First Hit #1: October 5, 2002
American Idol is awful. It’s based on a flawed premise to start – an artist needs a lot more than a voice to be a hitmaker – and is the source of so many painful, over-sung covers of better regarded songs that it’s almost unbearable. Kelly Clarkson has essentially been the rock upon which the franchise has been built, since she was its first big discovery and, more importantly, could sustain a career after the reality show buzz wore down. More impressive, she managed the feat when her producer mandated first hit was a bit ol’ pile of crap.
A Moment Like This is the worst kind of treacle, a cheesy love song with no real message or sentiment behind it. The song exists to be a cheap tie in for something else, if it wasn’t American Idol it would be a bad TV Christmas movie starring Rob Lowe, or a sitcom finale where the precocious child star tries to flog a music career. Since bad reality singing competitions were invented, we get that instead.
Credit where it’s due, Clarkson does her best with it. The composition isn’t quite inspiring, just there to show off the pipes but not actually do anything so impressive that she might trip up on it – it’s clear that this was going to be shoved off on whatever finalist got stuck with it, so it’s not really something that plays to anyone’s strengths. However, Clarkson at least tries to make it compelling, and one can’t judge her too harshly for being stuck with a boring song after joining a bad reality competition show that is weighted on only a small part of what it means to be a pop star. Credit to Clarkson for building a career, but I do wish her first hit didn’t exist.