‘Dark Side’ by Kelly Clarkson: A review

Dark Side isn’t particularly poetic. Lyrically it’s creative-writing-class standard at best.

But one of the reasons why it’s been so popular is because it’s relatable. It taps into a very common human emotion – insecurity:

Nobody’s a picture perfect
But we’re worth it
You know that we’re worth it
Will you love me?
Even with my dark side?

It’s not just a theme but a “truth” – as a 12-year-old girl, a Clarkson fan, called it. And I can’t really fault Clarkson especially when the music video includes socially conscious commentary and explores sub-themes like addiction, bullying and alcoholism.

Personally, though, that saccharine music box tinkling makes it hard to take this song’s message to heart.

I can’t help but dismiss it as the needlessly emotional ultimatum of a self-absorbed, neurotic teenage girl to her boyfriend:

Like a diamond
From black dust
It’s hard to know
It can become
A few give up
So don’t give up on me
Please remind me who I really am

Clarkson has pretty and powerful vocals – a fantastic combination – but what Dark Side needs is wretchedness (think Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt). Or, if that’s too depressing, the gritty conviction of I’ll Stand by You by the Pretenders.

In short: capital idea, soft sell.

(Three out of five stars)

Postscript:

On a lighter note, here’s a recent Video on Trial episode pointing fun at Dark Side‘s overdramatic title:

I don’t think you know what ‘dark side’ means. I told a lie once – not a dark side. I skinned a man alive – dark side!

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