Monday, June 18, 2007

'My December' First Listen

Roger Friedman of Fox News writes that more than a week before its scheduled release, Kelly Clarkson's controversial album, "My December" is available all over the Internet.

I downloaded it quickly last Friday and have been listening to it ever since — not necessarily because it's so good, but to evaluate its inherent oddness.

"My December," you see, as has been discussed now in this column and other places, is not what you'd expect from the winner of "American Idol."

That can be a good thing and a bad thing. We all applaud ambitious moves, and Clarkson certainly wants to spread her wings. Her famous quote now is that the songs are by her and about her. She says something to the effect of "pardon me if my life bores you."

Clarkson, however, is not a very experienced lyricist. So the pain she is trying to convey on "My December" is often not very effectively rendered. Unlike confessional songwriters like Carly Simon or even Alanis Morissette, Clarkson doesn't have a grasp of metaphor. She is more of an in-your-face songwriter. She also doesn't know when to stop beating a dead horse.

The result is a very mixed bag. The music on "My December" was supposedly written by members of her band. Some of it isn't bad. A couple of tracks, "Yeah" and "Don't Waste Your Time," stand out as memorable rockers with decent hooks. "Be Still" is an effective ballad. But the lyrics, especially on "Time," deteriorate pretty quickly into an accusatory tone that permeates the album.

It's not that I'm unsympathetic. Clarkson obviously was in a bad relationship with an abusive alcoholic. We get it; it's all over the album, from "Sober" to "Chivas." In "Yeah," which is saved by the band, she warbles: "I know where I've loved somebody more than what you'll give to me."

It's clear she's mad, bitter and resentful. But a lot of it seems like high school whining. Isn't art supposed to be about something more than this?

With "December" already downloading, Clarkson and her record label, RCA, have some obvious problems. But even worse for Clarkson is the news that her tour has been cancelled right on the heels of her firing manager Jeff Kwatinetz.

I still think that RCA will add a couple of tracks to "My December" in a second edition early in the fall. A real hit should emerge then, followed by a tour. But what a long way around to do something fairly simple.


Paul McCartney is 65 today, and even though this is not "American Idol" news, we just had to mark the occasion. Everybody's gonna dance tonight!


The Daily Tribune reports that Constantine Maroulis will take the stage twice during Opa Fest 2007, "A Night in Athens," on the grounds of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Troy, Mich.

The event runs Friday through Sunday, June 22-24. Maroulis will perform for free at 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.

This year, about 10,000 people in three days are expected to attend the festival at the church at 760 W. Wattles Road in Troy.


Watch video of Taylor Hicks singing "Soul Thing" at Elvis Fest 2007 in Tupelo, Miss.:

There are other videos (sorry, even worse quality), but Taylor freaks might want to take a peek here.


The Staten Island Advance says that despite hundreds of reports to the contrary,
"American Idol" Jordin Sparks wasn't born on Staten Island.


On Dec. 22, 1989, Jodi Wiedmann gave birth to a healthy baby girl -- 8 pounds, 8 ounces, if family memory serves. The obstetrician was Dr. Charles Clinch. The location was St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, and, cue the "Idol" theme music -- a star was born.

The 17-year-old Ms. Sparks earned support from Staten Island's "Idol" fans during her rise to the top of the Fox-TV series this season.

No doubt, Staten Island would be happy to claim her.
But Ms. Sparks' mother tells the Advance: "I can definitely confirm that Jordin and I were at St. Joe's in Phoenix on the morning of Dec. 22, 1989!"

When the New York Post reported in April that Ms. Sparks was an Island native, they had it wrong, as did subsequent reports in papers from Virginia to Singapore.

The young pop star, a resident of Glendale, Ariz., did reside in various parts of New York and New Jersey while growing up -- mainly in Ridgewood, N.J., while her father, Phillippi Sparks, played football with the New York Giants.

Today Google links fans to about 700 Web sites that report Ms. Sparks was born on the Island-- including such popular sites as Wikipedia, People and

But -- sad news for local devotees -- they all have it wrong, too.

The Sparks family says they were rebuffed by a Post editor when they called to request a correction.

And they have tried to edit Ms. Sparks' bio on Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopedia that allows anyone to contribute, but they said the Island connection keeps cropping back up.

It's a mistake -- we're taking mom's word for it.


In one of the funniest Simon Cowell stories we've read to date, Mike Walker in the National Enquirer claims that Simon Cowell bathes in cherry tomatoes and sparkling water to stay looking young.

Walker says that Cowell spends hours soaking naked in a fab concoction he calls "Tomate Cerise!" Simon orders Italian cherry tomatoes flown in from Europe, smashes them to pulp in a big bucket -– then pours the bright-red goop into a bathtub filled with Perrier water.

Walker claims that Simon says the tomato enzymes not only eradicate age spots and keep the skin looking young – they even jazz up the metabolism.

Walker adds that his spy says Cowell's housekeepers aren't happy about swabbing pureed goo out of the master tub, and keep muttering stuff like "damn tomato soup!"

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© 2007

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