Single Review: Kelly Clarkson – ‘Mr. Know It All’

“‘Mr. Know It All’ feels like the shadow of Bruno Mars’ ‘Just The Way You Are’, mimicking much of the same breezy essence”

3 STARS

Digital Release: October 10, 2011

Physical Release: October 17, 2011

It’s often hard to trust popstars these days. Both in what they say and what they do, it’s hard to filter through what’s promised and what’s actually achieved when the final curtain closes. In terms of Kelly Clarkson, claiming new album ‘Stronger’ will be “darker” and “more personal and more mature” than any of her previous ones echoes very noticeable the promise made by one Avril Lavigne. In receipt of said promise her fans were thrilled with such news, not just because Avril was finally growing up at the practically pensionable age of twenty-seven, but because it gave them a reason to defend the four years it took for ‘Goodbye Lullaby’ to materialise. But even so, the album’s “grown-up” sound was hardly that, a riddled with brat-pop like ‘What The Hell?’, ‘Push’ and ‘Smile’, it felt like Avril had well and truly regressed to her tomboy years, or at least viewed adulthood through such a lens that allowed her to use the lyrics “You know that I’m a crazy bitch;/I do what I want, when I feel like it” to describe independence and maturity.

But anyone grimacing at the thought of Kelly Clarkson donning vivid pink and green-dyed hair, fishnet gloves, striped tights and converses, whilst lurching over some emo-fied Telecaster with the grace of Quasimodo in a moshpit can breathe a sigh of relief. Kelly’s been loyal to her fans, kept a human hair colour and isn’t going to stand out if placed somewhere other than a music video. But there have been some changes – progressions of sound – made. She appears to have lost her appetite for even her raucous ensemble of guitars and showcasing the talents of an innumerable number of producers, ‘Mr. Know It All’ feels like the shadow of Bruno Mars’ ‘Just The Way You Are’, mimicking much of the same breezy essence, chiming piano and spacious acoustic guitars.

Thanks to the unfamiliar ground Kelly’s treading with ‘Mr. Know It All’, things can’t help but get off to a shaky start, with her voice seemingly finding it hard to gel with the more sophisticated collection of instruments, often contradicting the point of the song because of it’s uncertain territory. But soon enough her powerful voice finds it’s place amidst the pop/rock twang with the guide of thoughtful harmonies and a modest piano section. Even with the staggered confidence at the beginning, once the song hits it’s stride – a mutually contenting plod – proceedings become more enjoyable, the sentiment coming across a little too polite to convince much further than on a superficial level – particularly in the closing lines of the chorus – it’s still a decent return to the charts for Kelly which, let’s be honest, is a better deal than poor Avril got.

 

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