for talent. However, depending on how you look at it, you can go on either side. Kelly Clarkson is in it for the art, and saying an art is bad IS an opinion. Clive Davis is in it for the money. He wants to do it for the money. He HAS to. Today’s business leaves very room for people to not go mainstream considering the amount of CDs sold is falling every year.

    I think she did the right thing with this album. She went with her gut and I appreciate that she did. It’s easy to make hits when you’re already famous. The same can’t be the said when you are letting the world see another side of you especially one that isn’t so attractive. This entire “controversy” should never have gone in public anyways.

    Some corrections that need to be made….
    My December has sold 1 million+ worldwide, though not two million.
    Kelly Clarkson won two grammy’s, not three
    Kelly Clarkson also has stated that she is pretty much financially secured for the rest of her life.

    And this article IS much more of an opinion than a review. Too much voice, not enough facts.

  • Newtype

    In the end, if one doesn’t like her music, then they don’t have to listen to it. Now, the girl’s got skill. No doubts there, but I’m not a sucker for depressing songs. Especially two albums of nothing but sobbing and crying, that’s just waay too strong for me, and a major turn off. In the end, I don’t have to listen to the music, and I don’t lose sleep over that fact. So to all those Kelly-haters out there, just relax and get over it. She’s made a good name for herself and her music isn’t exactly for everyone. Nothing’s wrong with that, either.