Song: ‘My Life Would Suck Without You’
Artist: Kelly Clarkson
US chart peak: 1
Release date: January 13, 2009
Writers: Max Martin, Lukasz Gottwald, Claude Kelly
Producers: Max Martin, Dr Luke
Quintessential Max moment: The cascading drums at the 2:57 mark
Video synopsis: Various relationship hi-jinks sandwiched between a flip-phone advert
Dame Kelly of Clarkson has probably been the least publicly reverential about the work of Max Martin, despite him being partly responsible for three of her biggest US hit singles. Pushed to record with him and Dr Luke for her 2004 album ‘Breakaway’ by label boss Clive Davis, she refused to repeat that process again for 2007’s darker ‘My December’, going on to say that she never really liked the finished version of ‘Since U Been Gone’ (oh Kelly). Perhaps it was because of lacklustre sales of ‘My December’ or – let’s offer the benefit of the doubt here – she just fancied another chance to work with them both, Clarkson reunited the old team for follow-up album ‘All I Ever Wanted’’s fizzing first single, ‘My Life Would Suck Without You’.
As with ‘Since U Been Gone’, ‘My Life Would Suck Without You’ fuses the dynamics of rock and dance, opening with a lone guitar riff before big zipping synths launch it skywards for the chorus. And what a bloody chorus it is, honestly. It’s basically the musical equivalent of popping a mint in a giant bottle of coke and watching it skyrocket and whizz about all over the show. Yes it’s not that dissimilar to ‘Since U Been Gone’ but why is that ever a bad thing? Let all songs be ‘Since U Been Gone’ facsimiles and close pop music for a year. No one would mind.
Anyway, a lot of the credit for ‘My Life Would Suck…’’s final brilliance is down to Clarkson herself, who not only sings the shit out of it, elegantly traversing the song’s ‘I hate you, but I fucking love you forever’ dichotomy with typical brilliance (pain and sadness never sounds as transcendental as when Kelly’s at full pelt), but also rescuing it from the doldrums. In an interview in 2011, Clarkson was asked what her favourite and least favourite singles were and she stumped for ‘My Life Would Suck…’ as the answer for both.
“It’s my least favourite because when I first heard it, it did not sound like what it sounds like now, and I really had to fight to make that song better than it was,” she mused in an interview with Same Same.
Apparently the verses had things like “I saw you smoking pot and I thought that was cool” and basically lots of things Dame Kelly would never say. “I didn’t even get it, it was trying so hard to be edgy and cool that I wanted to vomit! I didn’t really like it at all. But Luke, Claude and Max were cool with me having a hand in that. It ended up being one of my favourites now to perform live because everybody gets up for that song. And it’s a great song now, it’s a fun song.”
She’s right, it is a fun song!
SPURIOUS CHART RECORD ALERT: It holds a US chart record for the biggest single week rise to Number 1 after leaping from 97 to the top spot. Quite good.
Incidentally, Clarkson’s only chart-topper since then is 2012’s ‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’, which is one of the greatest things the human race has ever created. While not directly the work of Max Martin, it’s co-written by Jörgen Elofsson, who started his songwriting career at Cheiron.