Breakaway introduced to teen pop a tension-and-release confessionalism more commonly associated with alt-rockers like Evanescence or Weezer. On her post-breakup celebration “Since U Been Gone,” the American Idol winner chides herself for falling for a “stupid love song”; on the piano-powered ballad “Because of You,” she credits—or maybe blames—a parent for playing it too safe. Full-throated gems “Gone” and “Walk Away” are pushed along by crunchy guitars that suggest she’d been listening to Pat Benatar. Here Clarkson stretches her horizons and undoubtedly her audience as well.

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