Kelly Clarkson is striking back at Sony Music’s chief creative officer Clive Davis, who makes some unsparing comments about the American Idol season one winner in his new memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life.
In his book, out today, Davis revisits the infamous feud with the singer over her third album, My December, and takes shots at Clarkson for hysterics over recording one of her biggest hits.
Never one to back down from a fight, Clarkson — who just won Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammy Awards for her fifth CD, Stronger — took to her Whosay account to set the record straight, declaring that she refuses “to be bullied.”
“So I just heard Clive Davis is releasing a memoir and spreading false information about me and my music,” she wrote. “I just have to clear up his memory lapses and misinformation for myself and for my fans. It feels like a violation. Growing up is awesome because you learn you don’t have to cower to anyone — even Clive Davis.”
The first inaccuracy, Clarkson said, is that she shed tears when recording “Since You Been Gone” with Max Martin and Dr. Luke.
“First, he says I burst into “hysterical sobbing” in his office when he demanded “Since You Been Gone” be on my album. Not true at all. His stories and songs are mixed up,” she said. “I did want more guitars added to the original demo and Clive did not. Max, Luke and I still fought for the bigger sound and we prevailed and I couldn’t be more proud of the life of that song. I resent him dampening that song in any way.”
The tears came, she said, over “Because of You,” a song she authored and Davis did not want on the album. “Because of You” was one of Clarkson’s most successful singles from Breakaway.
“I cried after I played him a song I had written about my life called ‘Because Of You.’ I cried because he hated it and told me verbatim that I was a ‘sh*tty writer’ who should be grateful for the gifts that he bestows upon me,” she said. “He continued on about how the song didn’t rhyme and how I should just shut up and sing. This was devastating coming from a man who I, as a young girl, considered a musical hero and was so honored to work with. But I continued to fight for the song and the label relented. And it became a worldwide hit. He didn’t include that in the book.”
As for My December, Clarkson had pointed words for the 80-year-old music mogul, who said the album wasn’t “successful because I co-penned the album and it didn’t have ‘pop hits.’ Well, first let me say, I’ve co-penned many of my ‘pop hits.’ Secondly, My December went platinum (it sold 20,000 less than All I Ever Wanted which followed My December.) Hardly a huge failure. ‘Never Again,’ the ONLY single they released in the US from that record was a Top 10 hit. I am very proud of that and I have my fans to thank,” she said.
Clarkson does blame Davis for torpedoing the record before it came out at a music industry event.
“What’s most interesting about his story is what he leaves out: He doesn’t mention how he stood up in front of his company at a convention and belittled me and my music and completely sabotaged the entire project,” she said. “It never had a chance to reach its full potential. My December was an album I needed to make for myself for many reasons and the fact that I was so completely disregarded and disrespected was so disheartening, there really aren’t words to explain.”
Clarkson concluded the post on a positive note, writing: “I love my job. I love my music. I love my fans. I love my label and all of my professional relationships… now. And I am grateful for Clive for teaching me to know the difference.”
Addressing Clarkson’s previous public statements, Davis writes, “It’s clear that Kelly Clarkson has a decidedly independent streak, to say the least, and often speaks in public before she realizes the implications of what she’s saying. She even made an enthusiastic statement in support of Ron Paul… without comprehending how that would infuriate many of her fans. Those fans, however, are also drawn to her shoot-from-the-hip style. She’s definitely outspoken and has built a very loyal following that loves her for it…”
While Clarkson’s numbers are slightly off, according to Nielsen SoundScan — My December has sold 836,000 copies in the U.S. thus far; All I Ever Wanted has sold 965,000 — My December was a huge disappointment in the wake of its predecessor, Breakaway, which had sold some 5.8 million copies at the time of My December’s release and is now at approximately 6.3 million.
However, sources have long said that the label was told not to work any singles from My December after “Never Again,” in the wake of the very public Davis-Clarkson dispute, and indeed, no other songs from the album charted with any significance.
At press time, reps for Clarkson and Davis had not responded to Billboard.biz’s requests for comment; a rep for RCA said the label had no comment.
Read addiitional passages from Davis’ book below:
On “Since U Been Gone”…
“… you have to take direction. Kelly didn’t like it. Max and Luke were merciless in pursuit of getting the right performance for their song. Kelly got her back up, and, from her perspective, she had a horrible experience in the studio. She’d never work with them again, she said… I could not have been more thrilled… Everyone loved the end result, and I could just feel the momentum building…
“In the meantime, before any of this transpired, Kelly had requested a meeting with me, which was scheduled for the day after the international meeting… To this point I had never really spent much personal time with her… Kelly began the meeting by saying, ‘I want to be direct and to the point. I hate ‘Since U Been Gone,’ and I hate ‘Behind These Hazel Eyes.’ I didn’t like working with Max Martin and Dr. Luke, and I don’t like the end product. I really want both songs off of my album.’ I sat there, shocked…
“It was a very tough conversation, and it didn’t get any easier when Kelly burst into hysterical sobbing. … ‘What you’re asking me to do is impossible. I’ve committed to all our executives all over the world. The stakes are just too high. ‘Since U Been Gone’ is going to be the first single, and it’s going to be a game-changer for you.’ Kelly didn’t say another word. She just looked at me with red, puffy eyes and a swollen face, and got up to leave. I truly felt awful. I’ve had differences of opinion with artists and my share of tough meetings, but I really had never been in a situation like that before. Of course, the rest is history…”
On “Because of You”…
“In subsequent interviews, Kelly said that she had to fight to get ‘Because of You’ on the album, but that simply wasn’t the case. I have no idea where she heard that, perhaps from someone internationally trying to cause trouble. … Because of its tempo, I did say it should be the album’s third or fourth single, but there was never any question that not only would it be included on the album, but that it would break out from the album as a single release. It’s truly a shame that Kelly and I didn’t have more direct contact to put the kibosh on that false information. That happens occasionally, and it’s always damaging when there’s little personal contact…”
On My December…
“Historically, it’s always worried me when I’ve heard pop singers say that [they want to write all their own material], but I was open-minded about it in this case… I eventually got a copy of the tracks she had recorded… The only song I heard with anything like the potential to follow up the breakthrough of the Breakaway album was one called ‘Never Again.’ Even that song didn’t sound like a number-one hit to me, but it was at least capable of making a strong showing on the charts, perhaps entering the Top 10. That was not true of anything else I heard on the album. I called [Clarkson’s then-manager Jeff Kwatinetz] … ‘We don’t have the hits here that you said we have. … You know, I do have standing here far beyond just being head of the company… Our contract gives me the right to approve the material and not release this album if I don’t want to. I’m not doing that… But I’m begging you, let me test these songs…’ Jeff finally said, ‘Okay’…. So we did market research on seven or eight of the album’s songs, which Jeff selected. My initial reaction was confirmed. ‘Never Again’ came back as the album’s only possible hit single. Nothing else remotely surfaced…
The Breakaway album sold nearly 12 million copies worldwide. It would have sold about 20 percent of that if I had agreed to take off the songs that Kelly told me point-blank to my face that she hated and wanted removed…”