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September 27th, 2023

kelly clarkson chemistry spotlight pageELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Kelly Clarkson has been one of my favorite artists since she won “American Idol” and she has released many of my favorite songs in the years since then, including “Miss Independent,” “Behind These Hazel Eyes” and “Stronger,” among many others. So when she announced on Twitter she would be releasing a new album that coincided with her recent divorce proceedings, titled “Chemistry,” I knew I would have to give it a listen when it came out. 

I did exactly that earlier this week, and it is a very rare thing for an album to make me feel as many emotions as “Chemistry” did. 

The album starts off with the extremely raw and powerful “Skip This Part,” and it perfectly captures that feeling of wanting to feel good again after being in a hurtful situation. The way the chorus is written, I actually felt it could fit any type of emotional situation, whether it’s a breakup or the loss of a family member or any other similar situation. We’ve all been at that point where we want to skip over the hurt and bad feelings and go straight to the healing, and this song is the PERFECT opener and the perfect way to express those feelings. The album then continues with “Mine,” which is also very raw and powerful and expresses very well a person’s feelings of being alone and unloved in a relationship and constantly second-guessing whether or not YOU’RE the problem, and I would say these are the feelings felt immediately after the breakup happens. This song features rather minimal instruments throughout, and I absolutely loved the buildup with the last two verses. 

The album then continues with “High Road,” which is one of my favorites from the album because I feel like Clarkson perfectly expresses what it feels like to be the one taking the high road and being the bigger person ALL THE TIME and wanting to, just once, break free and take a shot below the belt of the other party. I feel like this song is kind of a stepchild of “Stronger” and “Since U Been Gone,” and to an extent, I feel like this is how Clarkson has felt during the entirety of her divorce proceedings. The next song, “Me,” feels like it comes a little while after a breakup when things start feeling better and you’re not quite emotional about everything. It’s very empowering and all about self-love and shows how if you’re in a bad situation, you can pick yourself up and fly again. The backup choir is fantastic and adds another amazing dimension to the song and the feelings. The next song, “Down To You” is kind of the opposite of “High Road” in the sense that “Down To You” is very encouraging of being sure to be the bigger person in a tough situation, whereas “High Road” is all about being tired of having to do that all the time. This is also very empowering and upbeat, and I can imagine it was rather cathartic for Clarkson. 

The next few songs, “Chemistry,” “Favorite Kind of High,” and “Magic” all capture those feelings shortly after a breakup of reflecting on the relationship and remembering the good times there were. I particularly liked “Chemistry” (which also deserves an acoustic version at some point) because I feel like there’s no shame in admitting there are moments where you miss those times, and since it’s more of a ballad, it’s kind of rare to have a song like that on a divorce album given how those tend to have more of a revenge feel. I also really liked “Magic” because it expresses really well how the feelings after a breakup are still so big and you’re not sure how to handle them all, and the 1980s vibe was also really neat to listen to. 

Another one of my favorite songs from the album is “Lighthouse” because I felt it accurately portrays the feelings going on right before deciding to end a relationship and shows how two people can love each other all they want, but sometimes that’s just not enough to sustain things. It also expresses really well how sometimes the things that make two people fall in love can later be what drives each other absolutely bonkers and deteriorate the relationship. This is another song on the album that deserves an acoustic version, and I imagine this was also very cathartic for Clarkson. Another song I particularly liked was “Red flag Collector,” which gives the album a good jolt of much-needed energy with its arena rock-esque tone (harkening back to Clarkson’s “My December” album a bit) given how a lot of the other songs are slower and more ballad-like. 

For the penultimate song on the album, Clarkson features Steve Martin on the banjo with “I Hate Love,” which I felt portrayed really well those feelings of hating basically anything positive after a breakup. I enjoyed the parts of Martin’s banjo playing I heard, but I felt like it got overshadowed by everything else, so I definitely would have liked to hear that more. The album then concludes with “That’s Right,” which has awesome salsa-esque vibes and similar to “Me,” takes place when the emotional dust is starting to clear and you’re starting to get back into the world a bit. Overall, it’s a fun way to end the album. 

Overall, I very much enjoyed Kelly Clarkson’s new “Chemistry” album and would give it a solid “A” grade. Clarkson’s powerful vocals are full of emotion with each song, and you can definitely tell it was very cathartic for her to put this album together. Each song definitely tells a story, and anyone who listens will find at least one they can relate to. However, I feel like there could have been a couple songs cut because the album does seem to go on just slightly too long. If you’re a fan of any of Clarkson’s other music, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy “Chemistry.”