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Kelly Clarkson 

Wednesday, Nov 25 2009

Kelly Clarkson invites so many cooks into her kitchen that it's no surprise when her albums tend to be uneven affairs. But when American Idol's first winner is handed a gem, she knows exactly what to do with it, as heard on her hits "My Life Would Suck Without You" and "Since U Been Gone." After suffering through a career-threatening publicity nightmare (the release of 2007's My December was highlighted by an ill-advised feud with label honcho Clive Davis), she emerged relatively unscathed, returning earlier this year with the well-received All I Ever Wanted. But it's onstage where Clarkson truly shines, displaying a gifted voice that distances her from contemporaries who rely on lip-synching to hit the right notes.

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Marc Hawthorne


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