Because J is on the other side of the world in some place called Golders Green, London and has failed to engage in legitimate communication with me over the course of almost two weeks now since a hastily convened Skype birthday session (with the exception of vaguely interested one-liners, ‘Hey, what up?’ and the like, as prefaces to those blogs he so kindly taps out on his iPhone in the galleries and on the public transport of Europe), I’ve decided to provoke him into contacting me by posting on a song which is such anathema to him that he’ll be jolted into action by sheer horror. As he reads the words ‘Kelly Clarkson’ and BOOM flashes of BOOM American Idol and BOOM hands over the mouth BOOM eyes wide open BOOM fanning herself down in excitement BOOM fill his internal vision (what a journey!), I hope the confetti-and-pre-packed-pop-starlet images are enough to at least get me an email, if not a Twitter inbox.
Nevertheless, as painful as this might be to hear, Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Miss Independent’ is not actually wielded today only as a tool of spite. Driving to uni today for the first time in months and turning to the ever-faithful baby-boomer-targeted radio station when I’d have enough ‘LEMON DETOX DIET!’ yelling for the moment, I found myself half self-consciously rolling down the window and sort of slapping the side of my car in the sort of affectionate way that is normally only warranted by a) fantastic fiscal/scholastic news or b) something by The Wombats. Pulling up to the lights, I was acutely aware that I was blasting the song that in 2005, made Clarkson an overnight household name (1,000,000 sales?!) and was probably the soundtrack to dozens of schoolgirl sleepovers over the years but, possibly still in a sleep deprived haze, I really didn’t care.
Unlike the majority of stuff the female pop megastars are churning out these days which falls generally into one of two categories: saccharine bullshit or hypersexualised bullshit, Clarkson’s second single from her multi-platinum debut ‘Platinum’ (the first being the obligatory cheesy idol anthem) still triumphs over these more modern packages in that she does both saccharine and sexual but loses the bullshit. Co-produced by the Clarkson, Christina Aguilera and the guy behind probably the coolest Spice Girls solo project out , it’s the knee-wobbling slap bass (so fat it could not have been produced by an actual instrument and is therefore synthetic, Brother Z assures me) that delivers the raunch in spades while Clarkson is free to let her pipes rip on the chorus to drive home the otherwise underplayed emotional aspect of the song. When the bass drops out and all you’ve got is tinny treble is when you remember that this is the product of a reality television contest. But when that bass hook is on, it’s on. That’s the sound of pop excellence delivered by a former Texan cocktail waitress, of fraternal humiliation they can hear over in Golders Green.
Kelly Clarkson – Miss Independent