Kelly Clarkson’s album Stronger has barely been out for a year, but after two hit singles (“Stronger” and “Mr. Know It All”) and one semi-flop (“Dark Side”), she’s moving on to her first Greatest Hits album, which arrives November 16.
To get us all fired up for this
blatant cash-grab unique opportunity to celebrate her career, Clarkson has released a brand new song called “Catch My Breath.” Is it her next “greatest hit,” or is it just a leftover from the scrap heap?
I love KC’s music. I really do. But this song? It kind of sucks.
For one thing, it’s just so boring. The structure is so predictable I could yawn, with the verse-chorus-big-note progression that every diva loves. But even worse, the production is so low-key that it sounds designed for a dentist’s office. This is the kind of wallpaper music that turns an artist into background noise, and for the last ten years, Clarkson has never faded into the background. Her producers have typically put urgent and/our haunting arrangements behind her amazing, uniquely expressive voice. By contrast, “Catch My Breath” is an Enya song.
Plus, it’s Clarkson’s billionth anthem about how oppressed she’s been by her life or her career or her lovers. “Now that you know, this is my life/I won’t be told what’s supposed to be right,” she sings. “No one can hold me back/ I ain’t got time for that.”
Dear God. Kelly. Girl. You have covered this already. You’ve been delivering self-empowerment anthems for years, from “Since U Been Gone” to “Never Again” to “Stronger,” not to mention album tracks like “You Can’t Win” and “Gone.” Eventually, it would be great if you sang about something else.
My guess is that Clarkson recorded this song during the sessions for Stronger, realized it wasn’t her best, and then shelved it. (I may be wrong, of course, but that’s what I suspect.) If albums didn’t come with so many bonus tracks these days, the Greatest Hits single might have been one of her better castoffs—a “deluxe edition” track like “Tip of My Tongue,” perhaps. Either way, though, it’s disappointing that her latest single is a wan misfire. I’m choosing to ignore “Catch My Breath” and wait for her next proper album. I have to believe she’ll get her act together by then.
Previously: Can this Ne-Yo song please be a hit?
Mark Blankenship has written about pop music for NPR and The New York Times. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship