Tuesday, February 13, 2018


Kelly Brianne Clarkson was born on April 24, 1982 in Fort Worth, Texas.  On September 4, 2002 she won Season One of 'American Idol'.  Her debut album, THANKFUL, came out in 2003.  Over the years Kelly became known for hits such as 'Miss Independent', 'Since U Been Gone', 'Catch My Breath', and 'Piece by Piece'.  MEANING OF LIFE (2017, Atlantic) is her eighth studio album.  It debuted at #2 on the US Billboard 200 and peaked at #1 on the US Billboard Digital Albums chart, and at #4 on the Billboard Canadian Albums chart.

1. Starting things off is 'A Minute (Intro)', a short song snippet about needing time alone: "Sometimes I need just a minute just for me/I need a minute just to be/I need a minute just to breathe/Sometimes I need a minute that's my own".

2. 'Love So Soft' and 'Move You' were the album's dual lead singles.  'Love So Soft' was written by Jesse Shatkin, Priscilla Renea, and Maureen 'Mozella' McDonald.  It's a soulful pop song featuring The Regiment Horns and the Earth, Wind and Fire Horn Section.  The song was nominated for a Grammy for 'Best Pop Solo Performance' but in my opinion has a corny chorus: "Love so soft/You ain't had nothin' softer/Break it, then you buy it, and it's sure gonna cost ya/Love so soft/That you can't rub off/You gon' love it, if you try it, gotcha hooked, now you're caught up/Love so soft, so soft (2X)".'

3. 'Heat' is a pop/dance track with another corny chorus: "Oh, come turn this around/Oh, no no, don't let us down/I need more heat from you baby/Make me feel weak for you babe/Oh, wanna feel alive/Oh, like my heart's in the wild/I need more heat from you baby/Make me feel weak for you babe".

4. Next up is the album's title track, 'Meaning of Life', written by Jesse Shatkin, Ilsey Juber, and James Morrison Catchpole.  Strings were arranged and conducted by Larry Gold.  Kelly sings the praises of a guy: "You show me love, you lift me up/You take me higher and higher/The truth is I'm in love/Can you feel us?/We're flyin' higher/ Meaning of life/You show me the meaning of life".

5. 'Move You' is a soulful ballad: "Like a symphony at sundown in the middle of July/When a lyric really gets ya and it breaks you down inside/Like the home that you were raised in/Like faded photographs/Like the thrill of Christmas morning/Yeah, I wanna move you like that/Ooh, I wanna move you like that".

6. Kelly co-wrote 'Whole Lotta Woman' with five other folks.  It's a self-centered upbeat R&B cut: "I got what you want/I'm aimin' to please/I got what it takes/I sure got the means/I got what you want/Sugar, honey, iced tea/All eyes on me, oh, oh, baby...I'm a strong, bad ass chick with classic confidence, yeah".

7. 'Medicine' features very uncreative lyrics: "I ain't even thinkin' bout you (2X)/Don't talk about ya/Almost forgot about you/Said I ain't even thinkin' bout you/I ain't even thinkin' bout you/Don't talk about ya/Almost forgot about you".

8. Andre Davidson, Sean Davidson, Jessica Ashley Karpov, and Pat Linehan wrote 'Cruel'.  It finds Kelly thinking aloud about her relationship: "Am I being jealous?/Are you being selfish/Runnin' round  2, 3 o'clock in the mornin'?/No, no, no you better believe me/Lovin' you, it ain't easy/I'm halfway to losin' my mind/Don't be cruel/It's taken all of me to love someone like you".

9. Bridget Sarai and Nicole Hurst sing backing vocals on 'Didn't I', a soulful pop song about being done with a relationship: "I'm over this tug of war/I've told you so many times before/Now I'm finally lettin' go of the rope/Yeah, well this game is too ugly boy/And these hands are tired from keepin' you up/And my heart hurts from holdin' out hope".

10. Kelly and Greg Kurstin wrote 'Would You Call That Love'.  It calls a former lover to reflection: "When you look back on love do you think of us?/When it's all said and done, was it all enough?/When you weigh the loss to all you've gained, tell me, does it all add up?/When you look back on us/Would you call that love?"

11. Kelly pats herself on the back on 'I Don't Think About You', a decent adult contemporary ballad: "It used to bother me/Thought I could never leave/After all that I've been through, nothin' left to prove/No, no, no, I don't think about you/Weighing down on me/I lost my sanity/And now that we are through, nothin' left to lose/No, no, no, I don't think about you".

12. 'Slow Dance' finds Jason Halbert of Sonicflood fame on piano and B3 and includes a nice electric guitar solo by Jeff 'Gitty' Gitelman.  The song begins with Kelly sizing a guy up: "You're tall, dark, and handsome/You're charming and then some/Know how to romance 'em/But I see through it all/You do everything too fast/You move like a whiplash/You're missin' the romance/And I see through it all".

13. 'Don't You Pretend' includes these words: "Don't you run and hide/Let's find out tonight/I got a feelin' that you wanna fall/Tell me yes or no/I can't take no more/I want the real thing or nothin' at all".

14. Kelly, Jesse Shatkin, and Maureen 'Mozella' McDonald wrote 'Go High'. It's the album's closing track and is forgettable: "High as the note that I sing/High as the kite with no string/High is what I have to be/When you go low I go high just to breathe/High as the smoke that you blow/High as you think I can't go/High as this lonely road/When you go low I go high just to breathe".

MEANING OF LIFE is definitely a musical departure for Kelly Clarkson and it's a departure I could do without! I'm not digging this soulful R&B pop side of her. I prefer her inspirational anthems, straight up pop, and gritty rock offerings.  The lyrics here are quite weak as well.  They are most certainly not thought provoking. Any of a number of artists could have sung and/or written these songs.  Also, at times it sounds like Kelly is trying to be cool and a bit younger than she really is.  Lastly, this album doesn't showcase her terrific vocals as much as some of her other albums. I'm rating MEANING OF LIFE a 70 percent.  For more info visit: www.kellyclarkson.com.