Pop Den Mother Needs a Taste of Her Own Medicine

Kara DioGuardi has been co-writer, co-producer, background singer, and probably bottle washer and therapist for a whole hunk of the best pop music of the last half-decade. She's helped Hilary Duff to create fragile beauty and Lindsay Lohan to frolic and cry and Ashlee Simpson to restlessly probe herself and Kelly Clarkson to scream her guts out. Problem is that when she works with anyone much older than mid-twenties, the music dulls out. Now at age 35, with Platinum Weird, she's singing lead on her first major release, working with Dave Stewart (age 54) of Eurythmics fame. The album is in the Fleetwood MacSheryl Crow pop-rock line, with Stewart adding a Rolling Stones groove. DioGuardi's a deep-voiced toughie—just Stewart's type—and she'll often end tracks with gospel-based fireworks, shouting and vamping over the background vocals. The results are respectable enough and occasionally wonderful, but have much less character than you get from the small-voiced, electronically enhanced Lindsays and Parises. Lyrics tend from the audaciously good ("Your promised land doesn't stand/Can't hold back the avalanche") to the inexplicably terrible ("Have you thrown a wish into the ocean/And watched it slowly float away"), but they don't jell. You have imagery with no story to connect to, so you end up with floating platitudes. What Kara needs is her own Kara DioGuardi, someone to do for her what she did for Lindsay: draw her out and find a way to make her words and sounds into her words and sounds.

 
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