Revisiting meaningful albums

Lauren Fitz and Lauren Fitz

About ten years ago, Kelly Clarkson, the original “American Idol” queen, released her third studio album, which was considered a letdown by many, especially considering her second album, “Breakaway,” had done so well on the music charts and in terms of songs that received radio airplay.

Well, my friends, it’s time to revisit “My December” and finally give the album the credit it deserves.

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I love Clarkson and her music. Her tour about four years ago with Maroon 5 was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to, and it’s not because I had a moment with Adam Levine during the concert (that’s a story for another time).

But, when “My December” was released in June 2007, I was an innocent 12-year-old girl whose biggest concern was whether I was going to wear flip-flops or tennis shoes to Kings Island that day. I could barely relate to any of the themes that were present on the album (though one could argue that I couldn’t relate to any of the themes on her previous two albums, but that’s not the point). Ten years later, I’m 22 and can relate to the themes of the album a lot better than before.

While “Never Again” got the most attention from the album, maybe it’s time to go back and re-evaluate the album. Or at least give a listen to the two of the most haunting songs in Clarkson’s expansive repertoire.

Which brings me to the fourth and 13th tracks on the album: a nearly five-minute long song entitled “Sober” and a four-ish minute long song “Irvine.”

Both songs deal with fighting your demons, but they both tell different stories. “Sober” deals with the ending of a relationship. But more so than that, it’s a brutally honest song about picking up the pieces when dark times come into your life. As the song progresses, more instrumentation is added and Clarkson’s vocals become more layered. It’s a beautiful and haunting song.

As for “Irvine,” it’s another simplistic song, but the meaning behind it is more than simple. Clarkson said she wrote the song in a bathroom in Irvine, California while she was burnt out and incredibly depressed. This is referenced throughout the song, especially in lyrics like “will you stay/stay till the darkness leaves/stay here with me.”

Both songs are starkly different from the rest of the album, which is a lot more rock-orientated than her previous two albums and her later albums. Some consider that to be the reason why the album didn’t perform well in terms of sales.

But as a 12-year-old who didn’t dig deeply into the meaning of songs, I didn’t care much about the songs upon listening to them for the first time. As a 22-year-old who always overthinks things and stresses out and loves to dig deeper into the meaning behind my favorite songs, both “Sober” and “Irvine” are the perfect songs that reminds me to take a step back and not let my fears drown me.

Even the title of the album is meaningful. “My December.” If you dig into the symbolism December is a month that deals with closing yourself off and letting things die. Clarkson said the album was a response to the tough touring schedule for “Breakaway.” “My December” is her partial response to closing herself off.

So, as we all grow older, maybe it’s time to revisit albums, or anything that we may have brushed off in the past, and give it a second chance to make sure we’re not being swayed by the opinions of those around us.

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