Kelly Clarkson Is Back To Burning Brightly

ARTIST: Kelly ClarksonTITLE: All I Ever WantedRELEASE DATE: March 10, 2009WEB DEBUT: Feb. 20, 2009

ONE-LISTEN VERDICT: The “pop redemption” album from the inaugural American Idol is the latest album to debut online early because of a glitch by one of those so-called “legitimate download sites”; this time, the culprit is apparently the iTunes Store in Norway, which put the album on sale briefly earlier this afternoon.

So how is it? It’s a fun collection of pop tracks that’s carried in large part by Clarkson’s endlessly rootable personality and (slightly sweetened, but still undeniable) pipes, if a bit overlong. She makes “Long Shot,” the Glen Ballard composition that Katy Perry rendered annoying, twitchily listenable; meanwhile, “I Do Not Hook Up,” which was co-written by newly minted American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi, sounds kind of like it could have snuck into the track listing of Folie A Deux without disturbing much of that album’s overall feel. The album’s weakest tracks are the ones penned by OneRepublic’s main moaner Ryan Tedder—midway through the overly ponderous “Save You,” I thought, “uh oh, this album might wind up being a bit long.” (Although given the way that my resistance to Tedder’s work is directly proportional to the American public’s embrace of it, the track will probably wind up being embraced by the Delilah crowd a few months from now.)

THE BEST TRACK: “Whyyawannabringmedown” is an energetic number that has Kelly getting probably as close to punk-pop as she’s going to get. But really, all of the tracks co-written by former Color Me Badd crooner Sam Watters (there are three in total: “Why”; the Spoon-biting title track; and “I Want You,” which is a delectable retro cream puff) are the standouts. Can we maybe get a whole album of Clarkson songs penned by him and his partner Louis Biancaniello next?