Wednesday, November 25, 2009

3. Kelly Clarkson "Since U Been Gone" (2004)

I don’t think I need to convince anyone how improbable it was that an overblown talent show like American Idol (indirectly) begat a song as superb as Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.” (I know Eurovision begat “Waterloo,” but still.) It is, without question, the best pop song of the decade, a song so good everyone thought it was totally awesome when it came out.

It still is.

While there many reasons to love the song – the crunchy electric guitars, the Wall of Kelly that wails in the chorus, the loud/soft dynamic shift that still thrills – it’s all about the melody, which if slowed down would make a gorgeous ballad. It also helps that Clarkson is eminently likable.

“Since U Been Gone” is, of course, a kiss-off. But there doesn’t seem to be a shred of sadness in the lyric. The song is like an exuberant sigh of relief. I can breathe for the first time.

I used to work at a club, in the DJ booth. I remember how the entire dance floor would jump up and down, arms up high, when “Since U Been Gone” hit its chorus. That reaction has a name: pop bliss.

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