Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway

December 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Kelly Clarkson | 2 Comments
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  1. Breakaway
  2. Since U Been Gone
  3. Behind These Hazel Eyes
  4. Because Of You
  5. Gone
  6. Addicted
  7. Where Is Your Heart
  8. Walk Away
  9. You Found Me
  10. I Hate Myself For Losing You
  11. Hear Me
  12. Beautiful Disaster (Live)

Thankful found Kelly Clarkson etched in a typical genre that many Idol’s find themselves in. Despite being a good, it was a very predictable route for her to go in. With her second album, Breakaway, she literally breaks free from the tired pop formula and discovers her defining genre. The soulful roots of her previous effort return and they’re infused with a rock sound that suits her voice wonderfully. The music has much more of an impact and her voice is far more impressive. I didn’t think she would ever go this hard into pop rock but she excels at it. It has become her staple genre and Breakaway showcases the beginning of her dive into it. This is her most successful album and the most successful by an Idol to date.

I’ve never cared for the title track, Breakaway, but I’ve warmed up to it over the years. Kelly opens this bright number with some nice vocalizing and she’s joined by a serene acoustic guitar. Her voice is crisp and soft but still very strong. The instrumental gives off a sense of freedom, or a sense of obtaining freedom, which is something she has done with this album. “I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly/I’ll do what it takes ’til I touch the sky/and I’ll make a wish/take a chance/make a change/and breakaway,” she proclaims in the chorus while the guitar crescendos to an even more optimistic melody. The cheery sound really sticks to you and the inclusion of strings in the bridge gives it some edge with its dramatic flair. I like this much more than I used to and her vocals are fantastic during the last chorus. It’s stronger than her old material and gives a sneak peak of what is to come. Since U Been Gone is her iconic song. I don’t think I could find someone who hasn’t heard it. It is one of the best break-up songs of the decade and the one that got me into her music. “Here’s the thing we started out friends/it was cool but it was all pretend,” she begins with a steady bass and guitar beat. It’s a bit quiet until she vents in the chorus, “but since u been gone/I can breathe for the first time/I’m so moving on/yeah, yeah.” The hook is catchy, edgy and the rock elements bring it to a higher level. My favourite part is the bridge where she employs a higher tone to bash the ex-boyfriend and reaches the climax with a piercing belt, “shut your mouth I just can’t take it/again and again and again and again.” This leads to a short but delicious gritty guitar riff before moving to the final chorus which is filled with amazing ad-libs and backing vocals. The song is incredible and it’s no surprise that it’s praised by many to be one of her best.

The previous song may have begun my love for Kelly but Behind These Hazel Eyes cemented it. This song is dark, emotional and it features a heavy composition. Immediately, angry guitars and vocalizing comes in, leading to the beautiful verse which consists of a lovely, light guitar and drum melody, “seems like just yesterday/you were a part of me/I used to stand so tall/I used to be so strong.” The melody picks up during the pre-chorus and becomes full-fledged pop rock during the chorus. Kelly delivers a tragic and hateful vocal performance, “here I am, once again/I’m torn into pieces/can’t deny it, can’t pretend/just thought you were the one.” I love how her vocals express pain and rage all at once and her screaming backing vocals are a superb touch. The highlight and the peak of the song is the bridge. I’ve always loved it since the first time I heard it. The melody morphs into a spiral of hard and dark instruments while Kelly provides my favourite vocal moment. The belt that she hits is stunning and I love how the music fades away to accent it, “seeing you it kills me now/no, I don’t cry on the outside/anymore.” It’s an epic moment and the final chorus is made better with strong ad-libs and vocal runs. I’m a fan because of this song and I can never get tired of it. Next up is the first ballad, Because Of You, and she wrote it when she was younger to deal with her parents’ divorce so it’s the most personal song in her musical repertoire. Even if you haven’t experienced the subject the song deals with it’s still easy to relate to. She sings to a haunting piano and it sends chills down your spine. Her performance is raw and she lays all of her emotions out on display. Her delicate timbre carries the song well and the chorus is filled to the brink with her despair, “because of you/I never stray too far from the sidewalk/because of you/I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt.” The added percussion beats and strings drive the emotion further to the forefront. In the bridge, the strings are much more prominent and her backing vocals are to die for. There’s a second set of vocals supporting her main vocals and the two come together beautifully, “you never thought of anyone else/you just saw your pain/and now I cry in the middle of the night/for the same damn thing.” I love the stripped chorus and how it returns back to its original form but is enhanced by her powerful vocals.

Gone follows in the footsteps of the first few songs but its rock elements are more in-your-face. The guitar bounces in the verses and Kelly mimics it with her voice, giving it a dramatic snap. The chorus is a lot more fluid as the bounce is done away with and her sassy tone is exquisite, “if you think you can walk right through my door/that is just so you/coming back when I’ve finally moved on/I’m already gone.” It sounds so good and it’s very catchy. The rock influence isn’t angry or depressing so it’s refreshing and ends up being one of the lighter moments on the album. It’s great to see her classic belting make a return at the end and it’s a great way to finish. The most impressive song and one of my all-time favourites is the dark and sensational ballad, Addicted. Despite being extremely dark, the song is sex to the ears due to her alluring vocals which carry a deadly air. The piano melody is simple but effective and displays the emotional anguish that Kelly is in. I love how descriptive the lyrics are because it makes for a strong visual experience, “it’s like you’re a leech/sucking the life from me/it’s like I can’t breathe/without you inside of me.” It’s beautiful and grotesque at the same time, a great display for the addiction of love. The song progressively gets more intricate and louder as it approaches the chorus. It’s in the chorus that it shifts to a power ballad and Kelly’s vocals are so strong and mesmerizing as she expresses her conflicting situation, “it’s like I can’t breathe/it’s like I can’t see anything/nothing but you/I’m addicted to you.” The layering of her backing vocals, both high and low, is stunning and adds so much to the chorus. A dramatic set of strings appears in the bridge as she sings in an infectious fast pace with haunting backing vocals supporting her. The tempo changes halfway in and becomes even more aggressive as two angry sets of her vocals come in. This is a masterpiece and the best track on the album.

I’ve never been a fan of Where Is Your Heart and I thought it was total filler. Now, labeling it a filler track is too harsh because it’s actually not that bad. A lighthearted string and piano melody starts it off and her voice takes on a sad but sweet tone. It’s nice to see her move away from the depressing and angry tones that have so far dominated the album and that’s one of the reasons I like it more than I used to. A drum beat makes an appearance in the chorus and the strings take on a more important role than they do in the verses. Her subdued vocal approach in the first half is lovely and in the second half of the song the chorus gets an edgy guitar riff. Though not outstanding, it’s an enjoyable song with great vocals. Walk Away is the sassiest Kelly has ever been and it’s such a fun track. Like the last song, it also departs from the album’s usual themes but it’s much better. It’s catchy, full of attitude and she plays with her vocals a lot. In the verses, where she’s backed up by hard guitar and drum beats, she sings with attitude and she sounds quite sexy, “so before you point your finger/get your hands off of my trigger.” The chorus is a funky mess of screeching guitars and strong vocals, “I’m looking for attention/not another question/should you stay or should you go?/well, if you don’t have the answer/why are you still standing here?” It’s irresistibly groovy and the bridge takes it up another notch as she delivers one hell of a sassy fit, “I wanna man by my side/not a boy who runs and hides/are you gonna fight for me?/die for me?/live and breathe for me?/do you care for me?/‘cause if you don’t then just leave.” I’m always left in awe because of how amazing she sounds. It’s a great song and it’s powerful but the fact that it’s so fun makes it better.

You Found Me is adorable and it’s the only positive song about love. Surprisingly, the music isn’t happy or bright. Instead, it maintains the brooding sound of the other songs. The guitar is laced with moody beats and she sings in a very relaxed manner. You would expect an uplifting performance for a song like this but she still has a lingering sadness in her voice. I actually love that and a brighter sound does arise in the chorus so you do get a happy Kelly, “the ups and the downs/and you still didn’t leave/I guess that you saw what nobody could see/you found me.” It’s refreshing to finally have a hopeful track since the opening. The album’s first and only mishap is I Hate Myself For Losing You. This is average compared to the rest of the album and it’s because of the faulty production. Kelly sings well but she sings to a bland beat which makes for a mediocre listen. The pop rock elements are very unoriginal and nothing exciting happens. The beat is monotonous throughout and despite an increase in tempo in the chorus it still manages to be uninteresting. I like her vocals in the bridge because of how powerful they are and it’s the liveliest part of the track. On the other hand, Hear Me is amazing. Her fragile voice enters, joined by a melancholic piano that sets the mood for the entire track. The instrumental is so captivating and it emphasizes her soulful voice. I love how the verses are calm and soothing whereas the chorus is intense due to the blast of guitars and belting, “hear me/I’m cryin’ out/I’m ready now/turn my world upside down.” It’s her strongest delivery and the energy that’s infused in the chorus is infectious. I love her angry vocals and this song is filled with them, especially in the final chorus where she goes all-out. The album ends with Beautiful Disaster (Live) and this was the first time I actually heard this track. I prefer this to the studio version because it’s more emotional. The uplifting guitars are replaced by a solemn piano and it adds a new flavour to the song. The melody is steady throughout and it carries a sad feel. It sounds great as a piano-driven ballad and she sings it much better live.

Conclusion: Breakaway is a huge departure from Kelly’s debut. While she explored pop rock for a few songs, this album focuses solely on the genre and as a result is much more cohesive. Pop rock and Kelly go hand in hand and her voice sounds richer than it did before. Many of the songs no longer have the belts that she did in her debut because she doesn’t need to do them anymore. She’s already proven what a tremendous vocalist she is. Here, the focus is showcasing her voice in a new way. The soulful twang to her voice was overused and now she explores soft, elegant and sassy tones that she never fully utilized before. She doesn’t sound like a typical pop artist anymore. She’s matured as a singer and this album shows that.

Recommended Tracks: Addicted, Behind These Hazel Eyes, Since U Been Gone, Hear Me, Because Of You, Gone and Walk Away

Rating

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2 Comments »

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  1. This is what I would have liked her debut album to sound like. It’s so angst-y and her voice is freaking shining in Behind These Hazel Eyes; that’s her best song ever. I love this album and this review totally did it justice.

    • Me too! Her debut was so formulaic and they were molding her into a blues//soul singer but she’s much better as a pop rock artist. I’m so happy you liked the review :). It didn’t turn out as I imagined so I was a bit worried about it. Thanks!


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