2007 was such an interesting year. I graduated high school, Britney Spears shaved her head while running around Los Angeles barefoot, the world had just met Miley Cyrus, and then, of course, Kelly Clarkson’s long awaited third album debuted.
My December was going to be everything that Breakaway wasn’t—stripped down, introspective, and completely written by Clarkson herself. The album was announced for a late summer release, which would be followed by a massive arena tour, the first for Clarkson.
Then, it all started to go awry. The album was pushed up after the lead single, “Never Again,” underperformed and then rumors started swirling that Sony-BMG head Clive Davis hated the album. Sources said that Davis wanted the album changed completely or even scrapped altogether. Clarkson eventually confirmed the rumors, even going as far as to say in an interview with Elle magazine, “I’ve sold more than 15 million records worldwide, and still nobody listens to what I have to say. I couldn’t give a crap about being a star. I’ve always just wanted to sing and write.” The Elle interview came on the heels of Clarkson canceling her arena tour, firing her management, and revealing that Davis offered her money to cover a song from Lindsay Lohan’s last album.
The spat between Clarkson and her label seemed to fizzle out after Clarkson released a statement that it had been blown out of proportion and embarked on a smaller venue tour to support My December.
However, with the release of Clive’s new memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life, it seems these old wounds have yet to heal. In doing press for the memoir, it was mentioned that Davis and Clarkson’s dispute is addressed. Clarkson took to Whosay.com to issue a rebuttal to what was mentioned in the book:
So I just heard Clive Davis is releasing a memoir and spreading false information about me and my music. I refuse to be bullied and I just have to clear up his memory lapses and misinformation for myself and for my fans. It feels like a violation. Growing up is awesome because you learn you don’t have to cower to anyone – even Clive Davis.
First, he says I burst into “hysterical sobbing” in his office when he demanded Since You Been Gone be on my album. Not true at all. His stories and songs are mixed up. I did want more guitars added to the original demo and Clive did not. Max, Luke and I still fought for the bigger sound and we prevailed and I couldn’t be more proud of the life of that song. I resent him dampening that song in any way.
But, yes, I did cry in his office once. I cried after I played him a song I had written about my life called “Because Of You.” I cried because he hated it and told me verbatim that I was a “sh*tty writer who should be grateful for the gifts that he bestows upon me.” He continued on about how the song didn’t rhyme and how I should just shut up and sing. This was devastating coming from a man who I, as a young girl, considered a musical hero and was so honored to work with.
But I continued to fight for the song and the label relented. And it became a worldwide hit. He didn’t include that in the book.
He also goes on to say My December wasn’t successful because I co-penned the album and it didn’t have “pop hits”. Well, first let me say, I’ve co-penned many of my “pop hits.” Secondly, My December went platinum (It sold 20,000 less than All I Ever Wanted which followed My December.) Hardly a huge failure. Never Again, the ONLY single they released in the US from that record was a Top 10 hit. I am very proud of that and I have my fans to thank. But, again, what’s most interesting about his story is what he leaves out: He doesn’t mention how he stood up in front of his company at a convention and belittled me and my music and completely sabotaged the entire project. It never had a chance to reach it’s full potential. My December was an album I needed to make for myself for many reasons and the fact that I was so completely disregarded and disrespected was so disheartening, there really aren’t words to explain….
Anyway, I love my job. I love my music. I love my fans. I love my label and all of my professional relationships… now. And I am grateful for Clive for teaching me to know the difference.
Cheers to another amazing year! And, as always, thanks for listening!
This was interesting because I never heard anything about “Since U Been Gone.” I was always under the impression that their fight started with My December. Yet, It does raise an eyebrow that Davis didn’t like what would end up as the most popular song from that era.
Not one to back down from a fight, Clive offered his own response:
As anyone who has read The Soundtrack of My Life knows, I think Kelly Clarkson is a tremendous vocal talent and performer. In the book, I provide an in-depth look at our years together during which we shared major multi-platinum success, as well as a few creative differences. I am truly very sorry that she has decided to take issue with what I know to be an accurate depiction of our time together. Before the book was published, I had every fact checked with five independent individuals who were present on a daily basis throughout it all. The chapter as it is written was thoroughly verified by each and every one of them. I stand by the chapter as written in my book. At the same time I wish, and will always wish, Kelly’s talent and her career to soar to ever new heights.
As a Kelly fan, I’m torn. I loved My December but after her success with Breakaway, which was total Max Martin/saccharine pop, I understand Clive’s hesitation to release an album that had as little pop appeal as My December did. I tend to forget that at the end of the day, music is still a business. If it wasn’t, my dream of LiLo releasing more music would finally come to fruition.
Ultimately, I have to choose Kelly’s side in this. There are plenty of stories of pop stars who choose to forego all artistic autonomy once they’re given the opportunity to become famous (I’m looking at you, Katy Perry). Kelly has never been that kind of artist. I have an incredibly amount of respect for someone who is willing to consistently stand up for herself against one of the most powerful people in the music industry. If anything, she’s the one that has the most to lose by addressing what’s in his book. I’m glad she isn’t backing down and I’m glad that I have another celebrity feud to occupy my time for now.