ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The trouble with Kelly Clarkson
"Starting to Learn"
Charm - some have it, some don't; but this Toronto native, whose eight-song EP The Noise in My Chest will get the town buzzing, oozes charm. How does he do it? By using his boy-next-door vocals to croon this simple tune about understanding the warm, fluttery feeling of love as he backs himself up on acoustic guitar. You'll want to burn your John Mayer CDs after hearing this (even though you should've burned them a long time ago). MP3 available at www.reidjamieson.com.
I don't like this band. The dark aesthetic they've pushed - the overblown tragedy of the songs and the black wardrobe - is as authentic as Stabbing Westward's was. This third single from their Fallen record is a bit different. Sure, the themes of death, resurrection and salvation are still intact, but this overly precious piano-and-strings ballad is endearing in an Enya/Sarah McLachlan kind of way. And to show they haven't gone completely soft, the video mix kicks in with some killer '80s power-ballad riffs.
"The Trouble With Love Is"
Forget love; the trouble with Kelly is that she still hasn't forged her own path. On American Idol, she was a poor substitute for Aretha Franklin, on "Miss Independent" she ended up with Christina Aguilera's leftovers and on this generic track from her Thankful disc she really wants to be Mariah Carey circa 1990. Clarkson sure belts out this classy, inoffensive number - think Christmas-dinner ballad - but what is offensive is the push she's getting. The song is the first single from the Love, Actually soundtrack out on J Records. The big guy at J Records? Clive Davis, who's also top dog at RCA, Clarkson's label.
Red Hot Chili Peppers:
It's greatest hits season, a time when bands can make a few extra bucks by putting together a collection of past singles and tacking on a couple of new tracks that aren't good enough to make it on a real album. Luckily, the Chili Peppers have enough big songs to warrant a hits package, but the first new single doesn't fare so well. Though John Frusciante's guitar wails ever so nicely, Anthony Kiedis does not. He likes to get through a song using as few notes as possible and while it has worked in the past, it ends up bogging down this track.