Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Awful Truth About Me and Kelly Clarkson

It’s time the truth came out. I realise what it means – I’ve already made arrangements for any hipster rock credentials I may have earned to this point to be surrendered; my Death Cab t-shirt is permanently "in the wash", my Bright Eyes CD is being packaged up to be sent to my sister and I’ve instructed the local video store to never, ever rent me ‘Dig!’ But it has to be said.

I like Kelly Clarkson.

At the risk of sounding nine years old, I don’t "like her" like her, though I will concede she’s not exactly a strain on the eyes. It was probably inevitable – most of the bands I quietly champion are radio friendly themselves, if only some station over here would f-wording realise it.

The breakthrough for Ms. Clarkson and I came late one night when I’d left MTV on (or possibly VH1, I don’t really keep track of these things) while I checked the doors and windows before going to bed. The video for her latest song, ‘Breakaway’ came on. If you haven’t seen it, it’s one of those ‘random tour snapshot montage’ videos that’s become really popular lately – I know that Foo Fighters and Trivium have done them, at least – mixed with "Live" footage. "Live" goes in quote marks because whereas there’s cheering and chanting at the beginning and end, the actual song is very obviously the studio recording. I never got the point of this. Anyway, the video is well done, and I found myself thinking, "Man, this is a good song."

And I stand by that statement. Someone in the office (Incidentally, I’m working now. More on this later) put her most recent album onto the communal copy of iTunes, so I listened and – God help me, I like it. It’s not groundbreaking, it’s not controversial but dammit, it’s fun.

Just a brief aside- I feel vaguely guilty about describing an album with so many songs about heartbreak and parental abuse/neglect as ‘fun’, but it is. Most of them are toe-tappers at least, some of them are even stick-in-your-head catchy. My favourite is still ‘Breakaway’; and yes, I know it was the theme music for ‘The Princess Diaries 2’. Don’t even write in.

I couldn’t help but feel while listening to the album ‘Breakaway’ that Journey were surprisingly prescient (for an 80s hair-rock band, anyway) and that Kelly Clarkson is the girl described in ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. Read the mini-biography on Wikipedia and listen to the song. You’ll see what I mean.

Anyway – in short, Kelly Clarkson’s all right in my book. Now let’s drop this before I start to feel like one of those people who tries to convince you that Avril Lavigne is punk.

Now… by way of redeeming myself, let’s talk Pearl Jam. I watched ‘Pearl Jam – VH1 Storytellers’ last Sunday and all I could think about was that I’ve been far too hard on Eddie Vedder lately. I was thoroughly convinced that he’d lost it – I still think there were a few years there where he was ‘in the office, but away from his desk’, if you get my meaning. Anyway, whatever happened during that phase, he’s back, and I couldn’t be happier. Honestly, I can’t remember an album that affected me as deeply as ‘Ten’ did (with the possibility of REM’s ‘Automatic’) – not even ‘Nevermind’ which was the life changing album for my generation. I can think of at least a dozen girls that Pearl Jam songs remind me off (though for at least three quarters of them it’s a pretty fuzzy picture by now) and a half-dozen guys who I hung out with, having nothing else in common but that album. Good times.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a job now. I’m (God help me) a features editor. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened, but it seems to be working out – I haven’t revealed myself to be tragically inept so far, so let’s hope that continues.

I’m ditching the ‘random top ten’ gimmick for a while, not least of all because it turns out John Mayer did it in ‘Esquire’ a few months back. It might show up for a while again, but instead you’ll have to settle for a new space I call ‘Stop, Look and Listen’. Basically it just tells you what I’m listening to, reading, and watching on TV at the moment. Nothing too exciting. I’ll try and get pictures in there soon.

Anyway, until next time…