Kelly Clarkson – A Moment Like This

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.

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5 Responses to Kelly Clarkson – A Moment Like This

  1. RBerman says:

    Mainly what an artist needs to be a hitmaker is a financial and marketing champion within the industry. American Idol was a way for Simon Cowell’s record label to raise advertising money while simultaneously looking for a line of guinea pigs.Cowell is looking for more than just a voice; he’s also looking for stage presence, crowd appeal, and probably above all, the willingness to take orders.

    Most people don’t get much practice for singing these days, except in church. Thus Christians are disproportionately represented, ironically, on show called “American Idol.” And since white Christians tend to be Southern rather than Northern, and the shows’ demographics skew white, the winners usually end up becoming country music stars, which is probably not what Cowell, a British pop maven, was hoping for. But at least it’s happening at a time that country is quite pop, and previously unimaginable combos (Jon Bon Jovi and Sugarland; Brad Paisley and LL Cool J; Little Big Town singing Lady Gaga) happen routinely.

    The song itself is a by-the-numbers inspirational ballad that could have come out anytime after 1988 or so. Ten years later it’s all but forgotten, a product of the brief Kellymania that even saw her starring in a rapidly contrived and even more forgettable film with Idol runner-up Justin Guarini. Her first album, which featured this song, had only one other hit, “Miss Independent.” It was just a dress rehearsal for her defining second album, the appropriately titled “Breakaway,” which generated an excellent string of hits which will surely be the bulk of all her eventual “greatest hits” compilations down the line. But since none of those hits quite made it to #1 (thought four were Top Ten), it will be a while before we see Clarkson on this blog again.

    As for American Idol, after twelve seasons it’s still in the Top Ten shows on TV, no mean feat. Apparently, people like watching attractive young singers get critiqued. In the meantime, Clarkson has sold 12 million albums. Season Two winner Reuben Studdard had a #1 album. Season Three contestant Jennifer Hudson has won a Grammy and an Oscar. Season Four champion Carrie Underwood has 14 million in sales, and six Grammies. Season Five contestant Chris Daughtry (a rock singer and thus an Idol anomaly) is closing on 7 million in US sales. Season Six winner Jordin Sparks had three Top Ten singles and starred in a decent Motown movie, “Sparkle.” Season Ten winner Scotty McCreary was the youngest person ever with a #1 album. How well would these people have done without American Idol? We’ll never know.

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