Low (Kelly Clarkson song)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2012)|
|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 #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."
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." The music video features Clarkson driving in a car. During the chorus she is shown singing "Low" live. The car is presumably her ex's; at the end of the video she pushes it off a cliff.
Although previous singles, "A Moment Like This" and "Miss Independent", had been hits, at this point in her career Clarkson was still being dismissed by critics who felt that she was still an American Idol product, and that her two hits had been flukes. They predicted that her career would go downhill with the release of "Low" – and they were right, but only for a little while. "Low" was a mediocre hit, peaking at number fifty-eight on the Billboard Hot 100. 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 also performed poorly, peaking at number thirty-five. It did, however, do a little better in Australia, coming in at number eleven and achieving gold status.
"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. This came as a surprise to many critics and fans of Clarkson's in other countries around the world. In High School Musical auditions, Vanessa Hudgens sang an a cappella version of the song.
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
|Australian ARIA Singles Chart||11|
|Canadian Singles Chart||2|
|UK Singles Charts
with "The Trouble with Love Is"
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100||58|
|U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream||14|
|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.
- Moss, Corey (July 15, 2003). "A New 'Low' For Kelly Clarkson As She Seeks Out Revenge". MTV. Viacom. Retrieved April 12, 2012.