Breakaway – Kelly Clarkson – 2004
Claimed Sales: 15m
First listen?: No
Format Listened?: Apple Music
The original American Idol I’m not sure there’s any pop singer of the last few decades as instantly likable as Kelly Clarkson. She has an infectious personality, why America and eventually the rest of the world fell in love with her so quickly, but it’s her voice that was not only impressive then but has stood ahead of nearly all of her contemporaries for well over a decade. She’s a properly brilliant performer and no matter what genre she lays her hand to, she’s topped the pop, dance, adult and country charts in the US, she delivers the goods. None more-so than on this, her true breakthrough album. Breakaway kicks off with a series of huge hits that each capture a different side of her personality. Since U Been Gone is the Max Martin pop smash that still sounds absolutely massive, Behind These Hazel Eyes is the dramatic rock ballad that features the best vocals of Clarkson’s career, the title track is a more understated acoustic led mid tempo that’s born for car ride singalongs, while Because of You is the emotional centerpiece of the record. One of the 4 songs that Clarkson helped to pen here, it’s a harrowing pop song and while it ends up as one of the album’s biggest vocal moments it still sounds deeply stark and personal. If the album fell to pieces after his stellar run of great songs it would still be worthwhile, but thankfully the quality is high from start to finish. The epic Hear Me and I Hate Myself For Losing You are less focused than the hit singles, but the attitude on standout Walk Away and sheer drama of Addicted is thrilling. The influence of her contemporaries is strong, there’s the big popstar moments, Ben Moody supplying an Evanescence style gothic rock style to other songs and the rocky edge of the aforementioned Avril co-write Breakaway. There isn’t a bad track here, but it’s Clarkson’s performance throughout that truly shines. Closing with a live version of a song from her debut, Beautiful Disaster where she sounds better live than on some of the studio recorded tracks is a fitting way to end an album as strong as Breakaway. I genuinely think it has aged better than just about any of the other pop albums of the era and the laugh is that Kelly Clarkson sounds just as good, if not better now than she did back in 2004.
Will I listen again?: Definitely. And hopefully I will finally be able to experience Since U Been Gone live.
Best Track: Behind These Hazel Eyes has always been my favourite Kelly Clarkson song. A melodramatic banger.