Kelly Clarkson could have played her American Idol
-propelled career much differently, languishing in the role of dippy ingénue or shunting her musical development by leaning too heavily on overnight stardom. Instead she dug in her heels and allowed good sense (or a good manager) to steer, and somewhere Simon Fuller and the rest of the TV gang ought to be smiling. Credit Breakaway
, which couldn't be more aptly titled--the sophomore set represents a seismic split from the thin if pretty stuff debut Thankful
set forth. Here we encounter Clarkson as superstar, with the humility that made her likable on the first disc tucked tightly under her arm. First single and leadoff track "Breakaway" topped the pop charts on arrival, and its rock-friendly thumps, dips, and rolls don't wear out their welcome; they blend, instead, into the firestorm of beats and guitars that is "Since U Been Gone," another shout-it-out rocker. Those songs set the tone for the rest of the disc in all its fury: The innocence is long gone, numbers including "Addicted" and "Hear Me" say collectively, and Clarkson's of a mind to kick it. The big, expressive voice ringed by the occasional high-pitch trill--the one that prompted millions to get behind her on Idol
--doesn't dip entirely off the radar, though. On "Where Is Your Heart," and the stunning live closer "Beautiful Disaster," it's there in full force--a hint, maybe, that despite the wide, smart career step Breakaway
represents, her fans come first. -Tammy La Gorce
As Kelly prepares the worldwide release of her new album, she's riding another hit single and video, 'Breakaway,' which is quickly becoming one of the hottest songs at radio for the fall of 2004, as well as the setup track for this new record. With contributions from some of the biggest producers in music today (John Shanks, Max Martin, Clif Magness, Ben Moody), Kelly's new record will further broaden her base as a worldwide pop star. The publicity campaign surrounding the launch of this album, one of the most anticipated pop events of the year, will see Kelly everywhere leading into this holiday season.