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Kelly Clarkson
THANKFUL
(RCA)

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After 20-year-old Texas songbird Kelly Clarkson, who stars in the new film From Justin to Kelly, emerged victorious from the hit first season of American Idol, she immediately joined forces with industry heavyweights Clive Davis and Simon Fuller. They had her record a new monster ballad by Britney Spears songwriter Jorgen Elofsson, and the result was the blockbuster single "A Moment like This."

On her first album, Clarkson hooks up with a top-flight entourage of music-biz pros and ends up with several more glitzy pop bullís eyes. The discís first single, "Miss Independent," sounds like a playful leftover from labelmate Christina Aguileraís new album ó it rocks in the middle and leaves ample room for vocal gymnastics. Elsewhere, Clarksonís voice is both powerful and versatile, and the album really takes off when she heads in an adult-alternative direction thatís modeled after Avril Lavigne but comes off more like vintage Pat Benatar. She teams up with Lavigne producer Clif Magness on the brooding showstoppers "Low" and "Just Missed the Train," and No Doubt producer Matthew Wilder contributes the melancholy rocker "Beautiful Disaster." Her own ballads and the discís Babyface collaborations donít fare as well, but Clarkson has set the bar pretty high for her American Idol successors.

BY SEAN RICHARDSON

Issue Date: June 13 - 19, 2003
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