Breakaway is Kelly Clarkson's sophomore album. It was released on November 30, 2004 by RCA Records.
In early 2004, Kelly began working on new material for her second studio album which followed her successful debut album Thankful while co-headlining the Independent Tour with Clay Aiken (the runner-up from the second season of "American Idol").
She had also expressed intentions to record with Fantasia Barrino (who had then just won the series' third season) and they were expected to release their albums in the same month.
As she began to work for the album with music executive Clive Davis, Kelly was invited by Whitney Houston to record the song "Breakaway" which would be included for the soundtrack of the 2004 Walt Disney Pictures feature film "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement" (which Houston had co-produced.
The song (written by Avril Lavigne, Matthew Gerrard and Bridget Benenate) was initially written for Avril's 2002 debut album "Let Go," but it was deemed unsuitable for the album's themes at the time.
Initially reluctant, Kelly agreed to record the song "Breakaway" was first released on July of 2004 by Walt Disney Records as a single from the soundtrack, acting as an interim record until her second album's lead single was released.
After debuting on the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 60, it peaked at number six, a week before the album's release.
In April of 2004, Kelly entered the studio immediately after the Independent Tour She said in an interview:
"I've written most of (the songs) so far, but there's some people who have some stuff for me. I'm not one of those people who thinks you have to write everything. (I'll sing it) as long as I can relate to it."
During the album's development, Davis revealed that he was reluctant to let Kelly write material for the album.
"I always encourage people to write their own songs, but in the pop arena, where the career is totally dependent on hits, you get skeptical. Artists with great voices like Melissa Manchester and Taylor Dayne could have had much longer careers if they didn't insist on writing their own material."
Kelly reiterates that she's been writing songs since her teenage years, but rather than argue over labels or abilities, the two reached a détente: she would co-write half the album with the other half being penned by other songwriters and producers.
"I just think it's funny that all these middle-age guys told me, 'You don't know how a pop song needs to sound.' I'm a 23-year-old girl! But I was fighting those battles alone."
In February of 2004, Kelly met with musicians Ben Moody and David Hodges, who had just departed from their band Evanescence in late 2003.
"I didn't know that he (Moody) wasn't with Evanescence anymore. I just really liked their vibe and I thought it might be cool to work with one of them. So I just randomly asked people I work with, 'Hey, do you think that he'd work with me?' And then I found out that he kind of split and that's what he's doing ... so it worked out perfectly."
"It's cool because she wants to do some branching out, and I'm doing nothing but branching out, We got together and she had all these songs in mind of what she wanted to do. It's just a really, really cool process for me, because everybody is a new experience. Everybody works differently."
Worried of Kelly being continually typecast as a talent show winner, Davis met with various producers, primarily Max Martin and encouraged them to produce records for her in a pop rock direction.
Kelly revealed that she expected that she'll always be labeled as an "American Idol" winner, she remarked:
"I'm the first one, so it's going to be on my grave, I'm aware of that. (There's no getting away from it) so why even try?"
Upon their meeting, Martin presented songs he wrote with Dr. Luke which included "Since U Been Gone" and a demo version of what would have been "Behind These Hazel Eyes."
Davis wanted Kelly to record the songs, describing them having "a sharp rock edge but were still capable of being pop hits. They would push Kelly in a promising direction for her, while maintaining and even growing her audience."
"Max was looking to move on from what he had done with Backstreet Boys, and I really spent time convincing them that an American Idol winner could bring all the feeling and passion that was required to the song."
Martin and Dr. Luke eventually agreed and invited Kelly to travel to Sweden to record the songs.
Upon hearing the tracks, Kelly was skeptical of the pop elements; and the three eventually decided to develop a rock sound, a move that she claimed Davis did not approve of.
Davis reiterated that he was ecstatic with the prospect, claiming that she disliked it and demanded that both the songs be removed from the album.
Kelly then asserted that she wanted it to be on the record and claimed that Davis had detested "Because of You" instead, saying that she "was a shitty writer (sic) who should be grateful for the gifts that he bestows upon."
Davis reiterated the he loved the song and felt that Kelly could indeed write hits.
Wanting to stray away from the R&B-styled music of "Thankful" which Kelly described as a showcase of versatility, she revealed that Thankful's success "empowered me to step more into rock, step more into the soulful vibe."
She described the music of the second album as "like the first CD in the sense that it's versatile, but it's more into the rock, It's more into the soulful roots, and it's just a little bit deeper, so it's pretty cool."
Dr. Luke revealed in an interview that alternative music and indie music were inspirations to "Since U Been Gone," saying:
"That was a conscious move by Max and myself, because we were listening to alternative and indie music and talking about some song-I don't remember what it was. I said, 'Ah, I love this song,' and Max was like, 'If they would just write a damn pop chorus on it!' It was driving him nuts, because that indie song was sort of on six, going to seven, going to eight, the chorus comes ... and it goes back down to five. It drove him crazy. And when he said that, it was like, light bulb. 'Why don't we do that, but put a big chorus on it?' It worked."
Songs such as "Behind These Hazel Eyes" and "Because of You" were also inspired by Kelly's real life experiences, the former about her relationship with an ex-boyfriend and the latter about her experience after her parents' divorce.
Kelly shares writing credits on six songs from the album.
The song "Breakaway" was included as the album's opening and title track. She described it as a simple song, and further explained:
"I think that it's simplicity is what's beautiful about it. Whenever writers or producers come to work with me, they take advantage of the fact that I can really belt it out. What's cool about 'Breakaway' is that it doesn't take advantage of that. The song just uses the simplicity of my voice. I've done country music, I've done pop, I've done gospel... all of my singles have sounded different. But this song was different from everything I've done; people didn't even know it was me!"
Written by Martin and Dr. Luke, Kelly described the second track "Since U Been Gone", as "not as "smooth" as pop or R&B. It's very emotional. Vocally, it can be a lot more challenging, but is very fun to play live."
Written by Kelly, Dr. Luke, and Martin, the third track "Behind These Hazel Eyes", was the last song to be recorded for the album.
"I wrote 'Behind The Hazel Eyes' about my last boyfriend. It's the last song I wrote for the album, I almost didn't make the deadline."
The fourth track, "Because of You", was originally intended for the "Thankful" album.
Kelly wrote a draft of the song after a late night talk with a friend who had hard time with her family with Moody and Hodges providing additional writing.
The fifth track "Gone" was written by Kara DioGuardi and John Shanks.
She admits she cannot relate thoroughly on the song, but felt that it should be heard nonetheless. The sixth track "Addicted" was written by Kelly, Moody and Hodges.
Kelly revealed that the song was inspired by the songs featured on Evanescence's 2003 debut album "Fallen."
"I wanted to work on them with someone as passionate about music as I am. And then I heard that Evanescence record ... I loved their record because of the passion behind it."
On November 25, 2004, Kelly (along with Ruben Studdard & Fantasia Barrino) hosted a television musical special for FOX called "Kelly, Ruben & Fantasia: Home for Christmas."
On the eve of the album's release, Kelly performed "Since U Been Gone" on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."
On February 2005, she appeared on Saturday Night Live to perform "Since U Been Gone" and "Breakaway."
On September 2005, Kelly appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and performed "Breakaway" along with "Because of You."
She also performed in award ceremonies and events, she performed "Since U Been Gone" on the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards at the AmericanAirlines Arena and on the 2006 BRIT Awards at the Earls Court.
Kelly performed "Because of You" on the 48th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center and on the 15th Echo Awards at the Estrel Berlin.
"Breakaway" was first released in the North America on November 30, 2004 by RCA Records, 19 Recordings and S Records, following an influx of releases by American Idol contestants Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino.
The New York Times columnist Jeff Leeds noted that the release could benefit from a holiday season, but "it could also hinder their efforts to establish themselves as recording artists with distinctive personalities and the legitimacy needed for long careers."
Davis reiterated that the release was intended to recede from their ties from American Idol, saying:
"I'm not interested in merely souvenir sales."
The album was titled Breakaway to capitalize on the success of the The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement soundtrack single "Breakaway" which was also reissued as the album's final single.
Immediately before the album was released, Kelly left 19 Management, dismissed Fuller as her manager and quickly hired the managing services of Jeff Kwatinetz of the The Firm even though she was still contracted to 19 Recordings.
A promotion plan was created for Kelly for the release of "Breakaway."
Davis positioned Kelly to be RCA's top global priority and at the recommendation of The Firm, he removed American Idol from her official biography.
Rather than being booked on arenas for her tour, Kwatinetz booked Kelly for smaller amphitheaters to hone her performance skills, remarking:
"American Idol gave her a lot of exposure that allowed her to skip some steps in her development, and that's hazardous."
On January 3, 2005, the album was first released internationally by the Bertelsmann Music Group (now Sony Music Entertainment) and was released in the United Kingdom on July 18, 2005 by RCA.
On November 2005, a special edition CD+DVD was released, containing additional bonus tracks and music videos.
- Breakaway (3:57) (written by Matthew Gerrard, Bridget Benenate & Avril Lavigne; produced by John Shanks)
- Since U Been Gone (3:12) (written by Max Martin & Lukasz Gottwald; produced by Dr. Luke)
- Behind These Hazel Eyes (3:18) (written by Kelly Clarkson & Martin Gottwald; produced by Martin Gottwald)
- Because of You (3:39) (written by Kelly Clarkson, David Hodges & Ben Moody; produced by David Hodges & Ben Moody)
- Gone (3:27) (written by Kara DioGuardi & John Shanks; produced by John Shanks)
- Addicted (3:57) (written by Kelly Clarkson, David Hodges & Ben Moody; produced by David Hodges & Ben Moody)
- Where Is Your Heart (4:39) (written by Kelly Clarkson, Kara DioGuardi & Chantal Kreviazuk; produced by Raine Maida & Chantal Kreviazuk)
- Walk Away (3:08) (written by Kelly Clarkson, Kara DioGuardi, Chantal Kreviazuk & Raine Maida; produced by Raine Maida, Kara DioGuardi & Chantal Kreviazuk)
- You Found Me (3:39) (written by Kara DioGuardi & John Shanks; produced by John Shanks)
- I Hate Myself for Losing You (3:20) (written by Kara DioGuardi, Jimmy Harry & Shep Solomon; produced by Clif Magness)
- Hear Me (3:56) (written by Kelly Clarkson, Kara DioGuardi & Clif Magness; produced by Clif Magness)
- Beautiful Disaster (Live) (4:34) (written by Matthew Wilder & Rebekah Jordan)
AllMusic senior editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave "Breakaway" a four out of five stars, and wrote:
"What gives Breakaway its spine are the driving, anthemic pop tunes, numbers that sound simultaneously mainstream and youthful, which is a hard trick to pull off" and describing the tracks as the ones that illustrate Clarkson as a rare thing in the 2000s: a pop singer who's neither hip nor square, just solidly and enjoyably in the mainstream."
Sputnikmusic's Dave Donnelly gave it a "4" rating, remarking that:
"Breakaway is not a Thriller to her Off The Wall by no means, but that she has at least created a rare type of album: a one that which offers a full selection of potential singles, reminiscent of Michael Jackson's Bad or Thriller, which he described as having a mass appeal with artistic integrity and perceived longevity. Breakaway may be remembered in years to come as a pop classic, alongside Madonna's early material perhaps."
Raymond Fiore of Entertainment Weekly gave the album a "B" rating, noting it's rock direction and describing it as "Avril-meets-Evanescence, with a splash of Pat Benatar."
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine gave Breakaway a three-and-a-half star rating, and commented that
"Though her rocky leanings were hinted at on the less coherent Thankful, Clarkson had always cited Mariah Carey as a primary influence and that she still owes a lot to that former powerhouse artist. Furthering describing it as "what Mariah might sound like if she ever decided to rock out."
Charles Merwin wrote for Stylus Magazine that the album's probable non-singles still maintain a quality "high enough to quell worries about the "I love the singles, but that's all I really need to hear" arguments."
He described Kelly as ranking some where at the top of her class as far as rock albums go among the teen pop set, saying that she "has a long way to go before we'll ever feel comfortable calling her anything besides an American Idol, but for now she has a sound that seems believable enough to support her considerable chops."
In a quick review, Billboard described the album as a "rare exhibition of substance over style."
Some critics, however, were less impressed by the album.
Shirley Halperin of the Rolling Stone offered a mixed review. Giving the album a three-star rating, saying Kelly isn't ready for her new sound.
"You can't help but wonder, Who is the real Kelly Clarkson, and when will she stop wearing her big sister's hand-me-downs?"
Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian gave it a two-star rating, saying that the title track expresses Kelly's novel desire to "spread my wings and learn to fly," but settles into a catchy enough rut that at times."
"Breakaway" is currently Kelly's most successful release to date with sales of over 15 million copies worldwide.
On the week ending December 18, 2004, the album debuted at number three on Billboard 200 chart in the United States with 250,000 copies which were 47,000 less than her first week sales of "Thankful."
Music commercial analysts noted that Clarkson's commercial appeal has endured beyond American Idol, but also commented on its slumping performance.
Billboard director Geoff Mayfield noted the lackluster performance may have been caused by being released in a competitive holiday market.
Despite failing to top the chart, the record stayed on the top twenty of the Billboard 200 for 61 consecutive weeks and became the first title in five years to spend its entire year in the top twenty of the chart.
By the end of 2005, it became the year's third best-selling album in the United States, according to Nielsen Soundscan.
It was certified 6× multi-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America on May 23, 2007 and as of 2014, it has sold over 6,307,000 copies in the United States and becoming her best-selling record in the region.
The album has also enjoyed commercial success internationally, becoming Kelly's first album to chart in over nineteen regions.
By the end of 2005, the album became the world's seventh best-selling release of the year according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
In the United Kingdom, the album debuted on the Official UK Albums Chart at number ten with 17,631 copies.
At the beginning of 2006, the album ascended to number three on the chart. As of 2012, it has sold over 1,571,278 copies in the region.
In Australia, "Breakaway" debuted on the ARIA Albums Chart at number twenty-nine, and also spent its entire year on the top fifty, peaking at number two.
In Ireland, the album debuted on the IRMA Artist Albums chart at number twenty-one, and topped the chart in 2006.
Together with the Australian Recording Industry Association, the Irish Recorded Music Association certified the record as 7× multi-platinum (its highest certification overall).
In the Netherlands, the album debuted on the Mega Album Top 100 at number forty-seven and topped the chart for three weeks.
In other regions, the album peaked in the top five in the national charts of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland; and has attained a top twenty position in six regions worldwide.
The album has received various accolades from several music industry awards. It won Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Album and Grammy Award for "Best Female Pop Vocal Performance" for "Since U Been Gone" at the 49th ceremony, marking the first time she won a Grammy Award.
It was also nominated for a Juno Award for "International Album of the Year" at the 36th Juno Awards.
In the 2005 American Music Awards, "Breakaway" received four nominations, including "Favorite Pop/Rock Album" and earned Kelly two awards for "Artist of the Year" & "Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist."
In addition, she won the award for "Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist" at the 2006 American Music Awards.
It also earned her twelve nominations at the 2005 Billboard Music Awards, nine of which she had won.
At the 2005 Teen Choice Awards, Breakaway won four awards including a "Choice Album" award.
At the TMF Awards, the album enabled Kelly to win three awards, including a Best Pop Artist and a Best Female Artist award. The album also appeared on decade-end best-of lists. Newsweek ranked it as the ninth best album of the 2000s.
Entertainment Weekly ranked it as the 29th of the 100 best albums from 1988 to 2008.
- Vocals – Kelly Clarkson
- Background vocals – Kelly Clarkson, Suzie Benson & Danielle Brisebois
- Bass – Paul Bushnell, Jason Lader, Clif Magness, Marty O'Brien, John Shanks
- Drums – Kenny Aronoff, Mark Colbert, Randy Cooke, Olle Dahlstedt, Steve Ferrera, Josh Freese, Shawn Pelton, Jeff Rothschild
- Guitars – Rhett Lawrence, Clif Magness, Raine Maida, Ben Moody, Phil X, Olle Romo, John Shanks
- Keyboards and piano – David Hodges, Jason Halbert, Clif Magness, John Shanks
- Strings – Victor Lawrence, Shanti Randall, Mark Robertson, Shalini Vijayan
- Other instrumentation – Dr. Luke, Max Martin
- A&R – Stephen Ferrera
- Arrangement – David Campbell, Chantal Kreviazuk, David Hodges, Raine Maida, Clif Magness
- Art directors – Robin C. Hendrickson, Brett Kilroe
- Engineers – Lars Fox, Toby Francis, Clif Magness, Mark Valentine
- Pro Tools engineers – Johan Brorsson, John Hanes
- Assistant engineers – Jon Berkowitz, Sergio Chavez, Kevin Harp, Mark Kiczula, *Aaron Lepley, Renson Mateo, Glenn Pittman, Cesar Ramirez
- Songwriters – Christina Aguilera, Bridget Benenate, Kelly Clarkson, Kara DioGuardi, Chantal Kreviazuk, David Hodges, Matthew Gerrard, Lukasz Gottwald, Jimmy Harry, Rebekah Jordan, Avril Lavigne, Rhett Lawrence, Raine Maida, Clif Magness, Martin Sandberg, Ben Moody, Matt Morris, John Shanks, Shep Solomon, Matthew Wilder
- Managers – Simon Fuller, Jeff Kwatinetz
- Mastering – Joe Yannece
- Mixers – Bob Clearmountain, Serban Ghenea, Brad Gilderman, Rhett Lawrence, Steve McMillan, Dave Pensado, Jeff Rothschild, John Shanks
- Assistant mixers – Kevin Harp, Tim Roberts
- Photographer – Tony Duran. James White
- Executive producer – Clive Davis
- Producers – Kara DioGuardi, Dr. Luke, Chantal Kreviazuk, David Hodges, Rhett Lawrence, Raine Maida, Clif Magness, Max Martin, Ben Moody, John Shanks
- Production coordinator – Shari Sutcliffe
- Programming – Jason Lader, Clif Magness
- Recording – Lasse Mårtén