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Simon Cowell voices in on Kelly Clarkson, Clive Davis album dispute

By Christopher Rocchio, 05/21/2007 

Differing opinions on the content of "My December," Kelly Clarkson's upcoming third album, became a point of contention between the original American Idol winner and Clive Davis, the chairman of her record label RCA.  For Simon Cowell, who judged Clarkson on Idol but is also employed by Sony BMG -- RCA's parent company -- it's not so black and white as to who's right or wrong in the dispute.

"It's a very difficult one this one because I can see both sides of the argument," explained Cowell to reporters during a conference call on Friday.  "From Clive's side of the fence, he's there to be completely honest with Kelly and say, 'I need to choose the best material for you' -- and that's what he's helped her do over the past few years -- 'and I'd like you to record that song or that song.'  And then from Kelly's standpoint, she's basically saying, 'At some stage I've got to make my own decisions.  This is the record I want to make, and that's it.'  I'm sort of stuck slightly in the middle here."

Clarkson either wrote or co-wrote every one of the 14 tracks on "My December," which she finished recording in January but won't be released by RCA until July 24.  The reasoning behind its delay, according to Entertainment Weekly's summer music preview, was because Davis "sat" on "My December" for four months hoping Clarkson would use the same producers who helped her craft 2004's "Breakaway," which won a 2006 Grammy for best pop vocal album and has since sold 10 million copies.  However Clarkson held her ground and made "My December" the album she wanted it to be.

"The label was like, 'It's just too negative.' I'm like, 'Well, I'm sorry I've inconvenienced you with my life.' No, it doesn't say, 'I'm happy, I'm with a boy and having so much fun.' But it's reality," explained Clarkson to Entertainment Weekly.  "We all go through situations for certain reasons, and I think we should share that."

Apparently, Clarkson wasn't the only one who noticed RCA was putting the screws to her in the hopes she'd do what the label wanted.

"The pressure they put on this young woman to compromise herself and do another version of the same record, I've never witnessed in my career," her manager Jeff Kwatinetz told Entertainment Weekly.

Cowell said he's "heard parts of" Clarkson's third album, which was enough for him to form an opinion on it.

"It's not as commercial, certainly as her last record," Cowell told reporters.  "But any Kelly Clarkson record at the moment is a pretty good record compared to the competition because she's an incredible artist.  But I think at some stage of someone's career you've got to give them a little freedom to do what they want to do.  And if it works fantastic, and if it doesn't, you go back to Plan B... Kelly Clarkson is not an artist who's in it for the money.  She's got a lot of integrity, and this is a record she wants to make, and I admire her for that."

He added you have to trust the artist, especially someone like Clarkson, who has sustained success despite an ever-changing music industry.

"Kelly is not a puppet; she does not like to be told what to do. She made it absolutely clear that she wanted to steer the musical direction on this record," Cowell told Entertainment Weekly.  "You just gotta say, 'You know what? This girl has given us millions and millions of sales.' You've got to give her that opportunity. She's not a girl who got lucky in a talent competition; we got lucky to find her."

Rather than creating cookie-cutter pop, Clarkson described "My December" as something that's personal to her and she's excited at the opportunity it has to showcase her talents as a songwriter.

"The whole album is a story of the past two years, all the highs and lows," Clarkson recently told Entertainment Weekly.  "It deals with so many situations, whether it's family, friends, relationships, or myself."

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