I'm very pleased to have a feature in Salon today on the American Idol contestant contract situation, which is not good, for them:
- Hope, uncertainty, euphoria, disillusionment: This is a familiar career arc for pop stars caught in the manufacturing cogs of the star-making machine, from Ronnie Spector and the Monkees to the Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys and O-Town.
Will this be the fate of winner Kelly Clarkson and the other finalists of Fox's summer smash "American Idol: The Search for a Superstar"? At first glance, Clarkson would seem to have it made. This week sees the release of her first chart-bound single, "Before Your Love/A Moment Like This." But Clarkson is less an artist, in the old-fashioned sense, than the extruded product of an impersonal manufacturing process.
Clarkson and the other finalists signed an unusually onerous contract with 19 Group, the production company headed by British pop entrepreneur Simon Fuller. These young performers are wrapped up for recording, management and merchandising under the most restrictive terms imaginable: Their careers are literally not their own....
Entertainment Weekly discusses Kelly's new single and her music career:
- Kelly Clarkson may have bested Justin, Nikki, and some 10,000 others, but she'll soon face a challenge even more Darwinian than ''American Idol.'' When the stripe-haired, sweet-smiling Texan releases her debut album on RCA Records early next year, she'll find herself competing not with fellow amateurs, but with some of the music biz's heaviest hitters. Two of her role models, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, are even releasing albums this fall.
So what should Kelly do as she prepares to play with the big boys and girls? Industry vet David Foster (Celine Dion, Whitney Houston) and two younger producer/songwriters — Peter Zizzo (Avril Lavigne, M2M) and Warryn Campbell (Sisqo, Brandy) — offer EW.com some detailed, if occasionally conflicting, advice for her album.
Foster may be the king of the adult-contemporary ballad, but even he thinks that the material Kelly sang on ''American Idol'' was stodgy. ''Most of it was too adult,'' he says. ''Now that we're all older we tend to forget who we're selling records to.'' To appeal to kids and fit in on the radio, Kelly should embrace a modern R&B edge (if she's comfortable with it), while also sticking with the big, early-Mariah style ballads that seem to be her strength (i.e., ''A Moment Like This''), says Foster. ''You've got to think that kind of big ballad slot is slightly available. There really isn't anyone in their early 20s that's doing that right now.''