CMU Beef Of The Week #146: Kelly Clarkson v Clive Davis
By Andy Malt | Published on Friday 22 February 2013
Music mogul Clive Davis has had an interesting life. Currently Chief Creative Officer at Sony Music, he’s headed up the Columbia, RCA and Arista labels, as well as his own company, J Records. He’s also been heavily involved in the careers of artists such as Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Hudson, and most notably Whitney Houston. He should write a book about it.
Oh, he has. You probably knew that already. Most reports on his autobiography, ‘The Soundtrack Of My Life’, have concentrated on what he says about his sexuality. Well, they did, until another artist he worked particularly closely with, Kelly Clarkson, took issue with some of the things he’d said about her.
In a statement, distributed via Twitter, Clarkson said that she wanted to “clear up his memory lapses and misinformation”. First she addressed a claim that she had burst into “hysterical sobbing” when Davis “demanded” that she include ‘Since U Been Gone’ on her second album ‘Breakaway’. Far from it, she said, “his stories and songs are mixed up. I did want more guitars added to the original demo [of that track] 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”.
But the office-based crying was caused by a different song, she continued, explaining: “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 ‘shitty writer who should be grateful for the gifts that he bestows upon me’. 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 honoured 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”.
Moving on she addressed Davis’s evaluation of her third album ‘My December’, which he seemingly concludes was unsuccessful because she co-wrote it and thus it contained no “pop hits”. But, while it is Clarkson’s least successful long player to date, she noted: “‘My December’ went platinum. Hardly a huge failure. [And] ‘Never Again’, the ONLY single they released in the US from that record was a top ten hit”.
She continued: “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. It never had a chance to reach it’s 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”.
Such is the beauty of social media, Davis was also able to issue a speedy response via Twitter. He said: “As anyone who has read ‘The Soundtrack Of My Life’ knows, I think Kelly Clarkson is a tremendous vocal talent and performer. In the book, I provide an in-depth look at our years together during which we shared major multi-platinum success, as well as a few creative differences. I am truly very sorry that she has decided to take issue with what I know to be an accurate depiction of our time together”.
Stopping just short of saying “I am lawyered up to the hilt”, he added: “Before the book was published, I had every fact checked with five independent individuals who were present on a daily basis throughout it all. The chapter as it is written was thoroughly verified by each and every one of them. I stand by the chapter as written in my book. At the same time I wish, and will always wish, Kelly’s talent and her career to soar to ever new heights”.
So, there you go. In the book he also reveals that he had a beef with Bob Dylan, but Bob hasn’t said anything about that on Twitter.