Kelly Clarkson Slams Clive Davis: 'I Refuse to Be Bullied'
The "American Idol" season one winner responds to the industry vet who she claims is spreading "false information" in his just-released memoir.
Kelly Clarkson is striking back at music industry legend Clive Davis, who divulges the source of long-festering acrimony with the American Idol season one winner in his new memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life.
In his book, out Tuesday, 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 Grammy for her fifth set, 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 writes. “I refuse to be bullied and 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 says, is that she shed tears when recording “Since U Been Gone” with Max Martin and Dr. Luke.
“First, he says I burst into 'hysterical sobbing' in his office when he demanded 'Since U Been Gone' be on my album,” Clarkson writes. “Not true at all. His stories and songs are mixed up. 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 insists, when discussing “Because of You,” a song she wrote that Davis did not want on the album. “Because of You” ended up being 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 release, "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 fewer copies that its successor, All I Ever Wanted). Hardly a huge failure. 'Never Again, the ONLY single they released in the U.S. from that record was a Top 10 hit. I am very proud of that and I have my fans to thank,” she defends.
Clarkson does blame Davis for torpedoing the record at a music industry event before it came out.
“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 notes. “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 in The Soundtrack of My Life: "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…"
Read additional 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. … RCA was having an international convention in New York that I would be addressing. … I played the songs. … On the basis of those two songs, Kelly had been prioritized for massive worldwide success.
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… I said, … ‘I had to use a lot for personal leverage and persuasiveness to get those songs for you… You are going to be the top international priority. Why? Because of “Since U Been Gone’ and ‘Behind These Hazel Eyes.’ I beg of you to understand the bigger picture here. Your first two singles must have tempo, must have drive, and must have edge. Consequently, I can’t take them off the album. I just can’t.’
It was a very tough conversation, and it didn’t get any easier when Kelly burst into hysterical sobbing. We all just sat there as she cried for several minutes. No one knew what to say. Then she left to go to the ladies’ room. When she came back the tension in the room was thick… ‘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 bee 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. Both Steve Ferrara and I loved the song and the record from the first listen and felt that it delivered on the promise that Kelly could indeed write hits… 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...
"[Kelly got a new manager, Jeff Kwatinetz… 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 Jeff… ‘We don’t have the hits here that you said we have.’ I explained that I was heading back to New York with the album and would play it for… Richard, Peter, and Steve, they agreed with me. The only song with any significant chart potential was ‘Never Again.’…
“The album, it turns out, was about Kelly’s breakup with David Hodges… and to my ears the songs were predominantly dreary. I told Jeff, who, after all, had only recently become Kelly’s manager, ‘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…
“I flew to Los Angeles and the two of us met at my bungalow for a couple of hours. This time I was very direct. ‘I’ve got to give you my honest reaction,’ I said… ‘More than eighty percent of the artists I work with write their own material. I don’t submit outside songs to Alicia Keys. I don’t submit outside songs to the Foo Fighters. If you were Patti Smith we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. But we’ve got so much at stake here, and it’s my job to put up cautionary flags when I see trouble ahead. You’re following up a giant worldwide album, and your entire arena tour will be in instant jeopardy if you don’t come out of the gate with big hits.’ I brought up the example of Pink… when she thought she was a rock artist… She said ‘I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t care if I make any money. I don’t need that much money to live’…
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…"
Worth noting: While Clarkson says that after "Never Again," there were no more singles released off that album, and Davis says there were three more -- neither statement is a correct. "Sober" was the second and only other U.S. single, charting at No. 110.