Low (Kelly Clarkson song)
|Single by Kelly Clarkson|
|from the album Thankful|
|Released||August 3, 2003|
|Format||CD single, digital download|
|Genre||Pop rock, R&B|
"Low" is a song by American pop rock singer-songwriter, Kelly Clarkson, for her debut album, Thankful (2003). The song was written by Jimmy Harry and produced by Clif Magness. It was released as the album's second official single, on August 3, 2003, while it was also released as a double A-side single with "The Trouble with Love Is" in the UK.
The song is notable for being the first single in which Clarkson explores the "pop rock" element that would later define her career in singles like "Breakaway" and "Since U Been Gone". The song received favorable reviews from music critics who complimented her vocals and the song's lyrics. On March 5, 2013, Billboard ranked the song at number 87 in its list of Top 100 American Idol Hits of All Time.
Background and release
After some encouragement from friends, Jimmy Harry, the songwriter of "Low", asked singer-songwriter Danielle Brisebois to sing the demo and offered it to Britney and Kylie, but "it really wasn’t a good fit for what they were doing," said the songwriter. The song eventually found its way to Kelly, which initially filled Jimmy with apprehension. "I was a bit conflicted about Kelly doing the song," he admits. "Mostly because it seemed like they were going for a Celine Dion/Mariah Carey sort of vibe with her and I wasn’t sure how it was going to make sense with what I had heard from the rest of the record. I liked the version she cut a lot. I was expecting it to be a bit more pop than the way Clif Magness produced it."
After reaching number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with "Miss Independent", Clarkson wasn't immediately convinced that "Low" should be a single. Other contenders, and possible third singles, were "Just Missed the Train," "The Trouble with Love Is" and "You Thought Wrong," a duet with Tamyra Gray. Eventually, "Low" was released as the second single on August 3, 2003, and in the United Kingdom, the song was released as a double A-side single with "The Trouble With Love Is". Jimmy Harry was surprised when the song was chosen to be a single, "I think it was a big leap of faith to segue from ‘Miss Independent’ to ‘Low’ because the production and lyrical content were so different,' he continues. I was really surprised when I learned it was going to be the second single. I knew it was a great song. I’m happy it saw the light of day."
Composition and lyrics
"Low" was written by Jimmy Harry and produced by Cliff Magness, who also arranged and engineered the track. The midtempo pop rock and country-flavored track finds the singer reflecting on a broken relationship. "It's cool you didn't want me/ Sometimes you can't go back/ But why'd you have to go and make a mess like that?" she sings before asking in the chorus: "Have you ever been low? Have you ever had a friend that let you down?". Harry has said that "Low" "was a really personal song for me. I wrote it and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it because it was a pretty brutal lyric and I felt it wasn’t something a lot of pop artists would want to do."
Henry Goldblatt of Entertainment Weekly praised the vocal performance and wrote that Kelly owns country-ish "Low." Arion Berger of Rolling Stone wrote that "the album's producers jam Clarkson into the stilettos of MTV sexpots like Faith Hill in 'Low'."" Slant Magazine's editor Sal Cinquemani called it an "adult-skewed power ballad" "overwrought". Elysa Gardner of USA Today editor Elysa Gardner praised "Clarkson's singing", writing that it "can take on a sensual raspiness more evocative of blues-influenced rock artists, so that wistful but driving numbers such as 'Low' and 'Just Missed the Train' sound more authoritative than you might expect." Sputnikmusic praised "Miss Independent" and "Low", calling them "both huge singles that drove the album towards that platinum mark rather quickly." Mike Wass of Idolator praised the "surprisingly gritty" song, "which introduced the songstress to a sound she would explore more fully on the criminally underrated My December."
After the success of the previous singles, "A Moment Like This" and "Miss Independent", "Low" wasn't as successful as the last two singles. In the United States, "Low" was a mediocre hit, peaking at number fifty-eight on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also yielded disappointing results on several airplay charts, including the Top 40 Tracks and the Hot 100 Airplay, but did a little better by peaking at number fourteen on the Top 40 Mainstream. In the United Kingdom, "Low" was released as a double A-side single with "The Trouble with Love Is", where it peaked at number thirty-five.
The song proved to be more successful in Australia, debuting and peaking at number 11, on November 9, 2003, and receiving a gold certification in 2004. "Low" was able to breakthrough on the charts in Canada, where it peaked at number two. After debuting at number fifty-eight, the song slowly began climbing up the Canadian Singles Chart. Eight weeks later, "Low" had made it into the top ten, and eleven weeks following its debut, the song reached the number two position. On March 5, 2013, Billboard ranked the song at number 87 in its list of Top 100 American Idol Hits of All Time.
The accompanying music video was directed by Antti Jokinen, who also directed Clarkson's "A Moment Like This" and "Before Your Love" videos. Jokinen explained that he wanted Clarkson "to rock and kick ass a little bit more than she normally does." He also added that, "I listened to the lyrics and there were elements of lost love and feeling low, and there are some scenes directly from that, however they are portrayed in more metaphoric terms." About the video' storyline, J. said, "I had 'Thelma & Louise' in mind, but I don't think we wanted her to drive over the cliff." "I already thought it was kind of risky, because it shows such a different attitude than she normally portrays. She pulled it off and it was more about fun. It's more tongue-in-cheek than it is a serious, like, 'You messed me over and now I'm going to drive your car off a cliff.'"
The video opens with Clarkson cruising on a desert highway in a Jeep that viewers later learn belongs to an old flame. While driving, she envisions the guy driving by and holding up his number on a piece of paper, but she sings, "No, I don't need your number." Eventually, after cutting back from footage of her performing at a drive-in theater (with psychedelic imagery on the big screen), the video shows Clarkson pulling off the road near the edge of a cliff. Then, she stops with the front wheels just over the edge. She gets out, emotionless, and walks away, but not before kicking the bumper and sending the vehicle tumbling.
Formats and track listings
These are the formats and track listings of major single-releases of "Low".
- UK maxi CD single
- "Low"/"The Trouble with Love Is"
- "Low" (single version) - 3:29
- "The Trouble with Love Is" - 3:42
- "Respect" - 2:15
- "Low" (music video) - 3:28
- UK promo CD
- "Low" (radio edit) - 3:28
- "Low" (music video) - 3:28
- Australian maxi CD single
- "Low" (Radio Edit) - 3:28
- "Miss Independent" (Shanghai Surprise Club Mix) - 7:53
- "Miss Independent" (MaUVe Mix) - 7:55
- "Miss Independent" (Junior Vasquez Tribal) - 9:21
|Australia (ARIA Charts)||11|
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||2|
|UK (Official Charts Company)*||35|
|US Hot 100 (Billboard)||58|
|US Pop Songs (Billboard)||14|
|US Top 40 Tracks (Billboard)||24|
- In the UK, "The Trouble With Love Is" was released as a double-single with "Low", with both songs sharing the peak of number 35 on the UK charts.
^shipments figures based on certification alone
|United States||August 3, 2003||RCA Records||Mainstream radio|
|Australia||October 27, 2003||BMG Australia||CD single||82876573322|
|United Kingdom||November 17, 2003||RCA||CD Single||B0000DIGKW|
- Wass, Mike (April 15, 2013). "Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Thankful’ Turns 10: Backtracking". Idolator. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
- "R&R :: Going for Adds :: CHR/Top 40". Radio and Records. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- "The Trouble With Love Is" (Booklet) (Release notes). Kelly Clarkson. RCA Records. 2003.
- Moss, Corey (July 15, 2003). "A New 'Low' For Kelly Clarkson As She Seeks Out Revenge". MTV News. Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- Goldblatt, Henry (April 25, 2003). "Thankful Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-02-24.
- Berger, Arion (April 22, 2003). "Thankful". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- Cinquemani, Sal (April 17, 2003). "Kelly Clarkson: Thankful". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- Gardner, Elysa (April 14, 2003). "Clarkson's 'Thankful' much obliged to many". USA Today.
- "Kelly Clarkson - Thankful (album review) - Sputnikmusic". Sputnikmusic. May 26, 2006. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
- "Thankful - Kelly Clarkson - Awards - Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
- "Kelly Clarkson | Artist | Official Charts". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "Australian-Charts.com - Kelly Clarkson - Low". ARIA Charts. Retrieved November 18, 2013.
- Bronson, Fred. "Top 100 'American Idol' Hits of All Time". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Moss, Corey (July 15, 2003). "A New 'Low' For Kelly Clarkson As She Seeks Out Revenge". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
- "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2004 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association.
- "Low / The Trouble With Love: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 11 December 2013.