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13 May 2010 @ 11:04 pm
Bp's Song of the Week #80: Kelly Clarkson "Stuff Like That There" (live)  
It was the summer of 2002 and I was not following the new TV phenomenon known as American Idol. CNN’s American Morning did a re-cap of the show before the finale one morning and I was floored by a gorgeous woman with a monster voice. I recorded that night’s finale and watched Kelly Clarkson win the first season’s title of American Idol.

Then somehow, I’m foggy on the details (I know, that’s rare when it comes to artists) someone from eBay sent me a burn of the audio from all of her performances on Season One and some pre-AI demos. I was listening to that disc this week and was again blown away by Kelly’s voice. I’ve watched each season of A.I. since and there has not been a vocalist that is even in the same league. The diversity, tone, charisma, stage presence, and control are unparalleled. Carrie Underwood comes close, but doesn’t match KC.

Kelly Clarkson “Stuff Like That There”

This is a better version but with 40 seconds of AI footage before the actual performance.

From Big Band night Kelly just tears it up on this classic. She is in total command of the performance. The sliding up and down the vocal register with ease, the seductive growling, the knee-buckling “stuff like that there” at 1:18, the facial expressions, the charm; it’s all completely effortless. She brings a playfulness and modern, yet classic sound to the track that doesn’t exist on the Betty Hutton and Bette Midler versions.

This was my favorite on that AI compilation disc from the start, but when I found the youtube video years later I was totally drawn in. It’s not just this song, she brings a similar vocal command to whatever she sings. It’s a shame that she has yet to make a great album from start to finish. There are gems within each album, “Beautiful Disaster,” “Because of You,” “Just Missed the Train,” “Sober,” and “Long Shot” to name a few, but I’d love to hear an album that showcased her voice and the emotional resonance it can deliver. That hasn’t been done yet.

Here’s some more great Kelly footage:
A Moment Like This
This is from immediately after she won, perfection it isn’t, but it’s real and real emotion. The tears, the vocal cracks, the purring growl on “something,” the joy in her eyes and on her face are amazing. The emotion at 2:30-2:45 where she almost loses it at the climax of the song, she knows it too, you can see the tongue biting smile before she balks on the big vocal line…the sparking waterfall drops and vocally she’s nowhere to be found….it’s a ruined moment, but it isn’t – it’s made that much more chilling at that point because she ISN’T there, because she’s overwhelmed – you can’t help but love that.

Because of You – it doesn’t get much better than this
Because of You (a cappella version) – it just got better. If this doesn’t bring you to your knees, you’re not alive
Long Shot
Already Gone (live Letterman)