Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Kelly Clarkson – I Do Not Hook Up

How to follow up a transatlantic number one? Keep on down the road…


Edward Okulicz: Written by Katy Perry, and while Katy’s voice clearly wasn’t up to its high notes, Kelly’s attitude isn’t suited to its tone. The titular hook is very weak and the shiny, buffed guitars don’t add very much, they just sound like the idea of what a generic Kelly Clarkson song would sound like – none of the sparkle of “My Life Would Suck Without You” or the grit of “Behind These Hazel Eyes” makes it into this.

Dave Moore: Gah, that is two Katy Perry originals I prefer to the Kelly Clarkson remakes, and, like “Long Shot”, this song requires more blubbering and less gloss. Anyway, the song sounds well enough like a Kelly C. rawk tune, but the sentiment isn’t really Kelly at all. One-night stand versus long-term relationship is so far beneath the scope of her usual concerns it’s almost insulting – on her last album she cast herself as Jesus Christ on the cross. This is a huge step down – er, figuratively speaking.

John M. Cunningham: Ms. Clarkson would like us to know that she’s not one to carve notches in her bedpost. On first listen, she sounded awfully superior about it (I think it’s that condescending “sweetheart” by which she addresses her besotted friend), but I’ve since gotten the idea that the empowerment mantra is really cover for the fact that she’s not emotionally capable of sleeping around. Which is a lot easier to appreciate since, hell, few of us are. Still, that chorus is a little grating, and she doesn’t exactly breathe life into the Linda Perry-style femme-rock formula.

Briony Edwards: Anthemic sing-along pop-rock at its best. Super sweet harmonies, driving guitars, the most uplifting chorus known to man, and lots of meant-to-sound-deep lyrics which hint at some top quality heartbreak lurking in Kelly’s past. Very well done.

Martin Skidmore: We don’t produce this kind of pop star over here: mainstream pop in America inherits a lot from grunge. This is, as are many of her records, far closer to Nirvana than to Britney. Yes, we get the giant choruses, which she delivers with real fire, but I make the parallel because it’s the raw passion she puts into every part of this that is so striking. I don’t care if the passion is faked – I always assume that’s the most likely case whoever it is, and it makes no difference. This is another powerful and slick rock anthem, but I wonder if she has had enough credit for being a great rock singer yet.

Tom Ewing: Guts, drive, hooks, voice and sheen: this should be better than it is, but so far for me these estimable parts aren’t fitting. I’ll give it a point or so extra’s benefit of the doubt, since “My Life Would Suck” took weeks to earworm me and weeks more to charm me.

Alex Macpherson: Like that misbegotten mess “My Life Would Suck Without You”, this is another transparent attempt to disown the bitterness and darkness of My December – her finest album – and to recast Clarkson as a fun, happy pop star again. This sticks in the craw, and the disappointment is only exacerbated by yet more blarey, too-loud production, another chorus which is both too much (oversung, tries too hard) and too little (clumsily hook-free), and a lyric which manages to undercut annoying prudishness with annoying submissiveness.

Jordan Sargent: If “I Love College” is the worst single of the year then “My Life Would Suck Without You” has to be the second worst, if only because both have such reprehensibly lazy songwriting at their cores. “I Do Not Hook Up” mercifully reverses all that was wrong with the latter, using a dubious song title as a jumping off point for a truly massive chorus. And where the “My Life Would Suck Without You” chorus was content with letting teens titillate themselves over a barely there double-entendre, “I Do Not Hook Up” develops its character while we all “whoa-oh-oh”, and we can’t really ask for much more in pop.

Hillary Brown:The narrative is kind of overwhelming, but the hook is still excellent. Bouncy time!

Additional Scores

Trey Kerby: [7]
Ian Mathers: [7]
Keane Tzong: [6]

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