'American Idol' winner's rush job misses the mark

It's not "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson's fault that her first recording as a bona fide pop star, the two-song nugget featuring "A Moment Like This" and "Before Your Love" that landed in stores Tuesday, is a bit underwhelming.

After all, Clarkson did her part. As she did onstage during the Fox TV show, the 20-year-old Texan sings the heck out of the two ballads, unleashing her powerful pipes and Whitney-esque R&B; growls to herd the tunes toward their big finales.

It's just that the CD can't possibly capture a smidgen of the magic that was the TV show, where we watched the evolution and coronation of a talented, poised and infinitely likable new star. It was the kind of television that left even jaded viewers misty-eyed and pondering new and hopeful possibilities for the pop-music business.

Unfortunately, this CD drags poor Clarkson into pop-music business as usual, offering nothing more than rote studio versions of two songs she sang � and sang, and sang! � during the "American Idol" two-part finale. It doesn't help that the songs, penned by such A-list hitmakers as Desmond Child, Cathy Dennis and Jorgen Elofsson, are drippy, rush-to-verse ballads that cut and paste from every other Top 40 pop single we've heard in the past two years.

You'd be better off skipping this CD and hoping that Clarkson's first full-length album, due out early next year, is more worthy of her talents. Of course, it could be worse � we could be listening to Justin Guarini singing these songs.


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