Kelly Clarkson has long been a force in pop music, from 2004's "Breakaway" to her most recent smash, 2015's "Heartbeat Song," and now she's poised to release her eighth album, Meaning of Life, on October 27, led by the sensual single she released today, "Love So Soft."
You don't get to the top of pop, and remain there for years, without adapting to the times. Clarkson and her songwriting team for Meaning -- which includes past collaborators Jason Halbert, Jesse Shatkin, Greg Kurstin and new faces Mick Schultz, The Monarch and Nick Ruth -- know this well. "Love So Soft" makes familiar hallmarks of current pop Clarkson's own, from the emphasis on percussion (Taylor's new singles, anyone?) over melodies and a chorus that's — in a surprising move for Clarkson — more chanted than belted. Of course, it's still Clarkson's pipes that pull "Love So Soft" out of ubiquitous-anonymous, grocery aisle territory; few others have her easy confidence and her vocal ability, flaunted to the full on the bridge and final chorus.
The video for "Love So Soft" teems with breathtaking looks and visuals, which shouldn't come as a surprise given director Dave Meyers' resume, which includes the recent marvels of Kendrick Lamar's "Humble" and "Loyalty" videos, as well as the video for Missy Elliott's 2015 comeback single "WTF (Where They From)." There's much spectacle to take in here, from a flowing yellow gown that transmutes into butterflies; a series of Clarkson clones, eyes obscured by hat brims in what feels like a nod to Beyonce's "Formation" video; a bold zoom into Clarkson in the living room of an avant-garde, cliff-side abode.