Artist of the day

 

I am a HUGE Kelly Clarkson fan. I remember watching first season of American Idol and rooting for her and I still am 10 years later. There is something about her that has always been likable and relatable. I know she always gets the big hits, gets nominated and her albums are always critically acclaimed but like P!nk as much as everyone knows their talent and gives them credit for it they don’t get the same attention as Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift do. Each of her albums I have connected with. She is a great song writer and she is kind of like a spokesperson for all women and young girls! She sings about how we are feeling, go through or have been through.

I’ve always wanted to check her out live in concert but I never followed up with it. I went to Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden back in December and she was one of the artists performing and I was so excited to see her. Of course she only had limited time and only sang three songs but the whole Garden lit up and sang word for word and it was fun to sing along with her and feel that energy for her. She was very humble and sounded amazing live, as I knew she would be.

I love how real she is and how she stands up for herself and what she represents. I think she is a great role model and when Kelly Clarkson and Demi Lovato performed at Jingle Ball, I thought about how much both of these ladies represent; they are both role models – Kelly for my generation and Demi for the younger generation. It was great to see and at the end Lovato said “This is a dream come true, I grew up listening to Kelly and she is my idol” and tearfully hugged her.

Kelly has been criticized about her weight and the fact that she doesn’t look like the typical pop star, she is beautiful no matter what size she is, like all women are. What I love about her is she never molded into what Hollywood wanted and expected. She stayed away from L.A, has never made any headlines and never sold sex for records and attention. She is hands down one of my favorite artists ever! My top 6 are: Kelly Clarkson, Pink, Eminem, Adele, Carrie Underwood and Beyonce.

Attached is a great article and interview:

‘I want to punch Adele in the face!” Kelly Clarkson throws back her head and guffaws. “She is just too good. I saw the Brit awards and I was bawlin’ just watching her on YouTube, in a little box this big.” We’re talking about the dormant tradition of the confessional singer-songwriter in the pop charts, with Clarkson interspersing her thoughts with references to her “really rough upbringing”. But off-the-cuff flippancies are never far away (though it turns out they’re not so off the cuff – she uses the Adele line in other interviews later in the day). For someone who woke up at 1.30am in Germany, her capacity for exuberant chatter is remarkable.

As are many things about the course Clarkson has steered. She was the first winner of American Idol, before it became a defining juggernaut of a decade’s pop culture; it’s hard to imagine now, but when Clarkson first auditioned, the fate of the show – let alone its contestants – was an unknown. “I had no idea what the show was until the third audition,” she says. “My goal was just to be a backup singer – I never intended to be in front. But then my apartment in LA burned down and I had to move home, I had no money and I had to sleep in my car for three days. I just auditioned for this thing that said they’d pay you, and it happened to be American Idol. I didn’t go into it thinking this would happen; I went into it thinking it might pay my electric bill.”

This is a point Clarkson emphasises throughout the interview: she has no interest in fame or celebrity, she never dreamed of being a star, she doesn’t seek the limelight, she’s just not that kind of girl. “Literally, my career is happenstance,” she says, spreading her arms and with what sounds like astonishment in her voice. “I work very hard, but I always wonder how in the world I got here.” Here, of course, is with four global multi-platinum albums, sell-out worldwide tours and a list of industry awards. And for all her bubbly charm, a steely professionalism glints occasionally. When asked to respond to Simon Cowell‘s recent comment that Clarkson “started to fight against what made her successful … one minute she wants to make pop records, and then she doesn’t,” she laughs loudly again, but there’s a distinct flash of anger as she says: “Everyone’s aware that My Life Would Suck Without You and Already Gone were huge pop hits, right? Just checking. Maybe someone should send ’em to him!”

Clarkson has the hardened industry songwriter’s habit of describing her music as though arranging it in record shop genre categories:”My new single is very rhythmic pop-rock, and the next one is a little more dance, pop-rock, R&B; the album has a very fluid vibe to it, a little rhythmic, a little pop, a little rock, some singer-songwriter stuff on there, too.” It’s an underwhelming way to sell her album. So her protestations of ordinariness might all seem somewhat disingenuous – though it’s refreshing to hear a pop megastar acknowledge concepts such as luck and chance, rather than grimly trotting out American dream cliches and Protestant work ethic myths – were it not for her own career decisions bearing it out.

Between promotional campaigns, she all but vanishes from the public eye, retreating to her homes in Nashville and Texas, where her family owns a 60-acre animal rescue ranch (“horses, goats, pigs, dogs; animals that are deaf, blind, mistreated, about to be put to sleep”). And famously, over the years, there have been the repeated clashes with her label. Reviewing her debut album, 2003’s solid-but-unremarkable Thankful, Rolling Stone described her as “a pop posy whose career is tied for eternity to the whims of her American Idol overlords”. During the subsequent eight years, the question of what sort of music it is appropriate for an Idol winner to record and release has been front and centre of Clarkson’s career.

This came to a head in 2007 over the bleak My December, an album that opens with the girl who was meant to be America’s sweetheart snarling ” I hope the ring you gave to her turns her finger green” over grunge guitars, and ends with Irvine, a bare, flickering lightbulb of a ballad that sounds like a nervous breakdown in song form. Clarkson says she penned it alone in a hotel room, exhausted, at the “lowest point in my life”. Too dark, too bitter, too negative; the reaction, both from label executives and, bizarrely, from critics who seemed to run with their line, was telling. It was possibly indicative that none of its critics had listened to Clarkson’s previous album, Breakaway, particularly the song that would become its greatest success. Rolling her eyes, Clarkson laughs again. “My biggest song worldwide is Because of You, and … you may as well grab a knife. That song really is the most depressing one I’ve ever written. I tried to get it on Thankful, and was laughed at and told I wasn’t a good writer. So then I tried to get it on Breakaway – and the label saw the results, people responding to it, and allowed it to become a single. Then took credit for its success, of course.”

The episode also seemed to exemplify a sense that female anger no longer had the place in the mainstream that it had during the 1990s, when Clarkson was growing up listening to Alanis Morissette; she feels this is changing, raving about both Adele and country singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert’s latest Pistol Annies project. “I looooove Pistol Annies!” she gushes. “Anything to do with harmonies, I love, and how bare is that production? Miranda is one of my favourites. Have I thought about collaborating with her? Uhhh – I might think about it every day! I run into her all the time and I swear to God she thinks I’m stalking her and she hates me. Every time I run into her, usually I’m intoxicated and I’m slurring, ‘We need to sing a song!’ at her. She says she wants to do it, but every time she has an album coming out, I do too, so we’re both way too busy. Or she’s just sidestepping me, I don’t know, haha.”

While Clarkson’s fourth album, 2009’s All I Ever Wanted, was a disappointment – from its brightly coloured artwork to its shiny production and its Katy Perry co-writes – it seemed to go out of its way to pretend that angry, rock Kelly no longer existed; that there was only happy, pop Kelly. But her new album, Stronger, seems free of such second-guessing. Almost every track kisses off someone or other; if it plays it safe in places, such as lead single Mr Know It All, then the cynical snarl of Let Me Down and the cast-iron pop choruses of What Doesn’t Kill You and Einstein are full of the bravado and force that characterise Clarkson’s best work. For once, she seems to be of one mind with her label. “This is the first record that my label and I have agreed on everything. There’s one song that I was kinda, uh …” – Clarkson pauses delicately – “but it’s not a bad song. I’m crossing my fingers that there’s no more drama.”

The drama, however, has been key to securing the loyalty of the global fanbase Clarkson never sought. She’s a “ballsy, Texan, sarcastic asshole”, as she puts it; her fight not to be moulded is now a key part of her public persona. But what she’s fighting to retain is conventional and relatable – so much so that she sometimes seems like a fifth columnist in the oddball environment of the entertainment industry, particularly when she calls its bad behaviour out: blogging acerbically about Kanye West following his interruption of Taylor Swift’s Video Music awards acceptance speech; revealing that songwriter Ryan Tedder gave the identical backing track to both her and Beyoncé without telling either, leading to uncomfortably similar songs winding up on both artists’ albums; happily withholding sympathy when Perez Hilton was punched in the face by will.i.am’s tour manager. Reminding her of each of these incidents sends Clarkson into more gales of laughter. “I come from a very hardcore sarcastic family, and if you can’t hold your ground you need to shut up. And Perez had been dishing it out left and right – to people’s children, 13-year-old-girls, putting stuff on their mouths in pictures. That’s crass and gross. Recently, I heard he’s changed. I don’t know, I’ve never gone [to his site]. I don’t believe in violence, but he was hateful.”

One gets the impression that Clarkson’s sense of self is hard won and highly prized. “I had to grow a thick skin from the age of five,” she agrees, referring to a childhood defined by family breakdown and financial hardship.When Clarkson explains how, in contrast to “a lot of people who love to do these personas”, she is just “constantly the same person”, it sounds less like a dull lack of imagination and more like a triumph.

“I think I’m not unattainable,” she reflects. “A lot of stars are, but you have a friend like me – I promise!” It is that promise that ensures, no matter how much Clarkson claims she would happily quit the industry if her records stopped selling, she is unlikely to have to do so for a long while yet.

 

— Anyone from USA Today:

 Kelly Clarkson can’t stop saying she’s sorry. Having shown up 10 minutes late for a morning interview — she had trouble dozing off the night before, then overslept, she explains — the normally punctual singer spends much of the next 10 minutes apologizing for everything from her tardiness to her appearance.

 

“Do you know what it’s like when you’ve just woken up, and your lips are all huge and your face is swollen?” Clarkson asks. “Every time I talk, I keep licking my lips. They must look monstrous. I must look like a platypus.”

In truth, sitting in a hotel lounge in jeans and a T-shirt, her wholesomely pretty face free of makeup except for a touch of mascara, Clarkson doesn’t resemble a platypus any more than she does a pop star. Seven years after rocketing to fame as the first American Idol, the 26-year-old — whose fourth studio album, All I Ever Wanted, arrives Tuesday — still exudes a disarming normalcy. She admits she can be “very self-conscious,” if you hadn’t already drawn that conclusion, but that’s not to say Clarkson lacks confidence, or cultivates a more fabulous image.

“I live on a ranch in Texas and do my own thing,” she says. “And I don’t care what anyone has to say about it. My joke is that the only people I’m trying to please are myself and my fans, because they’re the ones buying my records. And I have the best, most loyal fan base ever.”

That mix of graciousness, candor and moxie informs All I Ever Wanted, which has already racked up a million-plus-selling No. 1 single with the thumping My Life Would Suck Without You. Clarkson co-wrote a number of songs on the album, her collaborators this time including pop savants such as Ryan Tedder, Sam Watters and Louis Bianciello, and veteran rock producer Howard Benson.

“Variety” is the key factor, Clarkson says, with influences ranging from “British punk to a kind of R&B/hip-hop feel to a colorful ’70s rock vibe.”

She acknowledges that “a lot of cooks” helped determine the lineup. “There’s the team at my label, my management and me. But for this album, pretty much everyone agreed on most of the songs.”

Dark ‘December’

By most accounts, including Clarkson’s own, the process behind her last album was more tortured. In promoting 2007’s My December, the singer spoke frankly about the creative differences that delayed its release.

Her previous outing, 2004’s Breakaway, for which Clarkson had helped write about half the songs, was an unqualified success; it has sold 6 million copies. But the singer suggested that label executives weren’t as supportive of her autonomy when it came to My December‘s darker, less overtly commercial fare.

In the August 2007 issue of Blender, Clarkson singled out music industry titan Clive Davis, then CEO of the BMG label group, which at the time oversaw Clarkson’s label, RCA. “I get you don’t like (My December),” she recalled telling Davis. “You’re 80, you’re not supposed to like my album.” (He was 75 at the time.)

In the ensuing flap, she issued a statement that read, in part, “I’m well aware that Clive is one of the great record men of all time. He has been an important force in my success. He has also given me respect by releasing my new album when he was not obligated to do so. … I apologize to those whom I have done disservice.”

There was no evidence of hard feelings when Clarkson sang at Davis’ pre-Grammys bash this year. When reminded of the episode, Clarkson insists, “I’m really not a controversial person. I’m too lazy to be controversial.” But she also points out that she wasn’t “apologizing to anyone in particular at the label. I was apologizing to my fan base and to the people on my team who had worked so hard on a project we all loved, and who were getting flak” because of her comments.

Though My December has been Clarkson’s lowest-selling album to date, she maintains that it wasn’t a conscious departure from her previous work.

“It was a shock to me when the album came out and people were like, ‘Oh, she’s departing from pop.’ I think How I Feel, which is on that album, is the most poppy song I’ve ever written. It was a different album than Breakaway, but when I came out with Breakaway, people also thought I was moving away from pop. ‘Oh, she’s doing rock.’ And there was some backlash there, too.”

RCA Music Group general manager Tom Corson says he views My December as “part of (Clarkson’s) creative process as an artist and a human being. We’re pleased with how it did, and we supported it, even though there was some drama behind it.”

Artistic vision

That drama was beneficial for All I Ever Wanted, says Blender editor in chief Joe Levy. “The thing you love about great pop music is that friction between the artistic impulse and the commercial impulse, and Kelly’s new album has that in spades.”

Levy allows that female pop artists “like Kelly and Beyoncé often don’t get the credit they deserve. No matter how many writers and producers they work with, they have a sound of their own. When Kelly pushes dance songs in a rock direction and rock songs in a dance/pop direction, that’s her artistic vision.”

Clarkson accepts, to a point, that any young artist — particularly one whose vehicle to fame was a reality TV show — must fight to relay and control that vision. “I got a lot of flak when I didn’t want to pump an album out right after (winning) Idol. They didn’t know what I wanted to do. In fairness, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do.”

She still recalls, drily, having to “really fight” for the breakthrough single Miss Independent. “Then it ended up being No. 1 for seven weeks, and everyone else took credit. That’s why on Breakaway they were willing to let me do stuff like Since U Been Gone. It’s like taking baby steps. Now, four albums in, people understand that I love and can sing different kinds of music.”

Clarkson remains grateful for the crucial role that Idol played in her career; she’ll perform her single on Wednesday’s results show. “There is no artist development (at record labels) anymore, and what’s cool about the show is that you get to go on TV — which doesn’t usually happen when you’re a beginning artist — and decide what you sing, what you wear, how you talk. People appreciate the chance to vote for someone who may not get a record deal because they don’t fit a certain prototype.”

The corporate clashes and changes of management that have marked Clarkson’s post-Idol tenure “have taught me that, one, I can’t control everything, and, two, what I can control should be positive.” Hence her switch from bigwig manager Jeff Kwatinetz to Narvel Blackstock, whose other clients include his wife, and Clarkson’s sometime duet partner, Reba McEntire.

“Jeff was a great manager, but we continued to disagree on one thing: He wanted to manage the biggest pop star in the world, and that has never been and will never be a goal of mine. That’s way too much pressure. At the end of the day, I want to do things that will make me happy, and Narvel gets that.”

Not into dating right now

Happiness, for Clarkson, will not necessarily require marriage. “I’m not against it. If I found a guy who could handle my job, that would be cool. But I’ve dated a couple of guys who were awesome, and the celebrity part of my life and the traveling part are hard to get around. You never get to see each other, especially if you’re both musicians.” (Clarkson’s former beaus include singer/songwriter Graham Colton, who toured with her.)

For the time being, she’s content not to be in a relationship. “I went to see He’s Just Not That Into You the other night, and honestly, you walk away from that movie feeling so glad that you’re single. I went with friends who are my backup singers on the road, and have their own group, and we were like, where do we even meet people when you’re working so much? I mean, we travel with a bunch of married men! And I love working; I can’t see myself not doing this.”

Clarkson is even more adamant about not wanting children. “Oh, my God, I have no desire. I would not be a good mother. I mean, I love being an aunt to my niece and nephew. And I used to want to, like, adopt 10 kids — because I had friends who were adopted, and I thought that was the coolest thing, to be chosen. But again, my job is too selfish.”

That said, Clarkson is keen that stardom not distort her ideals. “It would be easy for me to go, ‘Whatever, I’ll be a fembot.’ But I have a big fear of change, or negative change, anyway. I’m basically the same person I was when I won Idol, or when I was 10.

“Maybe it sounds cheesy, but in a world that is not normal, my goal is to continue doing what I love and feeling good about it. That’s it.”

 

— Are you a fan of Kelly? Who is your favorite artist that you go to when you are feeling sad or happy? What artist do you feel you can totally relate to whenever you are going through a tough time?

 

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