Meet the new Kelly Clarkson, same as the old Kelly Clarkson. To that we say, "Welcome back, girl! We missed you!"


"My Life Would Suck Without You," out today just in time for the season premiere of "American Idol," catapults into the pop atmosphere immediately, propelled by a very catchy, driving beat. Think "Since U Been Gone," but slightly more dance pop than pop rock.


The lyrics are just as unpoetic as the song's title and just as resigned. Girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, girl picks fights with boy, boy tells girl he wants anyone but her, but boy and girl reunite for the most unromantic of reasons: their dysfunctions are compatible. She and co-writers, Max Martin and Dr. Luke, even managed to work the word "dysfunctional" into the lyrics. If they'd found something to rhyme with it, then I would have really been impressed. Martin and Dr. Luke, by the way, also wrote "Since U Been Gone."
Instead of the love lyrics of yore with flowers, hearts and cupids, we can see lovers around the globe romancing each other with these modern lyrics from the song: "I know that I have issues, but you're pretty messed up too. Either way I found out, I'm nothing without you." Basically, neither one of them is okay, so at least they can share that as they travel down life's road together and at least share the same Prozac prescription. Musically, it's all about the repetitive beat as opposed to any memorable or inventive melody. Given how beat-driven pop radio is these days, that's a smart move.


"My Life Would Suck Without You" is the first single from Clarkson's March 17 album, "All I Ever Wanted," and is the start of her climb out of the hole she dug for herself with 2007's "My December." On that, her third album, she very publicly feuded with then-RCA label head Clive Davis, over her decision to make the rock album she wanted to, radio and fans be damned. Clarkson seems very willing-eager, in fact, to kiss and make up. And the bright red lipstick she sports on the single cover, plus the heart-shaped lollipop, makes us think she really, really wants us back.