Friday, July 13, 2007

Kelly Clarkson: 'I Am Not a Bullshi**er'

Yes, that's what Kelly Clarkson says she told music mogul Clive Davis in her interview in the August issue of Blender magazine:

"[I told Davis] I don't know you very well, and I am not a bullshi**er. I get [that] you don't like the album. You're 80; you're not supposed to like my album.

"I literally got told to my face that it wouldn't sell more than 600,000 copies. And I got lied to. One reason I don't like working with people at the label is that they lie. ... If you're going with the flow and not fighting, that's settling. I can't take that. Life is just too short to be a pushover."

The singer, whose new CD, "My December," sold 291,000 copies in its first week of release, says she was offered $10 million from executives at her record labels RCA and Sony BMG to record new tracks, because they feared her own songwriting might not generate as many hits as her two previous releases.

But Clarkson declined because she insists her music isn't meant to appeal to the label bosses -- whom she brands as members of the older generation.

Of the 60 songs Clarkson wrote for "My December," she had to narrow the scope to the 13 that went together the best. "These songs fit together and tell a story. I've never had an album that is cohesive and tells a story from beginning to end, so this is a first time for me," she said.

And Clarkson acknowledges that the new album may be an artistic step in a new direction. "It's a different chapter in my life," she said. "And it's got a lot of ups and downs. It's definitely an emotional roller coaster of an album."

... Meanwhile, says that Simon Cowell has urged Clarkson to end her war of words with record boss Davis because he knows better than her.

Cowell feels the singer would be unwise to continue the feud and advises, "Kiss and make up, decide what's best, get on with it! Clive Davis, at 80, is better than 99 per cent of the people in the music business in their 20s, 30s and 40s. And he's not 80, he's less than 80. [Clarkson] is one of the best and she always will be, [but Clive] is the boss of the record company... It's his job to advise."

... And Kelly is also very direct about Davis in her interview with USA Weekend in its cover story that runs this weekend. Here is the content:

Kelly Clarkson hustles down her long driveway and opens the broken gate to her Spanish-style villa. She's on the phone, talking animatedly to a friend about wanting to see the newest "Pirates of the Caribbean." As she ushers you inside her impressive digs, the first thing you notice are piles of clothes strewn all over the dining room table.

After blockbuster success as America's first and most successful "American Idol," Clarkson, 25, is taking an unscheduled break. She talked to us in a revealing interview on the eve of the release of her controversial record, "My December."

For the first time since she skyrocketed to stardom in 2002, the Grammy-winning star is risking it all with a new album that some of the best in the business, namely RCA record chief Clive Davis, warned her not to make. Although she and producer Davis are on good terms publicly, that does not seem to be the case behind the scenes.

"I'm going to be real honest with you: I am not a fan," the singer says of the record mogul. "I do respect him, but I don't want to barbecue with him. We don't braid each other's hair. And, despite the rumors, he is nowhere near a father figure."

Clarkson's much-publicized decision to rebel against music's vaunted star-maker and record an album that he didn't like has proved dicey, at best. Many are asking if the pop rock queen has been dethroned after negative buzz and weak advance sales forced her to cancel her 36-city summer tour.

Clarkson is the first to admit she's having mixed results getting it all right. She is candid as she opens up for the very first time about both her fight with Davis and a meltdown she says she had last year when she learned her boyfriend was cheating on her.

Her tough time started with, what else, a breakup with a guy. "My standards were low," she says, "because I was lonely.

"I met this musician, not a famous musician -- he doesn't even deserve to be named -- and I thought he was totally into me," she continues. "And then you find out, oh God, that he had this whole other relationship on the side, and that he is only dating you to get into pictures and to become famous."

[A little hint on the ex's identity can possibly be found in the Blender article, which says she doesn't mince words when asked about her ex-boyfriend and former keyboardist for group Evanescence, David Hodges, who co-wrote and co-produced Clarkson's hit "Because of You":

"[He] got engaged the day we broke up. I didn't even really like the guy. I'm more mad at myself for being so blind. Why would I pick someone like him to date? What's wrong with me?"]

That breakup added to the stress of a grueling tour for her hit second album, "Breakaway," two bouts of pneumonia, and a rash of friends getting married and having babies, which unearthed a lot of old ideas about how she should be living her life. All of it sent her into a tailspin.

Clarkson eases into a brown leather sofa and throws her head back. "I didn't know what was wrong with me," she says. "I was like, 'I'm not happy. Maybe I'm a little depressed, and I don't want to say anything, because then people are going to say, 'Why are you unhappy?'

"Everything caught up with me in a bad way," she explains. "My body was wearing down, and my emotions were wearing down. I was trying to get over someone. I hadn't seen my friends and family for a while, and it was becoming a nuisance [to see them] because I was so busy. I was traveling, and then there was more added to the schedule. It just got chaotic. I was 24, and that is pretty young to be the boss of so much. And it caught up with me. I couldn't smile. I couldn't do anything. I broke down. I cried so much I couldn't speak. I was that tired. I was drained. I didn't want to act, didn't want to smile -- I didn't want to pretend. I just broke. ... It was the lowest point of my life and my career."

The singer went home to Texas for three months to regroup. She turned to friends and family members and talked often to her mother, who now lives in North Carolina. "It was a really hard time for her," says her mom, Jeanne Taylor, 55. "She would call me, and all she wanted to do was cry and talk. I tried to explain to her that this happens sometimes."

Reba McEntire, who had become a friend after Clarkson did a guest-spot on her TV sitcom, became another source of support. "I spent time with her," Clarkson says, "and saw that she takes time off and hangs with her family and takes mini-vacations. I learned that I'm not lazy if I do that."

During this dark period, Clarkson began to write the songs that would become her new album, "My December." "It was free therapy," she says with a smirk. In January, she delivered the album to Davis, who reportedly hated it and delayed its release, stirring a heated controversy about its fate.

But Clarkson asserts her confidence about the future. "I used to live paycheck to paycheck," she says, as she props her feet on a table and laughs. "Now I am set for life."

Still, even in the glare, Clarkson seems to have avoided the pitfalls of other famous 20-somethings. It's almost ironic that she lives so close, just 2 miles from Hollywood Boulevard, where Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton famously haunted the nights. You've never heard about her going to jail or getting into a car crash and fleeing the scene, or shaving her head.

"I'm not into the whole scene," says Clarkson, who isn't wearing makeup and has her hair pulled haphazardly into a tortoise-shell clip. "I almost pity them. Some of their parents are afraid to punish them because that is where their livelihood is. So the parents can't be parents, or they can be, but they are too scared."

Thinking for a moment, she shakes her head. "I work with my brother Jason, and he keeps me in line," she says. "My mom would be the first to let me know: 'Dude, what are you doing?'"

Clarkson grew up in Burleson, Texas, which she insists helped her navigate the 20s, when so many people are lost and searching for what makes them happy. "I went through my awkward junior high school age, I went to high school, I went to the prom without being in the spotlight," she says. "Many of the kids in the industry didn't have that. They have no basis for a normal life. They are in the fast lane, and they do not know how to cope with it."

Not that she's a saint. She admits that she has tried marijuana -- but only in a cookie. Ever since, she has been "oregano-free."

"It was in Amsterdam," she says. "It is legal there, and it is not legal here. I don't ever do anything illegal here. I have never smoked anything in my life. I've never tried any drugs. I wouldn't do anything that would cause holes in your brain or your nasal cavity. Call me Texan, but I don't think of marijuana like that. I don't understand people who drink too much. I think, 'Why do you drink so much? It just adds calories.' "

Calories have been an issue for Clarkson. After her appearance on "American Idol" in May, all the talk was about her weight. But in a tight gray T-shirt and black jeans, she looks like a normal, healthy young woman. Despite her recent admission that she was bulimic in high school, Clarkson says, "I have never been to a point where I have been so unhappy that I have said to myself: 'Oh God, you are fat!'

"I don't allow myself to go there. I know when I am unhappy with myself -- and then I am like, 'Wow, stop eating so many cookies [and her other favorites, cake and pumpkin pie] and get on the treadmill!'"

SIMON COWELL NOW JUDGING REAL DOGS reports that Simon Cowell is judging a dog show for charity. Cowell will give his verdict on important categories such as "The Waggiest Tail" at the The Royal Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals (RSPCA) fete in Brighton, southern England this Sunday.

It is the third year in a row he has attended the fete after his mother, who helps out at the local dog shelter, asked for his help. A source says, "Simon is devoted to his mother and when she asked him to help the open day attract more visitors, he did it originally to please her. But he has now become a patron of the shelter."

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