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Breakaway (A continuation of “AmericanIdle”)

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  1. Introduction
  2. The standards of pop music
  3. Establishing the central meaning of genre through the eyes of production
  4. A movement back to singularity: An intimate note for Kelly Clarkson herself
  5. The lyrics of 'Since You've Been Gone' demonstrate the benefits of action
  6. Identify with the meaning: Everyone has been seriously disappointed by a loved one
  7. A shift in sound and emotion: Clarkson testing the limits of the pop genre
  8. Does emotion automatically causes a song to depreciate in meaning
  9. The image of a beating heart to convey a sense of authentic emotion
  10. Conclusion

To the surprise of fans and American Idol producers alike (in varying degrees of delightful glee and ghastly shock), Clarkson's second album conveyed an entirely different message than the first. Entitled Breakaway, the music simply delves deeper than the playful bubbles at the surface of all pop music. But what constitutes a fan insisting that Clarkson's music has improved? What appropriate standards exist to make such a quick judgment? According to Simon Frith, the ability to implement real meaning in a song rests in the facets of the voice. Through meaningful lyrics, a song can succeed in exceeding expectations set by the pop genre. Miranda Fricker takes this notion further, attesting that different kinds of emotion as reflected in the voice affect the resonance of a song. A minor shift in voice through deepening emotion will change the expectations of the listeners altogether. Therefore, a sufficient standard in judging Clarkson's work exists in examining Frith's idea of the lyrical content balanced by Fricker's idea of sound and emotion.

[...] Perhaps our ready acceptance of songs like Moment like This? make us so marketable, such easy targets for crap; and because pop fans do not protest, the same standard of meaningless music remains to pacify over and over again. Through a shift in sound and emotion, however, Clarkson tests the limits of the pop genre in which she is hopelessly trapped. The typical sound of pop music, at least for women, relies on a balance of a sing-song sort of speaking in the verses, leaving the powerful singing to the chorus in which there will be several impossible high notes that indicate emotional catharsis. [...]


[...] In fact, with a balance of speaking and yelling, she makes the whole song realistically singable and therefore accessible to anyone; this simple change in voice allows the listeners to sing along and empathize in emotional release by drawing from their own personal stories. In essence, emotional detachment would not be the natural response. A later verse further deepens the meaning of the song. Clarkson speaks candidly, the beat in the background a repetitious thumping of drums, conjuring the image of a beating heart to convey a sense of authentic emotion: can I put You put me on./ I even fell for that stupid love song.? In the context of her anger at the American Idol producer, she exhibits a self- reflexive quality in admitting that became under a spell, falling for the ?stupid love songs? they made her sing. [...]

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