Thursday, September 22, 2011

Revenge of the Thirty-Day Song Challenge - Day 16

Day 16 - A Sequel Song

Occasionally, certain songs become popular enough to warrant a follow-up. The need to create a song with thematic ties to another, earlier song makes absolutely no sense to me, but it's been around for a good chunk of time in pop music. Sometimes the relationship is explicit to the point of being tedious (e.g. "The Devil Went Back to Georgia"), and sometimes you hardly even know it's there.

Kelly Clarkson - "My Life Would Suck Without You"

Hands up: who here knew this was a sequel song? Without looking at the Wikipedia page? I sure as hell didn't; why would I? Lyrically, it's a standard, if rather catchy, getting back together anthem. But no, dear readers, it's not just any getting back together anthem, but instead is the follow-up to her massive 2004 hit "Since U Been Gone."

Why make a sequel to a song that went number two nearly four years prior to "My Life's" release? We may never know, but I can take a guess. Clarkson's 2007 album, My December, was a grandiose, epic piece of Evanescence-y alt-rock, and despite garnering largely positive reviews and eventually going platinum, it never posted the same numbers as her previous album, Breakaway, nor did it produce as many hit singles. After such an experimental (and controversial) project, I imagine the label wanted to return to something a bit more secure--from this, we retread the familiar ground of one of Clarkson's biggest singles, written by one of the most successful pop songwriters of the last generation. I have literally no proof to support any of this, but it makes that most sense as to why "My Life" sounds so incredibly different from every other song on All I Ever Wanted.

Anyway, "My Life Would Suck Without You." It's a catchy bit to pop-rock, carried by a simple, driving guitar line, constant (if artificial) drum and cymbal track, and an occasional swooping synthesizer. All of this is augmented by Martin's titanic-sized hook that peaks in all of the right places, and Clarkson's soaring vocals, as passionate and energetic as anything one can hope from the most successful alumnus of American Idol. It's a perfect track for white-girl car-dancing, which I've indulged in occasionally, and I'm not even a white girl.

Goodness knows how legitimate it is as a sequel song (though apparently Max Martin wrote it explicitly as a sequel to "Since U Been Gone;" kudos to him for not having the gall to call it "My Life Would Suck Without U"), but it's a damn fine slice of late 2000's pop all the same. Who knows what the future will hold for Stronger, but as long as Clarkson keeps her ear for tight, energetic anthems like this, I'll be happy.

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