Ten Kelly Clarkson Songs That Could Have Been Written About Clive Davis

_kellyclarkson.jpg
After reading her gutsy open letter to Clive Davis that fought back against some of the hurtful accusations he made against her in his new memoir, it's fun to repurpose some of her feistiest lyrics as a career-long diatribe against the legendary but stifling mogul. Presented in no particular and leaving out her debut Thankful, which came before Kelly sought creative control, here's a look at some of the Idol's strongest and well-written declarations of self-empowerment.

See also: Kelly Clarkson Says Clive Davis Lied About Her Career In His New Memoir

More »

Radio Hits One: Kelly Clarkson, Lionel Richie And Countrified Pop Tunes

radiohitsone_july23.jpg
After Kelly Clarkson went to No. 1 on Billboard's Country Songs chart last year with the Jason Aldean duet "Don't You Wanna Stay," I wondered hopefully if the Texas-born pop star would finally go country with her next album. So I was a little disappointed a few months later, when she debuted the bland "Mr. Know It All" as the lead single from her fourth album, Stronger. But months after the song came and went as a moderate Hot 100 success (it peaked at No. 10) and was supplanted on pop airwaves by the chart-topping follow-up "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)," something happened that made my initial reaction quite ironic: "Mr. Know It All" was remixed as a country song. It peaked at No. 21 on Country Songs earlier this month, and cable country music networks have the video in heavy rotation—the same video VH1 was airing six months ago, with a new audio track dubbed in.

"Mr. Know It All" seems like an odd candidate for the country treatment in many ways. Brett James, a country songwriter who's penned hits for Kenny Chesney and Carrie Underwood, had a hand in the original, but he was just one member of a large team of writers and producers dominated by writer Ester Dean and producer Brian Kennedy, who've both worked on chart-topping Rihanna singles and a bevy of other R&B hits. Country has always placed a high value on big emotional ballads and carefully crafted lyrics; this is a strident midtempo song with the painfully vapid opening couplet, "Mr. Know It All, you think you know it all/ but you don't really know it all, ain't it something, y'all?" Perhaps it was simply the presence of "y'all" that marked the song for country crossover potential.

More »

Radio Hits One: Dan Wilson, Linda Perry, And Other Pop Footnotes Turned Hitmakers

semisonicadele.jpg
Dan Wilson's hits, then (left) and now.
It's a familiar scene to anyone who's seen VH1 programs like Behind The Music or Where Are They Now?, or the channel's endless lists of 'one-hit wonders' of the '80s and '90s: a musician whose brief fling with stardom is well behind them sits at the mixing desk of a studio, while the voiceover details that they're moving into production or songwriting, to help guide new talent. It usually feels like an unconvincing cliche, like an actor saying "But what I really want to do is direct."

I thought back to those scenes when the Dixie Chicks won Song of the Year at the 2007 Grammys for "Not Ready To Make Nice," and a familiar face got to accept the award with them: Dan Wilson, who less than a decade earlier had enjoyed fleeting fame as the frontman of Semisonic. Their 1998 single "Closing Time" reached No. 11 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart (which means it would've been a top 40 hit, if Billboard had allowed songs without a physical single onto the Hot 100 at the time), but none of the band's other singles were remotely as successful. So when Semisonic broke up just one album later, it'd be reasonable to assume Wilson too would disappear; instead Wilson scored big, first with the Dixie Chicks, and then with three songs on Adele's blockbuster album 21, including the chart-topper "Someone Like You."

More »

Five Cover Songs To Take You Into Your Weekend

gregdulli_leonardcohen.jpg
Greg Dulli covers Leonard Cohen. (I know!!!)
Antony's heartwrenching take on "Crazy In Love" last night capped off a week where cover songs were seemingly dropping into my lap on a daily basis. Why not take time out of your schedule to enjoy them now?

More »

Miss Independent: Why Kelly Clarkson's Ron Paul Endorsement Makes Complete Sense

kellyclarkson_microphone.jpg
For those people who adore Kelly Clarkson and hate Ron Paul supporters, the inaugural American Idol's Wednesday night endorsement of Paul's presidential candidacy was especially painful. The move might have been merely confusing in years past, when Paul was a web-specific phenomenon—the equivalent of Carrie Underwood using a ragecomic as her next album cover, or Perez Hilton having a record label—but the recent exposure of Paul's startlingly racist and homophobic newsletters from the 1980s shifted Kelly's gung-ho Paulophilia from quirky to offensive. It turned out that Clarkson (apparently honestly) didn't know about Paul's issues, but the course of excusing her endorsement raised a host of other problems. The resulting Twitfit played out like a weird kind of crossover special, including a co-sign from Michelle Branch, a sullen @-reply to music critic Matt Cibula, and Clarkson's revelation that she is a pro-Obama Republican. The stormy response was heartening, if also predictable (what books will Ron Paul supporters recommend I read in responses to this post? Leave your answer in the comments!), and both Clarkson's and Branch's responses to the criticism—that whether or not Paul was prejudiced, they certainly weren't—were helpful little distillations of the issues inherent in collectively supporting a presidential candidate who doesn't believe in doing things collectively.

In retrospect, though, the endorsement makes a depressing amount of sense, and not just because Clarkson and Paul are fellow Texans. For all the supposedly progressive politics of rock and pop, the structure of the business is incredibly entrepreneurial, with musicians required to front a remarkable amount of their own money for instruments, travel, and recording before they see any sort of return on their investment. There's no large-scale structure that can provide steady employment (and health insurance) while nurturing innovation, just a produce-or-die ethos that receives no subsidies or grants. In America, at least, one of the few areas of life in which government really does have minimal involvement is pop music.

More »

Underwhelmed And Overstimulated, Part III: Occupying The Year Of The Woman Cliché In Hopes Of Blowing It Up

kanyeoccupywallstreet_video.jpg
Kanye West at Occupy Wall Street; confused woman.
Sound of the City's year-end roundtable, with contributions from Tom Ewing, Eric Harvey, Maura Johnston, Nick Murray, and Katherine St. Asaph, continues. Follow along here.

Hello all, and thanks! I'm honored to be here. Let's talk about the collapse of the global economy.

Or rather, let's not; as tempting as it is to link early 2011's glut of apocalyptic dance or late 2011's druggy numbness to financial panic or cultural malaise, you'd have to glibly ignore 99% of both music and the cultural moment. Even the arguments that almost worked didn't, like the reductive meme that Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne was just about being rich, not about the experience of being black and having become rich. And speaking of the 99%, it's far too soon to anoint any Occupy Wall Street anthem. (Sorry, Jonah, Miley's track is just a fanvid.) There's been music on the ground, of course, and there's an album coming out, but it's telling (of my now-bastardized Google Reader feed, if nothing else) that my main associations between music and Occupy are three things: the Radiohead non-concert that turned out to be a new-media bro's prank, the musicians whose Zuccotti cameos were probably out of good intent but in practice indistinguishable from photo ops, and the albums in Occupy's library, which was seized after the NYPD raids—alas, the cloud couldn't save it.

Nor can megastars—they're too busy mythologizing themselves to survive in lieu of those megasales. There are exceptions; candor in interviews and mega-megasales aside, you can't really call Adele a "celebrity," at least not using that term. (Contrary to rockist belief, this is not a selling point.) But take Rihanna, who's wearing herself out being better at this sort of thing than anyone else. Icky news stories? Out-ick them on Twitter! Gossip cackling about Chris Brown? Tease it in the "We Found Love" video! Moral guardians carping about being too sexy? Send racks of raunch down the Talk That Talk assembly line!

More »

Live: VH1 Brings Out The Divas At The Hammerstein Ballroom

vh1divas_ckmseb.jpg
via VH1
VH1 Divas Celebrates Soul
Hammerstein Ballroom
Sunday, December 18

Better than: Whatever Ryan Seacrest is going to cook up for VH1 Soul.

Last night's VH1 Divas taping existed both as a performance and self-contained, 24-hours-out advertising opportunity for its broadcast. (Tonight at 9 ET!) TV tapings are always strange to experience first-hand, given the way they're designed for after-the-fact consumption; there are lots of long lulls in the action for the purposes of commercial breaking/set redesigning, and in "let's all get together and put on a show" scenarios like this one there are TelePrompTers with lyrics ready to assist the under-rehearsed. Despite the breaks and assists, though, this taping didn't have the hermetically sealed feeling of ones I attended during the pre-social-media era—people were encouraged to tweet and Foursquare check-in and let their pals on social media know what they were experiencing via corporately provided hashtag. In the 21st century, after all, all publicity is.

The night's bent toward soul meant that most of the acts on the bill had pipes and cred—Chaka Khan, Mavis Staples, Martha Reeves, and Wanda Jackson represented for the pre-music-video era, while the likes of Kelly Clarkson, Ledisi, Jill Scott, and Jennifer Hudson were among the new-schoolers. Jessie J's tireless, apparently unending promotional campaign also continued here; her new party trick involves her stuttering out words instead of singing them in toto, a tic that serves to both illuminate the bleatiness of her voice and make her seem even more malleable and annoying. She's the opposite of a diva, her jet-black-dyed artifice doing a miserable job of covering up the void within; I expect either a turn to Christian rock or the "mysterious" leak of a sex tape within the next 12 months.

More »

Live: Lady Gaga Is Z100's Homecoming Queen At The Jingle Ball

gagajingleball.jpg
Z100 Jingle Ball: Lady Gaga, Pitbull, David Guetta, Kelly Clarkson, LMFAO, Gym Class Heroes, Demi Lovato, Foster The People, and Hot Chelle Rae w/Karmin, The Script
Madison Square Garden
Friday, December 9

Better than: A lump of coal and a "Firework" CD single.

To begin, let's run down a few key numbers related to the 2011 installment of Z100's Jingle Ball. Friday night's pop extravaganza had 11 sets; 32 full songs; five medleys; two point five holiday-themed songs; two encores; one Coldplay video; one Kardashian; and one member of LMFAO on the disabled list. Things that were present in abundance, so I didn't keep tallies: Screaming; festive attire; between-song ads; shout-outs to New York City.

I begin with statistics, because what is Z100—the East Coast top-40 flagship of the Clear Channel monolith—but a celebration of numbers? At the night's outset, Elvis Duran, host of the morning show, declared, "When you hear a song played on Z100, you know it's a hit." The artists atop the Jingle Ball's bill, with their ability to be reduced to one name—Gaga, Pitbull, Guetta, Kelly, all of whom have spent the month performing atop other Jingle Balls in other cities—bore this theory out in a sense; their sets, brief but longer than those earlier in the evening, contained only "hits," songs that might not have been familiar by title but that were sing-alongable within the first verse.

More »

Live-Blogging The 2011 American Music Awards: We Could Have Had It All (But Then Adele Had To Go Have A Vocal Cord Hemorrhage)

bieberama2010.jpg
via ABC
Justin Bieber at last year's American Music Awards.
Welcome to Sound of the City's liveblog of the 2011 American Music Awards, the annual salute to the most popular popular music that exists in the American wild this year. While Lady Gaga and Adele and Beyoncé are absent, this year's show apparently has one performance that will cost $500,000 to pull off, as well as a David Guetta/Nicki Minaj outing that is heavy—heavy in the weight sense, not in the "societal import" sense because c'mon we're talking about King Of Eurogloss David Guetta here—and appearances by Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Katy (sigh) Perry, Kelly Clarkson, and other notables from the Hot 100. Come join us for the next three hours, won't you?

More »

Kelly Clarkson's Seven Best Cover Songs

kellyclarksonmay26_500.jpg
Bryan Horowitz
In this week's Voice I talked about the new album by Kelly Clarkson, inaugural American Idol and the pop star who seems most likely to be a rip-roaring time at a coffee klatsch/Tupperware party/gathering of pals. The show that put her on the map, of course, is known for putting its contestants through the wringer of American popular music from the 1950s to the present, and despite having a boatload of recorded material now Clarkson continues to pay homage to that history; her shows are dotted with covers that speak pretty well to her genre-agnostic vibe, and show off how her voice—whether it's powering through a key-change-heavy bit of late-period Aerosmith or evoking the slow burn of Annie Lennox—is one of the best in the biz. Seven standouts from her repertoire below.

More »

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...