Nearly 15 years ago, Kelly Clarkson released "Miss Independent," when she was anything but. The OG American Idol wasn't making the music she wanted to make. Instead, she was recording songs that her then record label RCA wanted her to make. With her upcoming album, The Meaning Of Life (her first on Atlantic Records) Clarkson makes it clear that she's done being what everyone else wants her to be. This time, whether you like it or not, she's going to just be herself.
Clarkson told Entertainment Weekly that The Meaning Of Life is the album she's wanted to make since she was in junior high. "While it is still pop, it’s way more soulful," she said.
It's true that her latest single "Love So Soft" sounds like the song Clarkson should have been making all along, but couldn't. Clarkson never denied that working with RCA CEO Clive Davis was contentious, calling the relationship with RCA "an arranged marriage" she was forced into after winning Idol. It was a deal, she said in a statement after signing with her new label, that "sometimes worked out and sometimes resulted in the hardest experiences of my life," which included being forced to work with producer Dr. Luke by Davis.
Clarkson's new song sounds like freedom. It sounds like an artist finally getting a chance to make the album she wanted to make "since I was a little girl, and a record that fans have been asking me to make for years." No surprise, since soul music is what she started out singing on Idol.
"Love So Soft" celebrates Clarkson's rich tones and builds off of what fans heard when she covered Aretha Franklin and Etta James' "At Last" on tour. On those covers Clarkson got to be adventurous and on "Love So Soft" she's clearly having fun, taking chances and showing off some vocal gymnastics that 15 years later remind you why she's still the best American Idol winner. Not to mention, why we still very much want her to duet with Miguel.
It sounds like a song made by a woman who knows what she wants, as does the ballad "Move You," the second song Clarkson dropped from The Meaning Of Life. It's probably why Clarkson's dubbed her eighth studio LP her "grown-ass woman’s record.” “This isn’t a record I could have made at the age of 20," she told Entertainment Weekly."This is a record you make when you’ve lived.” Clearly, it was worth the wait.
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