Newest Review: ... a slightly abrasive and noisy pop-rock triumph. Without a doubt, one of the best of her career. The theme is continued on 'Judas', which i... more
A Dark, Daring and Destitute December...
My December - Kelly Clarkson
Member Name: SmoothCriminal
My December - Kelly Clarkson
Advantages: Emotive vocals, varied production and compelling themes
Disadvantages: Two weaker tracks, less radio-friendly if you are a pop-fan.
Kelly plays the role of the wronged lover on most tracks. The opening song, 'Never Again', is probably the most commercial song on this collection. The lyrics are brilliant: "I hope the ring you gave to her turns her finger green" she hisses on the first line. The pounding drums, soaring chorus and chilling vocals - particularly in the bridge - make for a slightly abrasive and noisy pop-rock triumph. Without a doubt, one of the best of her career. The theme is continued on 'Judas', which is characterised by pulsating guitars and powerful vocals as Kelly sings "Couldn't believe, couldn't believe/How you deceived, you deceived/I never thought that you would do that to me." A simple lyric, with a profound delivery.
Some of the louder tracks are let down by their lack of melody in the chorus. 'One Minute' and 'Hole' are conceptually, amazing songs, but are a little too shouty for my liking. 'One Minute' deals with the exhaustion and confusion of being on tour, where nothing seems permanent or familiar. "You're going crazy, running on empty" she sings robotically on the first verse, trying to convey her fatigue. 'Hole' similarly deals with feelings of emptiness and a sense of being lost - the guitar riff is heavily influenced by 70s rock music, and adds a new dimension to Kelly's sound that I have never heard before. A good addition to the set, although the chorus is a little weak.
She is at her strongest, lyrically, when she is not simply speaking through the voice of a woman scorned. 'Don't Waste Your Time' is about a friend who has taken advantage of you, and let you down, so you choose to let go of them. Kelly's emotive delivery is what really makes the song, and the easy melody is a good break from the noisy guitars of previous tracks. 'How I Feel' has more electronic elements to the production, and adds a bit more versatility to the flavour of the set. I just love the lyrics to it, as Kelly describes her life surrounded by married couples and children, while she remains single. A lot of people can relate to this tongue-in-cheek track, delivered with half humour, and half despair.
The album really succeeds in the stripped back, mid-tempo ballads. 'Sober' is a slow-building, strangely uplifting track that uses addiction as a metaphor for getting over a breakup. The slow, slightly stagnant track gradually builds momentum to a soaring climax, where Kelly's voice carries the bittersweet emotion of the song flawlessly. It's one of those tracks you will listen to over and over, as it becomes more spectacular with every listen. 'Maybe' is probably one of my favourite Kelly tracks of all time - the lyrics deal with being in love with someone, who is unwilling to be with you. Kelly plays the role of the borderline-obsessive woman who watches his life from a distance, waiting for him to come back to her. The guitar work on the track is amazing, and the gradual crescendo that the production builds to is rousing to the say the least. A flawless track for me.
The album is let down by the slightly listless 'Haunted' and 'Yeah', which are by no means bad songs, but are a little forgettable on listening to them. Even now, I struggle to remember their melodies despite owning the album for five years. 'My December' may have clearly benefited from being two tracks shorter.
The closing track, is artistically like nothing Kelly has ever done before. Allegedly, it was written at the lowest point of her career in California, on one of the dates of the 'Breakaway Tour'. The ethereal vocals, are haunting and sound nothing like Kelly has ever recorded before. She is completely destitute and alone, questioning her life and talking to God, maybe even contemplating suicide. The track is so dark given her previous work, yet it is such an amazing track, and such a deliciously dark close to the album.
The album is by no means perfect, and could benefit from a couple of more melodic up-tempo tracks, however, this is a fantastic dark and slightly gothic rejection of all things commercial - so the absence of radio-friendly tracks is warranted. Kelly's flawless vocals, rich in emotion are clearly made more compelling by her emotional ties which were forged in the writing process. For anyone who enjoys Kelly Clarkson's music, this album is a must-have. Anyone who likes the rock or singer-songwriter sound, give 'My December' a chance, it will definitely offer-up a pleasant surprise.
Highlights: Never Again, Sober, Judas, How I Feel, Maybe, Irvine
Summary: A dark, creatively-bold move that ultimately pays off for Clarkson