By New Times
By Derek Askey
By Mark Deming
By Serene Dominic
By Jason Keil
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Jeff Moses
By Serene Dominic
Kelly Clarkson is pissed. After she took creative control on My December, her label decided that shipping a million copies and hitting number two on the Billboard charts wasn't quite good enough. Then they forced her back into the studio with the poppiest songwriters they could find. To make it worse, they stuck her with schlock artist Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, who said he was trying to make the album sound like Garbage and Mozart. WTF?
Then, she heard Beyoncé's "Halo," which turned out to be basically exactly the same as "Already Gone," a Tedder-written song she had just included on an album that was already being pressed. Then she found out Tedder had written "Halo," too. After realizing her label was about to make an ass of her, she pleaded to keep the track from being released as a single.
Then they released it.
Tedder, meanwhile, was defending the integrity of his work, calling the tracks "two entirely different songs conceptually, melodically, and lyrically." He's right, except that they sound exactly the same. Halo 2 was a great idea for a video game; why not a pop song?
After a few interviews in which she made it clear exactly how she felt — "The record company can do whatever they want with it. It's kind of a shitty situation, but, you know, you learn" — American Idol's shiniest star has been quieter than usual. Not so many interviews. Not so many talk shows. Not so many anything.
But let's be honest here: There's no reason to hide under a rock. After all, it's not like this is the only song on the album that suffers from this problem.
"My Life Would Suck Without You" is essentially the same song as "Since U Been Gone," a tune I'm pretty sure she's heard before. Then there's "Long Shot," with verses that sound like every Trans-Siberian Orchestra song ever written.
And "Natural Woman," a bonus track from her first album, sounds suspiciously similar to a certain Aretha Franklin hit.
And, really, she's an American Idol champion. She's famous exactly because she knows how to make other people's songs better. That's her thing. So cool your jets, Kelly. Because whatever you think about what the fans may think about your musical integrity, the truth is that we love you, and that outside the hallowed halls of Sony/RCA, the America where you used to live doesn't actually give a shit about ethical songwriting practices.
You want to rip someone off? Do it. You want to cover "Respect"? Whatevs. You want to re-release Like a Prayer, but with your name Photoshopped on top of Madonna's? Go ahead: You're Kelly Clarkson, you're cute, you act like you're down-to-earth when you do interviews with People magazine, and you sing like the Greek goddess of angst. That's why we love you.
That's why we don't mind that your song titles look like you texted them to us, or that you wanted the Red Sox to win the World Series, or that you totally ripped off a few of your songs. Or more than a few. Or most of them. You're our best girl, and we love you.