Sections from Clive Davis‘ biography that will be available soon was released this week. In it, the 80-year-old record executive often credited with starting the careers of singers like Whitney Houston, revealed himself to be bi-sexual and that he has been in several same-sex relationships over the past several decades. While that garnered some attention earlier in the week, it was his mention of Kelly Clarkson that seemed to get the most attention. In the part about Kelly, he claims she broke into “hysterical sobbing” over the song Since U Been Gone and goes on to mention other disagreements they’ve had over other songs and their inclusion on her albums.
Kelly Clarkson (photo from abcnews.com)
Kelly quickly replied in a letter that has gotten tons of support from all over the entertainment world through Twitter and social media. She starts her letter with: “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.” She also admits she cried in his office but that was over her song Because Of You, “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.’” She finally ends it with reference to her album My December that Davis apparently said it didn’t “have any pop hits.”
It has been long suspected that My December flopped at the hands of Clive Davis and this situation has brought that speculation back, with near confirmation. That album, the followup to Kelly’s hugely successful Breakaway, flopped almost immediately after the single Never Again failed to materialize into a hit. For as long as I’ve been following music, I have never seen an album and its single(s) do as poorly following something as successful as Breakaway from an artist as big as Kelly before. It was unprecedented that promotion for the record wrapped up just weeks after its release. Something had to have been going on under the scenes.
My December album cover
It was known that Davis wasn’t happy with the album and that he pulled promotion for it right away. I also recently read that apparently, radio PDs were ordered from the label not to play the album’s planned second single Sober. No video was ever made for it and it never became a hit. So it seems that Kelly’s first attempt at making a record that truly reflected her growing skills as a writer was sabotaged by someone who previously had more control over her career. The album itself, while not as poppy as her previous ones (or the ones since), still had a fair share of potential hits on there. Despite that, My December still sold nearly a million copies in the US, only very slightly less than her next album All I Ever Wanted (which had 3 successful singles, I might add). Kelly’s numbers state that All I Never Wanted sold about 20,000 more than My December.
Ever since then, Kelly’s records have been mediocre (Stronger album review) though I’ve always felt that she has so much more to offer than the material she is given to record. Her letter renews my faith in her as a person and an artist, and the music business as a whole because she has stood up against someone who was perceived as being a respected and powerful force in the industry and is getting tons of support from others because of it. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Kelly’s music per se but as a person, I definitely am. Her response is inspiring and hopefully it continues the trend for musicians to move away from the heavy hands of single individuals and brings to light more transparency in instances where entire careers are sabotaged because of the lack of vision of just one person.