The drama never stops for Kelly Clarkson. According to Entertainment Weekly, Kelly fired her manager last night.
That would be Jeff Kwatinez, CEO of The Firm, who was said to have an Executive Producer credit on Kelly’s beleaguered soon to drop album “My December.”
A very public battle has been waged between Kelly and her label over the content of her album. Kelly and her band wrote the songs, but apparently, when BMG CEO Clive Davis heard the finished product, he did not like what he heard, but green-lighted the album anyway.
Kelly has taken her plight to the media, describing struggles with the label as she tried to take risks with her 3rd album (thanks schmanda), set to be released June 25. In a recent Elle magazine interview, Kelly bemoans the fact that she’s, “sold more than 15 million records worldwide, and still nobody listens to what I have to say. Because I’m 25 and a woman.”
In the Elle article, Kwatinez appears as Kelly’s advocate. He says, “The label didn’t even acknowledge her ASCAP awards. It’s upsetting. They don’t want her to be a songwriter. They just want her to shut up and sing. They want her to stay their little American Idol.”
Clive Davis’s response has been to take subtle swipes at her. During his intermidable American Idol album “report card” speech during the finale, he barely mentioned Kelly, while he praised Carrie Underwood and the songwriters responsible for her success.
Roger Friedman of Fox news initially poo-pooed the rumors of tension between Kelly and her label:
… rumors have circulated on the Internet that Davis has been naysaying Clarkson …My December album for odd reasons ‘ that she wrote her own songs and didnt take advice from her leader.
This is either some kind of urban myth that started outside the label or a PR stunt from within ‘ maybe designed to show Clarkson is a bit of a rebel, an “American Idol” with an edge.
Then Friedman enthused:
Expect Clarkson …My December to be one of summer few bright spots sales-wise when it hits stores June 26. The one track I really want to hear of the 14 is called …Chivas. It sure to “scotch” all the rumors!”
Interestingly, within the space of 7 short days, Friedman not only abruptly changed his tune, but misquoted himself:
I told you the other day that Davis is happy enough to release “My December” even though he has misgivings about it. Clarkson, never before a songwriter, refused to use professional collaborators this time around. She wrote all the songs with her band members against the advice of her label and Davis.
Uh, Roger, that’s not what you said at all….but I digress:
But the real friction may not be between Clarkson and Davis, but between Clarkson manager, Jeff Kwatinetz, of The Firm, and the label.
It was only this past weekend that RCA learned Kwatinetz is being listed by Clarkson as …executive producer of the album.
He goes on to do a mini-review of the album based on a few snippets posted at AOL. His conclusion?
Even though …My December isnt ready for press copies, three of its songs can be heard on AOL (all of its lyrics are available, too). None of them has the bright catchy pop hooks of Clarkson previous hits like …Since U Been Gone.
On track after track, it clear that Kelly had a bad break-up with someone. But not being a skilled lyricist, her broken heart comes off as unsympathetic and a little childish. Someone should have given her a crash course in Carly Simon or Joni Mitchell to see how poetic justice is truly meted out.
Track after track? you heard 3 songs there, Roger. So, what do you think kids? Is Friedman schizophrenic or Clive’s Mindless Mouthpiece? We Report, You Decide! Heh.
In the Entertainment Weekly article, sources place the blame squarely on Kwatinetz:
‘He exacerbated a thermonuclear situation, ” says one source close to the situation. ”Jeff did everything he could to control Kelly and her career suffered. He should have steered her in the right direction.”
And there are hints that the album might be pulled back for some retooling:
In fact, another source suggests that the album, if it hasn’t made its way to the pressing plant yet, may actually get shelved so that Clarkson and her label, headed by music legend Clive Davis, can reconsider some of the tracks. ”It’s not too late, ” says the source. ”The label was supportive of Kelly in terms of putting the song out, but this album can’t flop. She needs to get the right advice and counsel.”
Did Kelly get cold feet after her first single “Never Again” performed poorly on the charts? The Elle article came out this week, and there are plenty of dishy quotes from both Kelly and Kwatinetz that surely ruffled the feathers of the label suits. Who knows, maybe the blow back from the article made Kelly think that attempting to take on the big boys was a mistake.
More will be revealed, I’m sure, as the saga continues to play out…