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Breakaway–Kelly Clarkson (2004)

In 2000s, 2004, family, pop, Rich's House of Vinyl on October 6, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Breakaway—Kelly Clarkson (2004)

Kelly Clarkson is a polarizing figure in my family.

My sister Lisa is a fan and has seen Clarkson perform nine times. My oldest son Jimmy is not a fan and wishes Clarkson would just walk away and preferably take Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber with her.

I fall somewhere in the middle of the debate though Jimmy probably has me pegged as a raging Clarkson fan. I did not pay attention when she was battling it out to become the very first American Idol, nor did I give much thought to Clarkson’s first album, Thankful.

I was completely prepared to not pay attention to Breakaway, her second disc, as well, though I started to hear occasional suggestions that I ought to give it a listen, particularly a fast-rising hit song called “Since U Been Gone.”

Still though, I didn’t pay attention, until one morning, following a rare Saturday workout at the Y, I heard a very catchy guitar-based tune coming over the radio in the locker room. Sure enough, it was “Since U Been Gone” and right then and there I had my Clarkson epiphany. What a great song, I thought. I guess I like Kelly Clarkson.

Here’s why “Since U Been Gone” is a great song: it just rocks. That’s why. Plus, it’s got an opening line that seems like the perfect way to start a 21st century pop classic: “Here’s the thing, we started out friends…” Don’t ask me why that’s so perfect, but like the rest of the song it just is. If I had to pick a perfect pop rock song from the last ten years, I would be seriously inclined to pick “Since U Been Gone.”

Still, even after I accepted “Since U Been Gone,” I was prepared for the Clarkson phenomena to be a one-song deal for me. Surely, I thought, the excellence of that one song could not be sustained over the course of an entire album, especially these days when the thought of sustaining any sort of quality over an album’s length seems like a quaint notion.

Bottom line, though, is that Breakaway really was, and remains, a great mainstream pop album, released during a decade when few artists really aimed for that kind of across-the-board acceptance, and when “pop” became sadly and mistakenly defined as the latest artists being foisted upon us by the Disney Channel.

But with Breakaway, Kelly defied that. She dared to make big pop hits that nearly everyone (except for Jimmy) could love. And Breakaway is knee-deep in hits—the title track, “Behind These Hazel Eyes,” “Walk Away,” and “Because of You” all followed “Since U Been Gone” up the charts. And, even if I don’t need every single track from Breakaway on my MP3 player, it is a quality album from beginning to end. It’s sort of like the guitar pop-rock Tapestry of the ‘00s, and I’m fairly certain that it’s the biggest-selling commercial pop album from that decade that I have in my collection.

Since Breakaway, Kelly Clarkson’s career has been tumultuous at times. But she’s still scoring across-the-board hits, compiling what will undoubtedly be a killer future greatest hits collection.

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