Rock it: Too Soon for a greatest hits album?

Posted on November 14, 2013

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Rock It: Too soon for a greatest hits album?

Kelly Clarkson performs onstage during the 40th American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

Kelly Clarkson performs onstage during the 40th American Music Awards held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.

By: RACHAEL MATTICE

Kelly Clarkson will forever be known as the first “American Idol,” the “Idol” winner with the best-selling single to date with more than 3.8 million sales in the U.S. alone and as of Monday, the first “Idol” to release a greatest hits CD. But does she deserve it?

Being a 30-year-old pop artist with only five studio albums in the past 10 years, regardless of the top-charting, money-making singles, releasing “Greatest Hits: Chapter One” this week seems too soon for an artist of her age and accomplishments.

Her 75 awards and 135 nominations are outstanding, no doubt, but not in comparison to a league of musicians and bands that compiled these albums when the world deemed them worthy of that stature. Rock exemplars such as KISS, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones (with their release “GRRR!” last week) and newer groups Incubus and the Foo Fighters didn’t release a greatest hits album until they were 15 years deep.

The “life” of a popstar is drastically shorter butjust as competitive, making their time in the spotlight a gruesome battle and a year-by-year measure.

Older pop artists, however, followed traditional rock rules. Whitney Houston came out with “Whitney: The Greatest Hits” 16 years after her debut and Warner Bros. unveiled Prince’s “The Hits/The B-Sides” 15 years after his first album release.

So what changed to allow younger pop artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Britney Spears, Fall Out Boy, Jennifer Lopez and even Aaron Carter to receive that rank of historical musician?

The trend demonstrates how digital technology has made music more accessible and how music streaming through YouTube and Pandora as well as awards shows manipulate what is hot and what is not.

Because several A-list stars have been elbowing Kelly Clarkson backward for the past few years, she has been trying new angles with country music to reach a different demographic and win back old fans.

“Greatest Hits: Chapter One” is an attempt to keep an increasingly fading light on the Texas native after the country angle and after her “American Idol” reign is no longer relevant in fans’ minds, soprano belter or not.

Artists become eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first record. Like the Rock induction, greatest hits honors should replicate the “significance of the artists’ contributions to the development and perpetuation” of music. Kelly Clarkson’s significance as a musician is still several years short.

Mattice is a producer and music journalist for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached at rmattice@jconline.com .

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Posted in: "Rock It" Column