Photo credit: Kelly Clarkson via Atlantic Records
Release Date: 06/23/2023
Label: Kelly Clarkson via Atlantic Records
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Kelly Clarkson has released her magnum opus; “chemistry.” The record, fan-labeled as her “divorce” record, exceeds expectations and completely sheds any of the weird social media tropes that have been put on the “scorned woman” story. Clarkson’s songwriting has reached new heights, her vocals are as incredible as they are raw and you truly get the full experience with this record.
Kelly is experiencing a new career high, her daytime talk show “The Kelly Clarkson Show” not only fills the void of the “Ellen” show but also completely changed daytime TV. This isn’t the first time Clarkson has been apart of TV-history. She is the American Idol; the show that changed that trajectory of how stars are made.
Fast-forward 21 years into her career, Clarkson is still keeping things fresh while also claiming her spot as one of this generations best artists. “chemistry” has been creating buzz since the release of it’s lead singles, “mine/me“. Since, she has released a handful of buzz-singles, like “favorite kind of high,” “i hate love (feat. Steve Martin),” “red flag collector” and “lighthouse;” each providing a deeper insight to Kelly Clarkson’s journey of love.
Kelly Clarkson “chemistry”
The record begins with the incredible “skip this part;” The almost lullaby-style track is a beautiful and honest telling of how suffocating a break-up can feel.
I’d like to skip this part
Cut you so deep when it feels like the end
I’m not so sure how much more I can take of these waves crashin’ in
I’d like to skip this part
No need for Ferris wheel memories to tend
I’m real good at forgivin’, but my heart can’t forget
The ache before the mend
“mine” remains of my favorite tracks on the record; the vocal layering on the chorus is one of the most pleasing things I have ever heard in a song, and on top of it, it’s a lyrically one of the strongest in Clarkson’s whole catalogue.
As we hit track three, “highroad,” we get our first hint of the almost hidden through-line; Country music. One thing she has been very vocal about in her career is her love and admiration for Country music. Clarkson actually even released a twang-heavy single in 2012 to celebrate the engagement to the person who inspired the record we’re reviewing today.
On the list of standout tracks is “down to you,”
it’s a perfect pop song. From it’s structure to production, it is probably one of the most radio friendly tracks on the record. The title track “chemistry” is the perfect follow-up; the slower vibe with the easy music makes for one of the most enjoyable listening experiences. She hit’s a high note that is so soft and controlled, it’s just… I could go on forever about her vocals. The outro is also some of my favorite lyrics;
Come on over, hold me closer
Fall into my arms and never let go
Oh, our chemistry (Chemistry) cuts me deep (Cuts me deep)
I stay away ’cause ’round you, my heart breaks
“favorite kind of high” should be playing on all radio stations right now. The song, co-written by Carly Rae Jepsen, has an energy that a lot songs that are making they way up the charts are missing. It’s good music paid with insane melodies; I want justice for this buzz-single.
As Kelly Clarkson takes us farther into her post-divorce journey,
we get gems like “magic” which has a bridge that takes the song to a new level. It’s almost like you get two different songs in one; I don’t know exactly how to explain it. “lighthouse” is probably the most heartbreaking track on the record. It’s not that you can just hear her pain, you feel it. It’s an emotional track that if you are in a delicate space will 100% break you.
“rock hudson” and “my mistake” help paint an even-clearer picture of where Clarkson stands. Both tracks feature lyrics that speak to how she was let down, left alone and essentially crushed to pieces.
We get back into the Country-vibes when we hit “red flag collector,” another one of my favorites on this record. It’s fun, catchy and it makes you hate men, even if you are one. You realize the damage you have done to little angels like Kelly Clarkson and you start sending out your apologies to all the Kelly’s in your life.
My ultimate favorite on this record is the banjo-lead track “i hate love (feat. Steve Martin).”
It, in my opinion, is one of the best songs to be released in the past few years. It transcends genres, if you’re one of those people who “hate” specific genres of music, that doesn’t matter here. This song is country, pop, rock and hits a note for everyone. It’s lyrics are also incredibly relatable and fun to sing along to, even if you are in love. You can hum this song and chorus and keep your partner/significant other on their toes.
Our closer, “that’s right (feat. Sheila E)” is completely unexpected. It has a Spanish, Blondie, Island vibe that feels like it could be sung in a Cabana Club. It’s such a fun closer to a record that gives you emotional whiplash, but the kind you don’t sue for ’cause it’s nice.
With all of this said; this is Clarkson’s best album to date, with no debate. Hardcore fans could try and argue that “My December” still claims that spot; but “chemistry” shows her talent in all the right ways. From the writing, arrangements, production and everything in-between; this is musical perfection.
“chemistry” is now available worldwide.