Another datapoint for the “Culture of the Amateur” argument? Or just a reflection of what it is to come to the industry from “American Idol?” Kelly Clarkson stuck to her guns for her new album. She may have misfired — pdf
Kelly Clarkson’s current career meltdown is a study in the tricky politics of the music business. On one side of the aisle: a young singing star who wants to take the artistic reins from her seasoned handler. On the other side: the seasoned handler, Sony BMG chief Clive Davis , who wants his cash cow to keep cranking out the hits. The knee-jerk response: damn the suit, who values profit over art and would keep a budding songstress down in order to keep his revenue stream flowing.
But it’s more complicated than that.
[...] So, what if the handler is right? Much as we love to demonize the executives as the root of all evil — corporate henchmen who rip off the talent and the fans — some of them are real music people. Davis is one of them. A 40-year industry veteran, he’s guided of some of music’s premier artists: Janis Joplin, Santana, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith, Whitney Houston, and Alicia Keys. Clarkson’s first two albums were models of mainstream pop-rock — driving and youthful but also catchy and accessible. Both were executive-produced by Davis.
Quality artistry and big sales aren’t mutually exclusive; look no further than Clarkson’s career so far, and Davis’s track record, for proof. But Clarkson’s priorities have shifted. Writing this album on the heels of a rough spell in her life that included a painful breakup, it wasn’t songs or sales she was concerned with, but self-expression.
[...] Clarkson is releasing the album she wanted, and deserved, to make. It may or may not be a hit. I’m a Kelly Clarkson fan; I’ve listened to four of her new songs online and don’t love any of them. The most depressing part of all this isn’t witnessing the proverbial collision of Art and Commerce. It’s admitting — after cheering her declaration of autonomy and defending her right to self-expression — that Clarkson may be better at singing songs than writing them. And that sometimes the pop machine works exactly the way it’s supposed to.