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Kelly Clarkson’s My December – The Talented Alternative to Formulaic Medocrity

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Remember the days when an artist could speak their mind and have full creative control over their projects? When the creatures of the shallow aesthetic, otherwise known as the media, weren't waiting in the shadows for the opportunity to exploit irrelevant insecurities which are mere projections of their own low self esteem?

Yeah me either.

Kelly Clarkson's newest creation, My December, has pretty much gone over the heads of most in the press. You can't really blame them though considering they are conditioned like animals to follow patterns, and combined with a false ego that whispers in their ears that what they say is actually of substance. What you get is reviews like Kelly has had recently.

You can't teach people to think out of the box on their own; you can only hope they will catch on when presented with a scenario that deviates from the same tired formula. Unfortunately, reviewers in music today are more concerned about perks from the highest bidder than presenting an objective, intelligent, thorough review of an album. The reviews of My December were as simple as, "It's so depressing"… Thank you Captain Obvious, welcome to reality, hope you enjoy your stay.

Love and life ain't always roses and Mentos. In fact, a lot of the time it's like getting flaming paperclips shot into your exposed heart. You would move out of the way if you weren't wearing contacts marinated in Clorox, and you would run if you weren't being kicked in the jittles by pissed off chimpanzees wearing steel toe boots. But that's the beauty of life, that's why we need honest music, and artists that take chances. Indeed Kelly did take a chance with her new album, took a stand against the standard formula, and produced one of the best albums in a long time.

Unfortunately, that very brilliance is also the problem, an independent approach to a mainstream industry. Was it too soon for her to take on a project of her own? A project where she wrote all of the songs? There would never be a right time for her to do a project on her own while she was tied to an Empire. Her vision is music, their vision is revenue. Those two visions are always going to clash in the entertainment industry which is why you have formulaic drones being mass produced every day.

What happens when you try to voice your opinion, and take some artistic direction, is evident by the lack of support by her label, the passive aggressive actions of the American Idol benefit, and the press that are the Storm Troopers of the Empire, all warm and cozy nestled in their pockets. It's a hard lesson passed down, but the courage of Kelly to stick to her vision from beginning to end, regardless of the scrutiny, is admirable whether you are a fan or not. It's called Artistic Integrity, and it is rare, it is necessary.

What if it was a guy in this situation? Would it be such a big deal? I doubt that it would, and she certainly wouldn't get cutting reviews making fun of her supposed weight problem. What the hell does that have to do with her talent and where her music is headed? Not a damn thing, and, in fact, most of the reviews written about her weight are by men, which is very symbolic of the industry that she is involved in. She must adhere to an unrealistic standard of what is perceived, by men, as beautiful. Magazines like Cosmo, Elle, etc. perpetuate the cycle by providing these images as something to aspire to, rather than accept and admire who you are.

Reality check, a magazine that weighs 25 pounds, that has 10 pages of content, and 490 pages of products showing you how to cover up yourself is not a magazine after your true interest. Catering to people's insecurities is a manipulation, it's a marketing scheme, and it works. Why? Because it is unrealistic, the majority will never look like that, but they'll spend ass loads of money trying to get there, and that is the point. "Buy this foundation and you will look like a star!"

No, buy that foundation and you'll look like a woman with foundation on. Photoshop will make you look like a star. But don't speak out against it, oh no. Don't remind people that it is all an illusion, or you'll get burned at the stake just as Kelly was during this whole drama. Well Kelly, it was a great effort, but apparently you're not allowed out of the kitchen yet, throw on that apron you have muffins to make.

No matter how she is labeled, judged, scrutinized, disregarded, no one can take away the fact she carried out her vision. She showed yet again how real she is, how raw natural emotions are, and how accessible to those with a heart her music remains to be. Her album is a true testament to her rare talent, and the fact she is a damn good song writer. I appreciate the effort as a music lover, and as someone who thinks outside of the box. Above all Kelly reminds everyone that she is human and has her own voice. Presented with an undeniable elegance, driven by her own thirst to test her limits, and above all rooted in a foundation of humility and respect for those that have come before her, and those that support her… her family and her fans.

She has won tons of awards, and I'm sure will continue to do so. Which is all good if you're into that sort of thing, but it is her natural ability to absorb music for its complete texture, her genuine talent and heart that validates her place as a future legend. The critics will continue to grasp at straws, and there will always be someone to hold under the fire. The funny thing is, when she sings live, everyone shuts up, including the critics. It's also funny how they never seem to criticize her talent which is what its about right? She is a singer am I wrong?

Peace…

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About John C

  • toxictwin

    Peace to you too John C. Comedy! Great article.

  • Rene

    Awesome read John!

  • Jt

    dead on…she is a rare talent and has been unfairly scrutinized. Love the album and I can’t wait to see some new music videos from her.

  • A Concerned Citizen

    Not being a fanboy of Clarkson (although I think she’s good, don’t get me wrong), I’m unaware of the criticisms being levied against her. You never really explained exactly what they were in the article. Also, you never really explained why you think she’s such a massive songwriting talent.

    No matter how she is labeled, judged, scrutinized, disregarded, no one can take away the fact she carried out her vision

    OK, so what exactly are they criticizing her about? What exactly was her vision? How did it differ from other mainstream artists?

    Why do you consider her so brilliant / revolutionary?

  • daryl d

    Excellent article. I am so sick of the way the music industry has turned out. I bet you if Kelly changed her name to “U2″ the album would not only receive incredible reviews, but win grammy awards as well. The few people who really run the record industry don’t want Kelly to be a serious artist. They would rather her turn out decent pop fluff like she did on her last album. They are the ones who tell music critics what to write, so it’s going to get bad reviews no matter what. I was really impressed with My December, but then again, I was impressed with Kelly’s last effort as well.

  • Sue

    THANK YOU! Love the album, best one so far!

  • dave

    i agree with you. what sickens me is the double standard… the number 1 song right now is by Sean Kingston, a man who is on most standard, heavier. However, he is not getting any criticsm for being a big fellow. Meanwhile, kelly gains 5 pounds and is called horrible names.

  • Gina

    I love her new album. The songs get me right in the heart and so does her voice.

  • http://www.johncweb.com John C Comedy

    Had to respond to this comment, it just proves my point even further…Peace John C

    “Not being a fanboy of Clarkson (although I think she’s good, don’t get me wrong), I’m unaware of the criticisms being levied against her. You never really explained exactly what they were in the article. Also, you never really explained why you think she’s such a massive songwriting talent.”

    A fanboy? What are you implying? My name is John nice to meet you.

    I gave specifics of recent situations, re-read. I also gave specifics into why she is a great artist starting with her honesty and willingness to take chances. If you want to experience it in further detail, buy the album.

    “OK, so what exactly are they criticizing her about? What exactly was her vision? How did it differ from other mainstream artists?”

    Again, re-read the article. The critics that have launched unfair judgement against her do not deserve to be mentioned. They also didn’t go into specifics as to why her album was unacceptable to their tone deaf ears, I met them with the same amount of effort. If they actually listened to the album I would have considered a more formal reply.

    Other mainstream artists were not the focus of the article, nor was it to give further exposure to those that cast ignorant judgement from the start. i.e. “fanboy” A fan is a fan, why bring gender into it?

    “Why do you consider her so brilliant / revolutionary?”

    Because of how she looks in Capri Pants…Is that better?

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    In other words, John, you’re just running the bases here. Caliming that critics didn’t go ino specifics, without citing evidence to that effect, does not excuse uou from your responsibility to make your argument with evidence.
    You didn’t do that. Not even close.

  • http://www.myspace.com/krazygemini1980 Philip

    I must say i really enjoyed your blog. I am a huge Kelly Clarkson Fan, Her LACK of Diva-ness makes her so loveable and Yes her voice is amazing on so many levels.. She rocks. I remember when she won on American Idol, that is when i was first taken by her voice. Since then I have listened to “Thankful” (which i wasnt big on until later), Once i heard the album “Breakaway” I was hooked~!! Now comes “my December” and the critics go over board, Why I asked? I Feel it was because of the whole Clive/Kelly head to head. Crazy as it sounds, now that Her and Clive have patched things up, The critics have less negativity to say about Kelly Clarkson. Why?? it is strange to me.. Too bad damage was done, the media and critics did some damage to “My December ” Before it was even leaked.. I have faith that once more hear how amazing “My December” is that they will have a change of heart!!

    Sincerely,

    Chicago’s #1 Kelly Clarkson Fan
    Philip Leodoro

  • http://www.johncweb.com John C Comedy

    “In other words, John, you’re just running the bases here. Caliming that critics didn’t go ino specifics, without citing evidence to that effect, does not excuse uou from your responsibility to make your argument with evidence.
    You didn’t do that. Not even close.”

    I gave evidence, in fact I referenced specific aspects of the criticism.

    Want a name? Roger Friedman and Fox News.

    P.S. Spellcheck

  • zingzing

    daryl d, on a u2 rant: “They [music industry execs] are the ones who tell music critics what to write…”

    oh yeah?

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    I re-read your article. You cited nothing. What you did do was go off on a rant about how Kelly Clarkson is the victim of that nebulous band of critics and the conspiracy of the music industry. In point of fact, she represents what is wrong with the music industry: a completely manufactured “star” who tanked.

    By the way, I never realized that FOX news was the last bastion of music criticism.

  • daryl d

    Ray, you just don’t understand, do you? If Clive Davis had claimed that this album was great, the album would have received great reviews. You are blind to think that there is nothing behind good or bad reviews.

    Zingzing:
    I don’t always bash U2. Please read my article about the year 1992.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    I’ve been doing this for over 25 years, daryl. I think its safe to say I’ve picked up a few insights about how the industry works. They don’t tell us what to write. If they did, I’d have had my Bentley a long time ago.

  • A Concerned Citizen

    “fanboy” is just a term and doesn’t have that much to do with gender. Read the sentence as “I’m just a casual listener” if it makes it more digestable.

    My problem isn’t with Clarkson, it’s with the way you wrote your article. All in all, you’ve given two clear cut criticisms:
    1)weight problems
    2)depressing album

    Your response to #1: real women aren’t models.
    Fair enough. She’s a singer, not a model. If she were a model, weight would be a valid criticism. She’s not, so weight’s not.

    Your response to #2: “You critics are SOOOOOO dumb and must know absolutely NOOOOOTHING about music!” OK. I can see how that’s an effective point. *sarcasm*

    The only real, valid defense you have of Clarkson is that she’s got enough guts to do her own thing. That IS admirable. But it doesn’t make her an amazing artist — all it means is that she has guts. I want you to explain why she is an amazing artist and apparently you can’t. On a musical level, why is she good? Because, I’ve got to tell you, I’ve not heard anything particularly unique from her at all. She’s a great singer, but a great songwriter? No.

    You just haven’t supported your arguments enough.

    Why do you consider her so brilliant / revolutionary?”

    Because of how she looks in Capri Pants…Is that better?

    I honestly believe you believe that. . .

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    Interesting, isn’t it? The more mediocre the article, the more thin-skinned the writer.

  • A Concerned Citizen

    Well Kelly, it was a great effort, but apparently you’re not allowed out of the kitchen yet, throw on that apron you have muffins to make.

    Obviously if anyone criticizes any female artist anywhere, they MUST be a chauvenist.

  • A Concerned Citizen

    Thanks for backing me up on this, Ray. My problem was with the article, not really Clarkson per se.

    I just didn’t feel like the author did anything but rant and rave, without a focused answer to any of the criticisms.

  • daryl d

    Ray, they don’t tell you what to write and it’s good that you keep your integrity. But there are others who don’t keep their integrity. There is a critic at Fox New who has been constantly outed for being “told what to write” and still has a job. It happens a lot more than you think.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    there is no such thing as a “Critic” at FOX news– it’s an oxymoron.

  • http://www.lookoutforhope.com Tom Johnson

    I have to agree with Daryl here. Much of the negativity to the new album is not based on the music but on the industry reaction to the album, which has filtered down to big gossip writers, then to the public, who has jumped on board the bandwagon, mostly because people love to hate whatever is the current thing to hate. These kinds of things can go either way – it just depends on how the wind blows. Sometimes it backfires and the album winds up selling huge, other times it works out the exact opposite. Either way, it works out well for the label, if not the artist – the label either gets a bunch of money from sales, or they have someone to punch around and laugh as they endure the humiliation for as long as they can. (Notice how Clarkson recently issued an apology to Clive Davis.) But industry ties to huge conglomerates like Clear Channel, who control most radio stations in most big cities, not to mention control the advertising on those stations, ensures that it’s pretty easy for someone like Clive to bury Clarkson if he wants to. All that needs to be done is force the stations to skimp on advertising a large tour so that it fails or, in the case of Clarkson, gets cancelled before it even starts. It doesn’t take much to do this, nor very obviously nefarious methods – they simply overcompensate on other tours and let the Clarkson one suffer a bit. Soon enough gossip lovers start saying that her tour isn’t selling and blame the “bad” album’s lack of sales for it, and soon music listeners are saying the same thing. Plenty of great albums have sunk and plenty of terrible albums have sailed based on this. Think it’s ridiculous paranoid claptrap? It’s no different than the payola scandal that Sony was behind in New York a couple years ago. Who is Kelly Clarkson’s label? Sony.

  • Greg

    Great article. Many of the “bad” things about the press regarding My December are merely people saying the same thing over and over.

    It’s great when we hear about how many people love the CD – and there are alot,including me.

    I love her voice, her songs are as good or better than many hitmakers ( There are hite there, they just have to release them! )

    Let Kelly be Kelly, and let that amazing versatile voice do the talking (and singing) for itself.

  • daryl d

    Oh my, Tom agrees with me on something. Well, I also have to specify when I say “critics.” It may not ALWAYS mean music critics, but these days, gossip columnists disguise themselves as critics, get linked to Drudge, and their “opinion” gets around more than an a legit music critic. The guy at Fox News bashed the album and in doing so, listed lyrics that NEVER existed.

  • http://www.johncweb.com John C Comedy

    Thank you ALL for the feedback.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    Our work here is done.

  • Jason Ikeler

    I think you may be the first reviewer to actually listen to album! Solid Review for the i.m.o. the best album of the year!

  • http://www.johncweb.com John C Comedy

    “Our work here is done.”

    What work have you done? Besides misinterpreting the direction of the article? Besides looking for a reason to interject a pompous attitude that stems from a, “I’ve been doing this for over 25 years”, jaded approach to others that have something to say. Who cares how long you have been doing whatever it is that you do, that doesn’t mean you are the be all end all voice in music. And it damn sure doesn’t mean that you are an expert in what my opinion is.

    The idea wasn’t to throw up a pie chart with matching Powerpoint Analysis of why an artist has proven herself, she has already done that. You want numbers, phone numbers, specific newspapers, specific people and what they said when?, go nuts, I’ll leave that to you. The reviews are out there but I’m not going name drop on my time.

    The article is meant to be in positive tone of an artist that is admired by everyone from Jeff Beck to Yo Yo Ma. because of her natural talent. The way she uses her register as an instrument as it should be. She has worked with almost every genre because she is just that versatile, THAT is an artist.

    The intention was to show that her album is a raw and honest approach in a sea of bubble gum pop clones. Do you see Britney, Ashley Simpson, Jessica Simpson, Fergie, Mariah Carey, etc. writing a song like Irvine, or Maybe, or Chivas for that matter? Or even back further, writing “Because of You” when they were 15 and having it be recognized with an ASCAP nod.

    It is also to show that the some of the overly harsh criticisms that were focused on issues completely irrelevant to her new album, were by people who are notorious for cut and paste journalism and overall false judgement. Most were recycled as said before, quite a few were not focused on her album but her weight. And they were written by men. That is chauvistic, period.

    You don’t have to agree with it, you don’t have to like it. But after 25 years, it may be time for you to walk outside, shake it off, take in some fresh air, it must be smothering in there from being closed for so long.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    Well, Comedy–and I’m assuming that’s not your real name–my work is done by mere virtue of the fact that you continue to slaver and drool, yet say nothing.

    “And it damn sure doesn’t mean that you are an expert in what my opinion is.”

    Of course not. Only you know what your opinion is. I only hope you find a way somewhere down the line to actually express it. Throwing out platitudes with nothing to back up your position isn’t a position. It’s just a bratty tantrum.

    “She has worked with almost every genre because she is just that versatile”

    Has she now? Quite an achievement, if it were true. It’s not.

    The intention was to show that her album is a raw and honest approach in a sea of bubble gum pop clones.”

    Raw and honest? How do you define raw and honest?
    Patti Smith and ChrissieHynde are raw and honest. Kelly Clarkson won a singing competition of dubious credibility.

    “It is also to show that the some of the overly harsh criticisms that were focused on issues completely irrelevant to her new album, were by people who are notorious for cut and paste journalism and overall false judgement. Most were recycled as said before, quite a few were not focused on her album but her weight. And they were written by men. That is chauvistic, period.”

    I think you are more focused on her weight than anybody else. Your comment above is not only chauvinistic, but assumptive. You’re a fan, obviously, and that’s fine. But you did her no service with that rant of an article. You did nothing to prove your point, and you certainly didn’t help her case.

    Just for future reference, if you write for publication, you ARE the media. Sleep on that, and come back when you actually have something to say.Because right now, my friend, you’re just blowing smoke.

  • rogelia rodriguez

    I just got her cd few weeks ago in is awesome good job kelly,love you,I hope to see you soon in concert(I love the song. CAN I HAVE A KISS

  • http://www.velvetrope.com pershing

    Thank you very much for this article-I work for RCA and a lot of us are very pissed about the way things turned out for this album. Clive is a scumbag plain and simple he may have been in the music industry for years but his methods are unethical. I can verify that Clive has actually hired a certain gossip columnist to be his mouthpiece. When I say “hired” I mean Clive is actually paying this guy, who already is under suspicion of being paid by Miramax Films (when Harvey Weinstein was the head) and Def Jam Records. After Kelly insulted Clive, he talked to the columnist and had him write a very negative piece on Kelly. You don’t believe me? Clive has also hired this columnist to do publicity for Whitney Houston’s next album and to hype it up. You’ll know what columnist I am talking about in a couple months and this is absolutley pathetic. Whitney’s album is coming along fine and there is no reason unethical stuff like this should happen. But I’m sure this goes on all the time. Feel free to ask me any questions: pershing28 at gmail Anybody from RCA who is trying to catch me, good luck. I’m posting from a wireless netwrk that isnt mine.

  • http://www.johncweb.com John C Comedy

    “Well, Comedy–and I’m assuming that’s not your real name–my work is done by mere virtue of the fact that you continue to slaver and drool, yet say nothing.”

    Lame. And childish

    “Of course not. Only you know what your opinion is. I only hope you find a way somewhere down the line to actually express it. Throwing out platitudes with nothing to back up your position isn’t a position. It’s just a bratty tantrum.”

    I expressed it fine, the issue is that you didn’t agree with it. I did back it up, you choose to hang on to semantics that you can exploit as not being up to par with your lack of knowledge of the subject to begin with.

    “Has she now? Quite an achievement, if it were true. It’s not.”

    LOL. Well there is a qualifying statement.

    “Raw and honest? How do you define raw and honest?
    Patti Smith and ChrissieHynde are raw and honest. Kelly Clarkson won a singing competition of dubious credibility.”

    Well there we have it. Your issue is with her association/starting point which was American Idol. So naturally she can’t be raw and honest. Defining raw and honest to you obviously is name dropping so that point went no where.

    “I think you are more focused on her weight than anybody else. Your comment above is not only chauvinistic, but assumptive. You’re a fan, obviously, and that’s fine. But you did her no service with that rant of an article. You did nothing to prove your point, and you certainly didn’t help her case.”

    Chauvinistic and assumptive. *Buzz* wrong, Thanks for playing, we have some nice parting gifts for you. Do the research man. Good God.

    “Just for future reference, if you write for publication, you ARE the media. Sleep on that, and come back when you actually have something to say.Because right now, my friend, you’re just blowing smoke. ”

    For future reference, I never sought your validation to express my opinion. I am a writer that spoke his mind, it didn’t sit well with you…Thats on you. I can’t help that you are still stuck in your very basic judgement of a show from 5 years ago. When you stop whining you’ll realize that things have changed since then.

    In conclusion your issue is not with Kelly Clarkson, it is with American Idol. THAT is assumptive, THAT is blowing smoke for the simple need to be antagonistic. So when you are up to speed, and have actually listened to her album, then we’ll talk again. Sleep on that.

    Come back? You came to me…With nothing.

  • abc

    Most (not all) actual music critics I have read gave her album fairly positive reviews. It is the gossip rags and tabloids that have propelled most of the negative comments.

  • http://www.johncweb.com John C Comedy

    “Most (not all) actual music critics I have read gave her album fairly positive reviews. It is the gossip rags and tabloids that have propelled most of the negative comments.”

    Agreed. Unfortunately it is a grey area in entertainment media, and what gets the most press is negativity, so the normal “go to” magazines for music knowledge take a backseat to sensationalism. Kind of where things are across the board at the moment.

  • I am the media

    “I re-read your article. You cited nothing. What you did do was go off on a rant about how Kelly “Clarkson is the victim of that nebulous band of critics and the conspiracy of the music industry. In point of fact, she represents what is wrong with the music industry: a completely manufactured “star” who tanked.”

    Way to cite references and back up your opinion with evidence Raaaaay. Thanks for explaining what makes a person a “manufactured” star. Oh wait, you didn’t. And thanks for explaining what exactly qualifies an artistic work as having “tanked” after a month in release. Oh wait, you didn’t.

    “I’ve been doing this for over 25 years, daryl. I think its safe to say I’ve picked up a few insights about how the industry works. They don’t tell us what to write. If they did, I’d have had my Bentley a long time ago.”

    Wow, you’ve had an opinon for 25 years. Congratulations. If you’re going to suggest that there aren’t any critics who get incentives to spin their articles you either take eveyone for a fool or you’ve been a fool for the last 25 years.

    “Interesting, isn’t it? The more mediocre the article, the more thin-skinned the writer.”

    Actually, what is interesting is that critics often write reviews which give no real insight into why they formed their opinions, show no knowledge beyond a typical music fan and interject personal comments which have no relevence to the work being reviewed. What is even more interesting is that when Joe Public gets a platform and dares to criticize the media, we get some nerve-pinched media jockey coming out of the woodwork to posture about about his “25 years” of experience and whine for evidence. Who cares if you’ve been “doing this” for 25 years? You have not proved yourself to have any superiority. You’re old. So? You can form a complete sentence. So?

    People in the business of being a critic love to have a platform to cram their personal bias down the public’s throat. Thank God for the internet and the advent of the blog where people who aren’t paid for their opinions and don’t worry about circulation or webhits can have a voice and speak honestly. Anyone with an ounce of knowlege on how the media operates is well aware of the tricks of wrapping a fact in editorialized comments or the slice and dice tactic used on interview comments to spin a story that supports the writer’s personal bias. If anyone believes the media is about honesty, integrity and objectivity then you might as well believe politicians don’t like power and lawyers hate money.

    “Our work here is done.”

    I’m sure you’ve puffed your chest up to maximum pressure. Good job.

    “my work is done by mere virtue of the fact that you continue to slaver and drool, yet say nothing.”

    Oh, weren’t you done before? Are you done being done now?

    “Of course not. Only you know what your opinion is. I only hope you find a way somewhere down the line to actually express it. Throwing out platitudes with nothing to back up your position isn’t a position. It’s just a bratty tantrum.”

    He’s backed up his statements better than you have. But you apparently know all about tantrums. * Pats Ray on the head. ”

    “She has worked with almost every genre because she is just that versatile”

    ‘Has she now? Quite an achievement, if it were true. It’s not.’

    Once again. Thanks for your INVALUABLE opinion Ray. You say nothing while telling others they are saying nothing SO well! Way to prove that it’s actually the critic who wants to state opinions as matter of fact and back up those opinions with absolutely no supporting statements. You’re doing exactly what you’re accusing John C Comedy of doing. But hypocricy seems to be an inherent character trait of the common critic.

    “Raw and honest? How do you define raw and honest? Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde are raw and honest. Kelly Clarkson won a singing competition of dubious credibility.”

    You’re so smart Ray. Just throw out a name and attach a couple of adjectives. Daffy Duck and Ronald McDonald are raw and honest. Why? Because I just said so. Wow. I can be a critic just like Ray. Judging by your display on this blog I’d say your credibility gets the big D for dubious. I wonder which singing competitions aren’t of “dubious credibility”. Come on, list them all out for us Raaaay. Oh but you can’t, darn it, because you’re DONE.

    “I think you are more focused on her weight than anybody else. Your comment above is not only chauvinistic, but assumptive. You’re a fan, obviously, and that’s fine. But you did her no service with that rant of an article. You did nothing to prove your point, and you certainly didn’t help her case.”

    First, addressing the topic of weight is entirely appropriate since that is an issue some critics find necessary to address when reviewing an album. You’re clearly ignorant on the disparity of how the media addresses the body images of female artists. Or rather how body image is rarely considered an obstacle for a male artist, while it seems an endless point of discussion for a female artist.

    If he didn’t prove his point about critics then you’ve done a good job of supporting his viewpoint about the media with your sniping. You can’t even give an “objective, intelligent, thorough review” of his opinion piece so one has to wonder how many of your own writings contain such knee-jerk reactions as you’ve posted here.

    “Just for future reference, if you write for publication, you ARE the media. Sleep on that, and come back when you actually have something to say.Because right now, my friend, you’re just blowing smoke. ”

    Oh so when someone writes an editorial for a newspaper they ARE the media. And when someone writes an opinion piece on a blog they ARE the media. Hey, my comments are getting published here. I AM THE MEDIA! Cool. Now that I am one of you I have to say that for the betterment of our profession we are in desperate need of some quality control because… We suck. Hard. I cite my journalist friend Ray Ellis and his unsupported opinions here as my evidence. His smoke also stings my eyes. Boo.

  • Brian

    My general take after reading your piece is that you’re a fan of Kelly’s that takes offense to the fact that there have been a number of negative reviews written in regards to this album. So, your response is to attack those that have written these things. I guess that’s a viable avenue to take but there’s some serious holes in what you’ve written.

    Up front, I’ll say that I’ve gone back and reviewed a number of negative reviews of this album. Each of them comes from major media outlets (Rolling Stone, NY Times, NY Post, Washington Post, Newsday and All Music). None of these reviews mention a single word about Kelly’s weight or her appearance but each does explain why they didn’t care for the album. So, while there may have been some lesser writers out there writing overly simplistic reviews that focus on her weight, that’s not the case when you examine the reviews from major outlets.

    Also, you make the case that the label didn’t support get any support from the label. I’d be interested in hearing what more the label was supposed to do. She was booked for a number of TV appearances, she was featured in numerous publications, there was a video released and “Never Again” was sent out to radio. It’s not really RCA’s fault that interest in the song faded and it began falling back on the chart. I think it’s easy to blame the label but tell me what they could have done more. It would especially interest me to hear your comments, since you make the case in the paragraph before that one that labels are focused on money. Yes, they’re a business and turning a profit is key to survival, so, what reasoning would they have for not fully promoting an album that cost them millions?

    And, finally, you’re correct that no one is complaining about her voice. In fact, most reviews tend to point out how talented she is as a vocalist. The reviewers I’ve read have made more of an issue of the fact that her songwriting isn’t that strong. I know that some of the reviewers that wrote negative comments about this album were supportive of Breakaway. So, it’s nothing against Kelly, it’s just that she made a weak album. Looking at the dropping album sales, looks like audiences are finding the same thing out.

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    Note to “I Am the Media.”

    Going incognito is cool and all, but if you don’t alter the style, and make the same punctuation mistakes as earlier post, the secret identity doesn’t work.

  • A Concerned Citizen

    John, I noticed you never responded to my post. . .

    Also, are you having an identity crisis? I highly suspect “I am the media” is you supporting yourself under a pseudonym. Which is hilarious, BTW.

    Brian, excellent post. Easily the best one on this thread.

  • A Sort-Of Concerned Citizen

    A Concerned Citizen

    You’re so wise. . . like Buddha, or Jack Handey. I can only aspire to your greatness.

    Sincerely,
    A Concerned Cit — I mean, A Sort-Of Concerned Citizen xxoxoxo

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    “Anyone with an ounce of knowlege on how the media operates is well aware of the tricks of wrapping a fact in editorialized comments or the slice and dice tactic used on interview comments to spin a story that supports the writer’s personal bias. If anyone believes the media is about honesty, integrity and objectivity then you might as well believe politicians don’t like power and lawyers hate money.”

    Let’s assume that’s true. It makes John C’s bio blurb meaningless. One has to assume that the LA Times must have been paid off to write favorable things about him, since critics are all money-grabbing whores.

  • Amy

    You’re so right! I found Kelly’s latest album to be amazing. I hate when the critics label it as depressing. Obviously life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. A lot of this album is devoted to breakups. It makes sense that some anger would be involved. What it all comes down to is the fact that Kelly is one of the most talented singers and songwriters out there today. She rocks and that’s all there is to it. So thank you for writing such a good blog about it!

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    And getting pissed off about a breakup is the stuff of raw honesty.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    For what it’s worth, I can confirm that the comments from Mr Comedy and “I am the media” are not coming from the same IP address.

  • I am the media

    “Note to “I Am the Media.”

    Going incognito is cool and all, but if you don’t alter the style, and make the same punctuation mistakes as earlier post, the secret identity doesn’t work.”

    Note to Raaay. I see that you are still DONE. Working on getting that last word in after you’ve proclaimed your triumph, huh? So predictable. And sorry dear Raaaay, but I am the media. I am not John C Comedy. Not even the same gender unless we have us a woman posting as John. Where is your EVIDENCE of your “brilliant” conclusion???? Thanks for proving to me that I was right about you. Oh boo hoo. More than one person disagrees with you and can write in sarcastic tones.

    “Also, are you having an identity crisis? I highly suspect “I am the media” is you supporting yourself under a pseudonym. Which is hilarious, BTW. ”

    I highly suspect you and Raaay Ellis suspect a lot things that aren’t true. Oh no! You and Ray agree with each other, post similar commnents, came to the same false conclusions and posted within 5 minutes of each other. Ah ha! You must be the same person! Caught you!

    “Let’s assume that’s true. It makes John C’s bio blurb meaningless. One has to assume that the LA Times must have been paid off to write favorable things about him, since critics are all money-grabbing whores.”

    YES!!!! Exactly, Ray. You’ve figured it out! The notion that a critic can be bought = all critics are money-grubbing whores. Your brilliance is in full display once again. Oh and still not DONE, huh?

  • I am the media

    “And getting pissed off about a breakup is the stuff of raw honesty.”

    “Irvine” is actually the stuff of great raw honesty. But that’s not possible since she won a “dubious” singing competition, right Raaay? Casting aspersions because of how the artist came to prominence is the stuff of great “honest” reviewers I am sure. Your bias is so very clear.

    I guess you’ve given up on being DONE. Now you must do battle to prove the media doesn’t deseve such harsh criticism. I know it hurts to be cwetesized Ray. Maybe you can write a pissed off article about it. *sniff*.

  • mickey

    I cannot imagine in this day and age gushing over an album like this…..there are so many great cds being produced but looked over…kelly is lucky she’ll move units, but if you want raw and honest..look at Neko Case, Keren Ann, Cat Power, Nina Nastasia etc…those are women…not whinging girly pop.

    gotta run to listen to the Fiery Furnaces…another brilliant cd in record time….

  • http://culturesalad.blogspot.com Ray Ellis

    Media- I never said you and Comedy are one and the same. However, you both live in the Bay area. Connect the dots any way you like.

  • I am the media

    “Also, you make the case that the label didn’t support get any support from the label. I’d be interested in hearing what more the label was supposed to do. She was booked for a number of TV appearances, she was featured in numerous publications, there was a video released and “Never Again” was sent out to radio. It’s not really RCA’s fault that interest in the song faded and it began falling back on the chart. I think it’s easy to blame the label but tell me what they could have done more. It would especially interest me to hear your comments, since you make the case in the paragraph before that one that labels are focused on money. Yes, they’re a business and turning a profit is key to survival, so, what reasoning would they have for not fully promoting an album that cost them millions?”

    While we do have our very own Ray Ellis telling us that Kelly tanked is that really the case? How many artists who are closing in on 600,000 US sales and 1,000,000 worldwide sales after a month in release are considerened to have tanked? “My December” is outpacing more than 50% of the current Top 200. However, “My December” is going to be labeled a flop because of expectation, not the reality of the numbers. Most any other artist would gladly accept Kelly’s current sales stats for My December and consider it a qualified success. I tend to think that Kelly would also consider My December a success in that she made the album she wanted to make and actually got it released without the label calling in Swedish song-doctors to give us 12 versions of “Since U Been Gone” ripoffs.

    I think the album did quite well during the time she was receiving promotion. However, RCA is putting no more funds into promotion for the album. So there was one single released from the album which has sold 700,000+ in digital downloads. The song consistently pulled in good scores from research polling such as rate the music and promosquad. Off of one single the album moved over half a million units in the US. But there is no second single receiving support from the label. What other artist in this current position would have promotion shut down so quickly by their label? Rhianna released her album two weeks prior to Kelly’s new release. She has undersold “My December” yet is still receiving a push from her label and radio.

    I think people want to turn a blind eye to the politics involved and pretend that egos of the powerful can’t bring down empires. Labels seem more intent on fighting the future rather than embracing new technolgy. Their sloth-like foray into digital downloads is a testament to their ability to shoot themselves in the foot. If you think a man like Clive Davis wouldn’t take steps to crush an upstart who defied his “advice” then you live in a dreamworld. Anyone who has even heard one speech by Mr. Clive Davis knows that the man loves the sound of his own voice more than any melody. The problem isn’t that My December isn’t mainstream. The problem isn’t that the album is too negative (Breakaway only had two happy songs on it.). The problem isn’t that the music isn’t worthy of a push on Top 40 or that the interest in the artist isn’t there. The problem is that Clive Davis is on record as having dismissed the album before it was out of the gate and he can’t allow Kelly the opportunity to prove he is wrong by giving her proper support.

    I don’t think you can defend Clive Davis going on the finale of the most watched show in the world (American Idol) and prasing works by Idol contestants that have flatlined while failing even one word of support for Kelly’s current single at the time or her soon to be released album, My December. Clive Davis praised songwriters who have written for Kelly but failed to give her one ounce of credit for writing on most of her radio hits. In particular, neither he nor RCA congratulated her in any form for her writing of “Because of You” (her most successful song) for which she received song of the year writing honors from ASCAP. Clive Davis has an agenda in conflict with supporting one of his biggest selling artists of the last few years. If he doesn’t have a conflicting agenda then he has outstayed his usefulness and needs to get the boot for incompetence. Labels heads are supposed to be in the business are promoting their artists, not generating negative publicity by allowing the press to cliam repeatedly that he hates the album. One public statement of support from him is all it would have taken to turn the tide, but he couldn’t manage five minutes to offer his support.

    To say the decline in sales of My December and the brick wall that Never Again hit at radio is a qualified reflection of the public’s judgement also ignores the benefit of radio promotion for continuing sales and the incestuous relationship between labels and radio in determing what song will be played. The program director for Z100 recently served as master of ceremonies for Clive’s recent “visionary” award for God’s sake. Why do major label artists dominate to the point that their excessive spin totals eventually make listeners want to vomit if they here the song one more time? Why don’t indie acts get played? Because the major labels dictate and make deals through various means to determine what radio will play. Listener requests/interest is one tiny piece of the equation.

    Radio play generates sales. Kelly isn’t currently getting support at radio by her label. She isn’t getting a second single pushed to radio. This is all about lack of support from the label, not lack of a worthy single on My December.

    “And, finally, you’re correct that no one is complaining about her voice. In fact, most reviews tend to point out how talented she is as a vocalist. The reviewers I’ve read have made more of an issue of the fact that her songwriting isn’t that strong. I know that some of the reviewers that wrote negative comments about this album were supportive of Breakaway. So, it’s nothing against Kelly, it’s just that she made a weak album. Looking at the dropping album sales, looks like audiences are finding the same thing out.”

    Actually some of these reviewers only became supportive of Breakaway after the album sold well. You will find that Rolling Stone, in particular, proclaimed that the album Breakaway had “no legs”. This was in the second week of release in 2004. Over ten million units later what do they have to say about those legs? The reviews for Breakaway on the whole were no better than the reviews for My December. You get some good ones. You get some bad ones. You have some critics who write thoughtfully and some who couldn’t care less about giving a fair listen or an honest review.

    As for her songwriting not being that strong I have to disagree. Is it profoud and world changing? No, but it is certainly as strong or stronger than what you will hear on radio today. Clive Davis proclaimed that Avril Lavigne’s album is the best music he has heard all year. So this golden-eared old man is telling us that “Hey hey you you I don’t like your girlfriend. Hey Hey you you I think you need a knew one” has his full support and is worthy of 9000 spins a week on radio. Alrighty then.

  • I am the media

    “Media- I never said you and Comedy are one and the same. However, you both live in the Bay area. Connect the dots any way you like.”

    Uh no, Raaaay. I live in the Southeast. Ask me something about grits, sweet tea, fried food and heart disease.

    This dot: Ray doesn’t know what he is talking about.

    Connects to this dot: Ray pretends to have knowledge he doesn’t possess.

    I would expect more from a man who has been “doing this” for 25 years.

  • Brian

    “Remember the days when an artist could speak their mind and have full creative control over their projects?”

    There are artists today speaking their mind and maintaining full creative control. One example would be Ani DiFranco. She’s been making albums at the rate she wants and with the content she wants to present for years. Then again, she maintains control because she has elected to fund her own projects.

    People can rail against the labels and how they stick their nose into the creative process but the reality is that they’re footing the bill. Can you name any situation where investors just hand over money without any say in how it’s used? Labels are businesses with thousands of employees to consider and it’s certainly within reason that they want to make sure that an album they’re spending millions on recoups cost or better.

    I don’t mean to focus on Kelly but, since she’s the artist being discussed, let’s use her as an example. She was certainly free to record the albums she wanted to make on her own. With the advancement of technology, artists have found they can self-produce for very little money. After that, there are various ways to distribute the album that are outside the major label system. This isn’t what Kelly was after, apparently. She went to L.A. and auditioned for the various labels. To her credit, my understanding is that she turned down offers because they wanted to shape her in ways she didn’t agree with. Yet, then she turned around and signed on for AI. In her pursuit of a major label deal, she put herself into the position she had avoided originally.

    After her contract with RCA ends, it’ll be interesting to see what she elects to do. I’m not sure that she’ll resign with them but I’m also guessing she won’t strike out on her own and produce albums at her own expense. My guess is you’ll see her pop up at another major label claiming they have offered her so much more artistic freedom but it’ll be just a different version of the same thing. They’ll give her enough room but they’re still going to keep an eye on what she’s doing because they want to see a return on their investment.

  • Robert Finlay

    I love this article! I think it says a lot about the industry today and what artists who want their own direction (especially women) face and also the predicament Kelly has found herself facing. I do get that she is far from the worst off. There are so many artists struggling to get heard because of the shiny gold production of people like say Rihanna whose voice isn’t that great but constantly produce catchy beats thanks to far more talented record producers.

    I think Kelly did something heroic but at the same time not too smart. I think she faced so much opposition against doing it her way that she lost sight slightly of the larger picture. There is a fine line every artist has to walk that is, is the stuff I want to produce going to appeal all my fans (people who bought Breakaway and loved the catchy unforgetful tunes) and yet establish my credibility as an artist.

    I think Kelly went too far left. It doesn’t contain the same catchy tunes as her previous effort. Don’t get me wrong I love the album but I too am an open minded person when it comes to music.

    Although it is an album you may have to listen through a couple of times to love. It is a very personal album and I feel if you are a fan of Kelly you would buy it to appreciate her not only as an artist but as a person who has struggled through all the things she has. I saw Kelly live in Dublin and my god was I blown away. Nobody could ever deny her live. Ms. Clarkson has an incredible talent which I feel will be proved right in the long run through singles release and future projects regardless of her “skinny” girl image. One single flopping at radio happens to many artists.

    If only one is triumphant then radio will forgive and forget and she will go back to being America’s golden girl, loved all the more for her honesty and integrity.

  • Brian

    “While we do have our very own Ray Ellis telling us that Kelly tanked is that really the case? How many artists who are closing in on 600,000 US sales and 1,000,000 worldwide sales after a month in release are considerened to have tanked? “My December” is outpacing more than 50% of the current Top 200. However, “My December” is going to be labeled a flop because of expectation, not the reality of the numbers. Most any other artist would gladly accept Kelly’s current sales stats for My December and consider it a qualified success.”

    Yes, the nature of the music industry is to compare sales to an artist’s previous releases. The fact is that six million people, in the U.S. alone, have shown they’re willing to purchase a Kelly Clarkson album. So, it only stands to reason she should be able to do half of that on a follow-up. The numbers aren’t going that way, though.

    Her album is, as you point out, closing in on 600,000. In fairness, it’s likely to be a couple of weeks before she hits that goal. Looking at the numbers, she sold in excess of 291,000 copies the first week. Since then, she has seen her numbers drop every single week. Now, the album is in its sixth week and sales have fallen to just above 26,000. To give that number some perspective, neither of her first two albums dropped below 40,000 in the first twelve weeks.

    So, when someone says this album is “tanking,” part of that would be based on the fact it is underperforming against expectations for a multi-million selling artist and part would have to do with the fact that the album debuted decently but, in a month-and-a-half, has dropped to doing 10% of those numbers.

    “I tend to think that Kelly would also consider My December a success in that she made the album she wanted to make and actually got it released without the label calling in Swedish song-doctors to give us 12 versions of “Since U Been Gone” ripoffs.”

    I’m sure Kelly would consider her attempt to make a personal album a success. Her warm and fuzzy feelings, however, don’t do a lot to cover the millions of dollars invested in her album. She has said she’s got more than enough money to live on but does that mean the various employees at the label have to suffer because she wants to do things her way.

    “I think the album did quite well during the time she was receiving promotion. However, RCA is putting no more funds into promotion for the album. So there was one single released from the album which has sold 700,000+ in digital downloads. The song consistently pulled in good scores from research polling such as rate the music and promosquad. Off of one single the album moved over half a million units in the US. But there is no second single receiving support from the label. What other artist in this current position would have promotion shut down so quickly by their label? Rhianna released her album two weeks prior to Kelly’s new release. She has undersold “My December” yet is still receiving a push from her label and radio.”

    Once again, exactly what is it that you expect the label to be doing? There’s only so much a label can do. With that said, there’s a point when the label has to decide if it’s worth it to keep in investing in an album or whether they need to cut their losses and move on. No doubt, they’ll continue promoting the album to some degree because they want a return on their investment and they need to keep her name in the public eye until they can get the next album ready but spending more money to push it may be a bad way to use their limited resources.

    “I think people want to turn a blind eye to the politics involved and pretend that egos of the powerful can’t bring down empires. Labels seem more intent on fighting the future rather than embracing new technolgy. Their sloth-like foray into digital downloads is a testament to their ability to shoot themselves in the foot. If you think a man like Clive Davis wouldn’t take steps to crush an upstart who defied his “advice” then you live in a dreamworld. Anyone who has even heard one speech by Mr. Clive Davis knows that the man loves the sound of his own voice more than any melody. The problem isn’t that My December isn’t mainstream. The problem isn’t that the album is too negative (Breakaway only had two happy songs on it.). The problem isn’t that the music isn’t worthy of a push on Top 40 or that the interest in the artist isn’t there. The problem is that Clive Davis is on record as having dismissed the album before it was out of the gate and he can’t allow Kelly the opportunity to prove he is wrong by giving her proper support.”

    He’s also said that he wanted to see it do well because it was an important album for his label. To that degree, he apparently was very instrumental in getting it promoted early on. Once again, the guy has a business to run and I can’t see him intentionally hurting his business because he doesn’t want to look wrong. He’s dealt with strong artists through the years and this is nothing new. If he had wanted to, he could have scrapped the album or he could have forced her to change it. Instead, he gave her room to do what she wanted and see how that would go. Unfortunately, the album has seen negative reviews in various major publications and seen album sales drop after the initial core fans purchased their copies.

    “I don’t think you can defend Clive Davis going on the finale of the most watched show in the world (American Idol) and prasing works by Idol contestants that have flatlined while failing even one word of support for Kelly’s current single at the time or her soon to be released album, My December. Clive Davis praised songwriters who have written for Kelly but failed to give her one ounce of credit for writing on most of her radio hits. In particular, neither he nor RCA congratulated her in any form for her writing of “Because of You” (her most successful song) for which she received song of the year writing honors from ASCAP. Clive Davis has an agenda in conflict with supporting one of his biggest selling artists of the last few years. If he doesn’t have a conflicting agenda then he has outstayed his usefulness and needs to get the boot for incompetence. Labels heads are supposed to be in the business are promoting their artists, not generating negative publicity by allowing the press to cliam repeatedly that he hates the album. One public statement of support from him is all it would have taken to turn the tide, but he couldn’t manage five minutes to offer his support.”

    The one thing you have to give Clive is that he hasn’t publicly said anything negative about the album. His remarks were to a board meeting and they’ve received attention to a large degree because Kelly told every interviewer she came across that she had no respect for Clive and that he offered her money to change the album. The negative press generated in regards to this album is more a product of Kelly’s actions than Clive’s.

    “To say the decline in sales of My December and the brick wall that Never Again hit at radio is a qualified reflection of the public’s judgement also ignores the benefit of radio promotion for continuing sales and the incestuous relationship between labels and radio in determing what song will be played. The program director for Z100 recently served as master of ceremonies for Clive’s recent “visionary” award for God’s sake. Why do major label artists dominate to the point that their excessive spin totals eventually make listeners want to vomit if they here the song one more time? Why don’t indie acts get played? Because the major labels dictate and make deals through various means to determine what radio will play. Listener requests/interest is one tiny piece of the equation.”

    There is a incestious nature between labels and stations. Although, I would say there are numerous indie albums that still get airplay. Still, Kelly has been all over national television from AI to Live Earth to talk shows and sales have still declined. It’s not as if people are unaware of this album.

    “Radio play generates sales. Kelly isn’t currently getting support at radio by her label. She isn’t getting a second single pushed to radio. This is all about lack of support from the label, not lack of a worthy single on My December.”

    What is the label supposed to be doing to push the single? You know what will push the play of a single? A tour. Stations regularly increase their play of an artist when that person comes to town. Why hasn’t Kelly and her new management pulled together a tour?

    “Actually some of these reviewers only became supportive of Breakaway after the album sold well. You will find that Rolling Stone, in particular, proclaimed that the album Breakaway had “no legs”. This was in the second week of release in 2004. Over ten million units later what do they have to say about those legs? The reviews for Breakaway on the whole were no better than the reviews for My December. You get some good ones. You get some bad ones. You have some critics who write thoughtfully and some who couldn’t care less about giving a fair listen or an honest review. ”

    I’ve read reviews from the same exact reviewers that panned this album that have been positive about Breakaway. I’ve seen RS’s review of Breakaway and it’s by another writer but I didn’t see anything about them claiming it had “no legs.”

    “As for her songwriting not being that strong I have to disagree. Is it profoud and world changing? No, but it is certainly as strong or stronger than what you will hear on radio today. Clive Davis proclaimed that Avril Lavigne’s album is the best music he has heard all year. So this golden-eared old man is telling us that “Hey hey you you I don’t like your girlfriend. Hey Hey you you I think you need a knew one” has his full support and is worthy of 9000 spins a week on radio. Alrighty then.”

    Whether or not you agree with the reviewers that attack her songwriting is beside the point. The issue was that they weren’t giving any support for their negative stances for the album. I say that the ones I’ve read went into detail about the problems with the album and songwriting was a comonly mentioned issue.

  • http://www.johncweb.com John C Comedy

    First off Brian, I thank you for debating in a respectful manner. It shows that you actually have knowledge of the situation and I respect that…That being said.

    “The one thing you have to give Clive is that he hasn’t publicly said anything negative about the album. His remarks were to a board meeting and they’ve received attention to a large degree because Kelly told every interviewer she came across that she had no respect for Clive and that he offered her money to change the album. The negative press generated in regards to this album is more a product of Kelly’s actions than Clive’s.”

    Kelly didn’t have any sort of action until pushed by the press to reveal what was going on. Roger Friedman, the resident mouthpiece was the culprit for a lot of the drama. Interesting when Kelly apologized, he stopped.

    His presenting of an award for selling a bunch of albums,(which were less than Kelly at the time) plugging Chris Daughtry, etc. and saying nothing about Kelly’s success or Breakaway’s sales was obvious posturing, especially considering Kelly was there.

    Introducing Carrie as a Grammy Award Winner in the context of the talent American Idol has discovered, and saying nothing about Kelly’s awards sealed the deal for me. Not even a mention of her 4 ASCAP Awards, it was painfully obvious not just to me.

    She never said she didn’t respect Clive nor did she say Clive offered her 10 million dollars. That was started by Roger Friedman, yet again, according to his sources of course.

    From Elle:

    “My December’s disparity of themes and lack of an obvious hit were not lost on producer Clive Davis, who is said to have offered Clarkson $10 million to ditch five of her songs for more radio-friendly picks of his choosing. Clarkson declined.”

    Ani DiFranco is a great example of an artist taking their career on their own path. Righteous Babe Records is successful…Now of course.

    She was quite outspoken as well, and Dilate (which is still one of my favorite albums) was both a breath of fresh air, and a kick in the face at the same time. She had it all, she was a scrapper, and she just wanted to play music. But she too learned along the way, showing her face for a bit with Little Plastic Castle.

    The paths are similar…

    Addressing points earlier:

    My general take after reading your piece is that you’re a fan of Kelly’s that takes offense to the fact that there have been a number of negative reviews written in regards to this album. So, your response is to attack those that have written these things. I guess that’s a viable avenue to take but there’s some serious holes in what you’ve written.

    I don’t mind if a reviewer doesn’t like an album, from any artist not just Kelly Clarkson. But I want to know why, give me specifics on the tracks, show me that you actually sat down and listened to the album. Make me hear it while reading your review. What I have read are mostly canned pieces, from a good or bad perspective with recycled drama thrown in to deflect the fact that they never listened to the album, read the lyrics, or even tried to grasp what the artist was trying to convey.

    A couple of examples:

    “SPIN

    Waging a public battle with label boss Clive Davis, Kelly Clarkson has become an unlikely symbol of artistic credibility (Davis has openly questioned My December’s commercial appeal). And like Alanis and Avril before her, she is following a megahit with a self-written serious rock release–musically downbeat, emotionally tortured, and not Top 40-radio tailored. But even without a “Since U Been Gone,” Clarkson’s bleacher-reaching vocals and irrepressible pluck are hard to dislike. With this collection of frosty kiss-offs (“Never Again”), snarling disco rock (“1 Minute”), and unusually subdued ballads (“Irvine”), she cements her place as the pop figurehead for the over-looked and underappreciated teenage girl in all of us.

    Michael Endelman-SPIN”

    Now way in hell he listened to the album.

    “Rolling Stone review (3 stars):

    Plenty of self-expression, not enough pop smarts

    Kelly Clarkson has said she wants My December to be like Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska, because it’s daring, uncommercial, uncompromising, and…oh, come on. It’s a Kelly Clarkson album, for f*ck’s sake. From the hoopla, you’d figure Kelly was playing free-jazz flugelhorn through her nose after drinking Justin Guarini’s blood. It’s cool that she’s trying to write songs, but the tunes come up seriously short on choruses and heavy on the Alanis Morissette references. Her voice sags in low-energy drones like One Minute (feels like an hour) and Don’t Waste Your Time (which has the album’s best line: “Friend? What does that even mean?”). But How I Feel is the best New Wave lobster-rock goof since Cassie’s What Do U Want and even at her tiredest, Kelly still makes you care about her – you just want to play Since U Been Gone for her and cheer her up. -Rob Sheffield”

    This is quite biased. Not really what I would consider an objective resource for music.

    “Up front, I’ll say that I’ve gone back and reviewed a number of negative reviews of this album. Each of them comes from major media outlets (Rolling Stone, NY Times, NY Post, Washington Post, Newsday and All Music). None of these reviews mention a single word about Kelly’s weight or her appearance but each does explain why they didn’t care for the album. So, while there may have been some lesser writers out there writing overly simplistic reviews that focus on her weight, that’s not the case when you examine the reviews from major outlets.”

    The sentiment has always been there. Why even mention it when you’re not asked about it. Again, what does it have to do with her talent?:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp…01338.html

    Warrenton, Va.: Do you guys really like Kelly Clarkson? C’mon, she’s a reality show creation isn’t she?

    Richard Harrington: Actually, Clarkson’s a genuine vocal talent who might not have gotten a shot without “American Idol” based on (not my judgment but general commentary over time) her plain looks and, for a while, minor weight issues. She is what she is–a very good pop singer and she’s had some great singles. Obviously she’s not your cup of tea but an awful lot of people seem to like her. Plus we at Weekend don’t like or dislike anyone collectively, so some of us may like her and some of us may not.”

    http://www.contactmusic.com/news…se_1001892

    CLARKSON: ‘VITAMIN WATER STORY IS NONSENSE’

    Also see:
    KELLY CLARKSON
    AMERICAN IDOL

    Pop star KELLY CLARKSON has hit back at new reports she has been told to diet or lose a lucrative new modelling deal, insisting the story is a joke. The first AMERICAN IDOL winner has been dogged by weight problem rumours ever since she won the TV talent contest, but her publicists insist the latest reports that she’s on the verge of losing a deal with fitness drink firm Vitamin Water are ridiculous. A spokesperson for the SINCE U BEEN GONE singer insists, “Nothing could be further from the truth,” adding Clarkson has already shot her first Vitamin Water photo shoot.
    08/07/2006 09:21″

    Kelly Clarkson Will “Never Again” Be Told What To Sing By Execs

    May 16, 2007 5:00 a.m. EST

    Sally Grover – AHN Staff Writer

    Los Angeles, CA (AHN) – Kelly Clarkson is turning out to be a more outspoken “American Idol.”

    ……Singing isn’t the only issue Kelly is having at the moment. The original “American Idol” winner has been struggling with her weight gain.

    An insider said, “She feels pressure from her label, her handlers, and her friends to lose weight. She’s always moaning about how she can’t find a boyfriend and she blames this dry spell on her weight. The way Kelly looks and feels now, Kelly isn’t going to let a man love her, [which is what she may need] to get off this negative merry-go-round.”

    Star magazine reports that Kelly is desperate to lose 25 pounds.

    http://www.allheadlinenews.com/a…7007358860

    KELLY IN CONTROL
    By Dave Karger
    EW

    You look pretty normal to me right now, but people often comment on your weight. [After her performance on the Idol Gives Back charity show last month, one message boarder dubbed her ”Mama Cass.”] Does that bother you?
    You’re just like, Oh, well, that sucks. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t suck that much or else I’d do something about it. I work out when I want to work out; I don’t work out when I don’t want to work out. After a long day and I’m tired, yeah, a cookie helps. It makes me feel good. It’s soul food! There’s a reason why it’s called that. I drop, like, 15 pounds when I’m on tour.

    “Also, you make the case that the label didn’t support get any support from the label. I’d be interested in hearing what more the label was supposed to do. She was booked for a number of TV appearances, she was featured in numerous publications, there was a video released and “Never Again” was sent out to radio. It’s not really RCA’s fault that interest in the song faded and it began falling back on the chart. I think it’s easy to blame the label but tell me what they could have done more. It would especially interest me to hear your comments, since you make the case in the paragraph before that one that labels are focused on money. Yes, they’re a business and turning a profit is key to survival, so, what reasoning would they have for not fully promoting an album that cost them millions?”

    The album was held up for months. A tour scheduled pending promotion of the album, but when RCA finally got around to releasing the album there was hardly any promotion, obvious objection from the executives at the label, and lack of support to push spins on radio. In her own words… specific label issues entire article

    Breakaway went Platinum 6 times, over two and a half years. My December has been out a little over a month.

    “And, finally, you’re correct that no one is complaining about her voice. In fact, most reviews tend to point out how talented she is as a vocalist. The reviewers I’ve read have made more of an issue of the fact that her songwriting isn’t that strong. I know that some of the reviewers that wrote negative comments about this album were supportive of Breakaway. So, it’s nothing against Kelly, it’s just that she made a weak album. Looking at the dropping album sales, looks like audiences are finding the same thing out.”

    And they are certainly entitled to their opinions, in fact I encourage it, if thought out. To say she sucks, or its not Breakaway, or its not Since You Been Gone, is not a good enough analysis for why the album isn’t any good. My December isn’t Breakaway nor was it intended to be.

    It was meant to be a story from beginning to end, but no one ever touched on that, or even gave it that chance. Instead, they made assumptions, based on her prior entry point into the music industry. If reviewers only half listen to music, then what are they doing with the rest of their time? Besides pinging their IP addresses to see where they’re located.

  • I am the media

    “Yes, the nature of the music industry is to compare sales to an artist’s previous releases. The fact is that six million people, in the U.S. alone, have shown they’re willing to purchase a Kelly Clarkson lbum. So, it only stands to reason she should be able to do half of that on a follow-up. The numbers aren’t going that way, though.”

    Of course the nature is to compare to previous album sales, but if the current album isn’t given the same benefit it’s a comparison of apples an oranges. There are pronouncements about the failure of the album without any qualifying statements outside of deeming the album itself unworthy. Breakaway didn’t sell 6 million albums in one month. It took consistent promotion. Why does it stand to reason My December should sell half of that? Where is this arbitrary number coming from? IF the label wants to support the album with a second single. IF the label wants to generate positive press. IF the label weren’t operating from decision making out of fear in a declining industry then you could have a different story with the sales of My December. Kelly is a viable artist to sell in the millions when given the proper treatment. Her popularity really hasn’t waned. As one form of evidence she has topped Promosquad’s Hit Predictor for Top 40 and Overall Artist for months.

    “Her album is, as you point out, closing in on 600,000. In fairness, it’s likely to be a couple of weeks before she hits that goal. Looking at the numbers, she sold in excess of 291,000 copies the first week. Since then, she has seen her numbers drop every single week. Now, the album is in its sixth week and sales have fallen to just above 26,000. To give that number some perspective, neither of her first two albums dropped below 40,000 in the first twelve weeks.”

    Yes, and her first two albums were still being promoted at this time in the game. Once again it’s apples and oranges. You want to hold My December to the sales standards of those album when this album has not received the same benefits.

    “So, when someone says this album is “tanking,” part of that would be based on the fact it is underperforming against expectations for a multi-million selling artist and part would have to do with the fact that the album debuted decently but, in a month-and-a-half, has dropped to doing 10% of those numbers.”

    Yes I made the point that it is an expectations game. However, the point also being made is that no artist, no label, no reviewer should expect sales to be sustained without continued promotion.

    “I’m sure Kelly would consider her attempt to make a personal album a success. Her warm and fuzzy feelings, however, don’t do a lot to cover the millions of dollars invested in her album. She has said she’s got more than enough money to live on but does that mean the various employees at the label have to suffer because she wants to do things her way.”

    Her warm, fuzzy feelings about Breakaway (much of which Clive Davis also hated) paid quite a few paychecks for those people. I think when Kelly stuck to her guns about releasing songs like Miss Independent and won a hardfought battle to get Because of You on her album then she had good reason to follow her instincts. For all we know if she had not fought for the release of Miss Independent over Some Kind of Miracle her career could have tanked right out of the gate and we never would have gotton to the point of this discussion. For all we know if Kelly had recorded that Lindsay Lohan cover that Clive Davis wanted we would have gotton endless reviews about Kelly’s lack of artistry and how her puppet strings were being pulled. I’ve heard this album. It’s mainstream, it’s pop and it has hooks. There is simply no indication that another single pushed to radio wouldn’t generate additonal sales.

    “Once again, exactly what is it that you expect the label to be doing? There’s only so much a label can do. With that said, there’s a point when the label has to decide if it’s worth it to keep in investing in an album or whether they need to cut their losses and move on. No doubt, they’ll continue promoting the album to some degree because they want a return on their investment and they need to keep her name in the public eye until they can get the next album ready but spending more money to push it may be a bad way to use their limited resources.”

    I don’t know how many times it can be said. Support the album at radio. You know, get proper research numbers and have the reps do the job of feeding the research to the stations. Actualy ask them to play the song. The problem is that Kelly was given (from the start) a limited promotion budget for this album and RCA did not put the same kind of manpower on her album that they put on an album such as Avril Lavigne’s. Sorry, but the treatment Never Again got at radio does not match the reception from the public. Relase another single. Do things like write a press release that actually sounds exicted. The week of Kelly’s album release it was #1 in worldwide sales. Did RCA use that as point to hype up the album? No, they issued a statement telling us Kelly came second to Miley Cyrus. And we got quotes from RCA representatives telling us the sales were “nice” but “well see” what happens in the future. Hellloooo???? You’re suppsed to be getting people interested in this album RCA.

    “He’s also said that he wanted to see it do well because it was an important album for his label. To that degree, he apparently was very instrumental in getting it promoted early on. Once again, the guy has a business to run and I can’t see him intentionally hurting his business because he doesn’t want to look wrong. He’s dealt with strong artists through the years and this is nothing new. If he had wanted to, he could have scrapped the album or he could have forced her to change it. Instead, he gave her room to do what she wanted and see how that would go. Unfortunately, the album has seen negative reviews in various major publications and seen album sales drop after the initial core fans purchased their copies.”

    Kelly was being stubborn about not wanting to record Since U Been Gone ripoffs and Lindsay Lohan covers. I can’t say I blame her if they weren’t giving her any quality material to work with. What Clive Davis wanted to do was finally release My December so that he could bury it as quickly as possible so that he gets on with having her record a pop album to be released next year (using writers whom he has business relationships with) and actually push that album to radio. RCA has written off My December in the US already. There never really was a plan in place to give this album longterm support.

    “The one thing you have to give Clive is that he hasn’t publicly said anything negative about the album. His remarks were to a board meeting and they’ve received attention to a large degree because Kelly told every interviewer she came across that she had no respect for Clive and that he offered her money to change the album. The negative press generated in regards to this album is more a product of Kelly’s actions than Clive’s.”

    I think the media and the fans very quickly picked up on Clive’s diss of Kelly at the Amercian Idol finale. The fact that it was passive agressive didn’t keep it from being obvious. This action was taken by Clive at a time when the rumors of his dislike of the album had only recently surfaced. This was his opportunity to come out in support of Kelly and squelch the rumors. Yet he chose the opposite path. The man has a monumental ego and is quite powerful. Sorry, but you have to realize that sometimes eogs overrides making proper business decisions.

    Kelly’s voice on the subject was initally heard AFTER leaks from the label side had already surface and radio DJ’s and internet message boards were already discussing the topic of Clives hate for the album. Kelly probably added fuel to the fire but she certainly didn’t start it.

    “There is a incestious nature between labels and stations. Although, I would say there are numerous indie albums that still get airplay. Still, Kelly has been all over national television from AI to Live Earth to talk shows and sales have still declined. It’s not as if people are unaware of this album.”

    Play that indie albums get doesn’t generate millions of sales. Limited play of Kelly’s songs will also not generate millions of sales. Kelly’s appearances were mostly toward the beginning of the album release. Live Earth had dismal ratings. Television appearance typically don’t generate the same level of sales that consistent radio play can generate. I think Kelly sold as she should have been expected to sell based on promotion outside of radio. Without radio support her declining sales should also be expected.

    “What is the label supposed to be doing to push the single? You know what will push the play of a single? A tour. Stations regularly increase their play of an artist when that person comes to town. Why hasn’t Kelly and her new management pulled together a tour?”

    A tour is currently being planned.

    “I’ve read reviews from the same exact reviewers that panned this album that have been positive about Breakaway. I’ve seen RS’s review of Breakaway and it’s by another writer but I didn’t see anything about them claiming it had “no legs.””

    The “no legs” mention from Rolling Stone was in an article about sales, not an album review. It just a point to show that a larger media publication was ready to declare Breakaway a failure without a fair assessment. I don’t find a review by NY Post to have any more relevance than a review from Joe Blow. Tastes are subjective and an opinons isn’t fact, no matter who writes it.

    “Whether or not you agree with the reviewers that attack her songwriting is beside the point. The issue was that they weren’t giving any support for their negative stances for the album. I say that the ones I’ve read went into detail about the problems with the album and songwriting was a comonly mentioned issue.”

    I’ve read reveiws that have attacked her writing and I’ve read reviews that have complimented her songwriting. MY point of contention is that we are being told by those in position to make a difference (like Clive Davis) that what we hear on radio is worthy while what we hear on My December is not. I say that’s BS.

  • emily

    Holy crap. I like Kellys album, and I think she got the shit end of the deal with the fight with Clive and the record label not supporting her and stuff, but ya’ll are writing novels in here.

    If this album was done by a man or pretty much anyone else – I think people wouldn’t have been so harsh. Problem was everyone wanted to compare it to Breakaway and when you do that, it’s obviously not as good of a pop album. But it’s an amazing, personal, heartfelt album that is a damn good listen. All the negative press made it sound like something Ashley Simpson would make.

  • pam

    i think all the media and anyone who doubts Kelly should read this…awesome job!

  • Thisgurl

    This debate between the gentleman who wrote this article, and these grossly opinionated critic/network nit-wits is absolutely HILARIOUS!!!! ……and not in a good way

    to the old farts who know it all,
    yeah, we know who you are.

  • Thisgurl

    MD ROcks!!!!!

  • http://abcatyahoo abcgum

    this cd roxxxxxx!

  • http://abcatyahoo abcgum

    hey kelly give me a holla [Personal contact info deleted] Love ya bye :)

  • Leighlah

    Found this in the blog search. Nice write-up, hope her new album is just as good.