4.5 60
by Kelly Clarkson

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There's no question that Kelly Clarkson -- American Idol's first superstar -- can sing. Week after week, the "cool beans" Texan blew away judges Randy "Kelly, Kelly, Kelly" Jackson and Paula "Touchdown!" Abdul with her soul-stirring, powerhouse pipes. She even won over smarmy Brit judge Simon "That Was Awful" Cowell, whoSee more details below


There's no question that Kelly Clarkson -- American Idol's first superstar -- can sing. Week after week, the "cool beans" Texan blew away judges Randy "Kelly, Kelly, Kelly" Jackson and Paula "Touchdown!" Abdul with her soul-stirring, powerhouse pipes. She even won over smarmy Brit judge Simon "That Was Awful" Cowell, who initially didn't remember the bubbly brunette. And while she's proven that she can sell records with her towering 2002 single, "A Moment like This," the question remains whether Clarkson can transform her 15 minutes of reality-TV fame into a bona fide recording career. Well, the arrival of her highly anticipated album debut, Thankful, finds the jury still out. With Clive Davis on board as executive producer, Thankful will likely become a top seller. While Clarkson charmed American Idol viewers with hazel-eyed soul renditions of R&B staples such as Aretha's "Natural Woman," Davis steered Thankful toward songs with more Top 40/pop-rock appeal. Vocally, Clarkson convincingly plays the rocker chick on the edgy, guitar-driven "Miss Independent," co-written by Christina Aguilera, and the Sheryl Crow–reminiscent "Low." But visually, it's hard to imagine the wholesome songbird getting "Dirty." Her true colors really shine on gospel- and R&B-inspired songs, such as the Diane Warren–penned "Some Kind of Miracle," the bluesy title track, and the power ballad "Anytime." It's a solid, even promising debut, but the key to Clarkson's career longevity lies in the choice of appropriate material: She will have even more to be Thankful for if she follows the lead of Justin Timberlake and switches gears from pop to R&B on her next disc.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Anybody older than 18 who's watched American Idol for any length of time will undoubtedly find the similarities between this talent contest and such square '60s/'70s variety programs like The Andy Williams Show startling and unavoidable. Whenever the kids are hauled out to sing an oldie or stumble through a production number, AmIdol goes into a time warp, particularly because they're nearly always singing the same songs that would have shown up on The Andy Williams Show all those years ago. That's because this is a show biz creation, not an organic pop phenomenon. It goes for the choreographed razzle-dazzle, it has the sense of "let's put on a show!" and it's about the televised show; the music is there to serve the program, not vice versa. This makes for splendid entertainment, but the format of the show and its inherent squareness do make it difficult for contest winners to appeal to listeners their own age, since the show has positioned them to be as unhip as possible. Take Kelly Clarkson, the winner of the first American Idol, aired in 2002. Her first single, "A Moment Like This," may have been a number one hit, but it was such a staid adult contemporary tune that it suggested that her career was over before it really began, since it was not a work that played to her age or audience, and it gave her no room to grow. Somebody -- whether it was Kelly herself or her monolithic management -- realized that she was not on a path to either a long career or a successful one-shot album and rethought the game plan for her much-delayed debut album, Thankful. Originally, this album was going to come out mere months after the end of the original American Idol, but it was delayed for a variety of reasons, including Clarkson's taxing schedule and difficulty in cobbling together workable material. Ultimately, the decision to delay the record paid off, because Thankful is a sharp, versatile modern pop record, showcasing her voice, to be sure, but being much better than expectations, much better than the scores of flop diva records that cluttered the pop landscape in late 2002. Why? There are many reasons, but the biggest is that everybody involved managed to make Kelly Clarkson seem younger and hipper without slutting her up like Christina Aguilera (who, ironically, co-wrote "Miss Independent," the first single from Thankful) while retaining a strong sense of melodic songcraft. She still can appeal to a wide, mature audience, but no longer does the music sound quite so static. Witness the new mix of "A Moment Like This" -- it's still the same treacly song, but it now breathes; it doesn't sound stiff and reserved, it gives Kelly's voice room to roam. It's a major step forward toward a fresh sound, and Thankful follows through on its promise, delivering dance-pop that's catchy and flirty without being trampy and ballads that are tasteful without being boring. Amazingly, the album has a light, effortless touch, an impressive feat considering that it was certainly as overworked as any of the big, leaden diva discs of 2002. Much credit is due to executive producer Clive Davis, who masterminded the effort, deftly balancing the dance and ballad sides, making it sound easy. But the record simply wouldn't work without Clarkson, who can navigate the shifts in sound with vigor and personality. Although it hardly breaks any new ground, Thankful is much more demanding than an episode of American Idol, since it's all new material covering the spectrum of mainstream pop music. Throughout this record, she makes it seem effortless and charming. She can croon, she can belt out a song, she can be sexy and sassy while still being graceful and as wholesome as the girl next door. After listening to Thankful, it's hard to imagine any of 2003's American Idol contestants -- including the two favorites, loverman Ruben Studdard and clenched, show tune-loving Clay Aiken, since both have taken one sound and driven it into the ground -- being able to produce a record so versatile while sounding like it's all so easy. True, Thankful isn't a record that's earth-shaking, but in 2003 it is something special all the same: an unapologetically mainstream record that works and is very enjoyable. Maybe American Idol really does turn out pop stars.
Entertainment Weekly
Her voice, at times raspy, at times beautifully sultry, is a potent reminder of why America embraced her. Clarkson glides through octaves with the masterful control of someone who's been doing this for decades. [B+] Henry Goldblatt

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Product Details

Release Date:


  1. The Trouble With Love Is
  2. Miss Independent
  3. Low
  4. Some Kind Of Miracle
  5. What's Up Lonely
  6. Just Missed The Train
  7. Beautiful Disaster
  8. You Thought Wrong
  9. Thankful
  10. Anytime
  11. A Moment Like This
  12. Before Your Love

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Kelly Clarkson   Primary Artist,Vocals,Background Vocals
Matthew Wilder   Guitar,Piano
Betty Wright   Background Vocals
Bruce Dukov   Violin
Evan Rogers   Background Vocals
Richard Todd   French Horn
Suzie Benson   Background Vocals
Louis Biancaniello   Keyboards
Charlie Bisharat   Violin
Debra Byrd   Background Vocals
Chris Camozzi   Guitar
Larry Corbett   Celli
Kenneth Crouch   Organ
Joel Derouin   Concert Master
Doug Emery   Keyboards
Steve Ferrera   Percussion,Drums
Josh Freese   Drums
Berj Garabedian   Violin
Paul Gendler   Guitar
Peter Kent   Violin
Rhett Lawrence   Guitar,scratching,DJ
Lee Levin   Drums
Clif Magness   Acoustic Guitar,Bass,Piano,Electric Guitar,Keyboards
Cindy Mizelle   Background Vocals
Peter Nocella   Viola
Steve Pearce   Bass
Tim Pierce   Guitar
Olle Romo   Guitar
Tommy Sims   Bass
Leslie Smith   Background Vocals
Carl Sturken   Keyboards
John Wittenberg   Violin
Jeanette Wright   Background Vocals
Ken Yerke   Violin
Conesha Owens   Background Vocals
Danielle Brisebois   Background Vocals
Dan Warner   Guitar
Sam Watters   Background Vocals
Sharlotte Gibson   Background Vocals
Randy Jackson   Bass
Pathik Desai   Guitar
Mike Elizondo   Bass
Emma Kummrow   Violin
Charlene Kwas   Violin
Gregory Teperman   Violin
Mary Griffin   Background Vocals
Steve Mac   Keyboards
Darrin McCann   Viola
Aiesha Wright   Background Vocals
Abe Laboriel   Drums
Wayne Rodrigues   scratching,DJ
Bob Becker   Viola
Jim Gasior   Piano
Corky James   Guitar
David Young   Viola
Dan Smith   Celli
Teddy Campbell   Drums
Jennie Lorenzo   Cello
Michele Richards   Violin
Ghislaine Fleishman   Violin
Rebekah Jordan   Background Vocals
Chris Willis   Background Vocals
Charles Parker   Violin

Technical Credits

Matthew Wilder   Composer,Programming,Producer
Desmond Child   Composer,Producer
Evan Rogers   Composer,Producer
Cathy Dennis   Composer,Producer
Gary Burr   Composer
Louis Biancaniello   Arranger,Composer,Programming,Producer,Engineer
Jeff Chestek   Engineer
Steve Churchyard   Engineer
Scott Cutler   Composer
Clive Davis   Executive Producer
Doug Emery   Arranger,Programming,Engineer
Steve Ferrera   Producer
Larry Gold   String Arrangements,String Conductor
Jimmy Harry   Composer
Jimmy Hoyson   Engineer
Rhett Lawrence   Arranger,Composer,Programming,Producer,Pro-Tools
Lee Levin   Engineer
Clif Magness   Arranger,Programming,Producer,Engineer
Csaba Petocz   Engineer
Olle Romo   Pro-Tools
Robin Sellars   Engineer
Carl Sturken   Composer,Producer,drum programming
Diane Warren   Composer
Andy Zulla   Engineer,Pro-Tools
Dave Arch   String Arrangements
Matt Howe   Engineer
Damon Thomas   Composer
Jim Watts   Pro-Tools
Danielle Brisebois   Composer
Babyface   Composer
Sam Watters   Arranger,Composer,Producer,Engineer
Steve McMillan   Pro-Tools
Frank Harkins   Art Direction
Quentin Dunn   Engineer
Dino Hermann   Engineer
Steve Mac   Producer
Brett Kilroe   Art Direction
Harvey Mason   Composer
Greg London   Engineer
Hemberger   Engineer
Jules Gondar   Engineer
Christina Aguilera   Composer
Matthew Morris   Composer
J.D. Andrew   Engineer
Stephanie Saraco   Songwriter,Composer
Chris Laws   Engineer
Craig Lozowick   Engineer
John Reid   Composer
Rich Balmer   Engineer
Jeff Kanan   Engineer
Kelly Clarkson   Composer
Conrad Golding   Engineer
Dabling Harward   Vocal Editing
Marcelo Marulanda   Engineer
Tamyra Gray   Composer
Rebekah Jordan   Composer
Chris Willis   Vocal Arrangements
D. Warren   Composer
Carlos Alvarez   Engineer

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