Kelly Clarkson: "My December"
Producer: Dave Kahne
Label: RCA
Release Date: June 26

Despite the tabloid drama surrounding "My December," what counts here is: Are there hits? The vinegar-and-pissed-off "Never Again," while a top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit on download sales, got a hasty brush-off from top 40. The reflective but equally fretful "Sober" is just hitting radio, with the jury out. On the whole, "My December" is melodically, instrumentally and lyrically combative -- a far cry from America's embraceable sweetheart. The uptempo "One Minute" is among the only playful cuts, with its rapid-fire give-and-take verses, while "Be Still" and "Maybe" offer acoustic relief from the onslaught more than halfway through the set. No, "My December" is hardly a scorecard of top 40 hits, but it does demonstrate an artist eager to spread wings and search for her own voice against what Clarkson asserts was a heavy corporate hand over previous efforts. --Chuck Taylor