Results for Kelly Clarkson

reviews
My DecemberMy December available on iTunes

Kelly Clarkson My December

On June 14, Live Nation, or the concert promoters formerly known as Clear Channel canceled American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson's first nationwide arena tour due to“lackluster ticket sales.”This event, combined with the firing of her manager and the anticipation of the release of her third album My December has made for a dramatic couple of weeks for the singer. Clive Davis, the music mogul responsible for signing a ton of hit acts ranging from Whitney Houston to Barry Manilow to the Notorious B.I.G., has been overseeing the careers of Clarkson and all the Idol products thus far. But, much to the chagrin of Davis and her label RCA, Clarkson took My December as an opportunity to do her own songwriting and drift away from the guaranteed success of hit-makers like "Since You've Been Gone" scribe Max Martin. Jim and Greg commentate ringside for the blow by blow between America's first pop princess and the pop recording legend. Listening to the album, Greg cannot understand the controversy surrounding the album's pop potential, finding it reminiscent of a post-Dave Coulier Alanis Morrisette. Jim, on the other hand, thanks Clive Davis for trying to spare us the torment of this record. He thinks Clarkson is“at the level of a sub-par Midwestern bar band.”Greg gives it a Burn It, and Jim gives it a triple Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 82
All I Ever WantedAll I Ever Wanted available on iTunes

Kelly Clarkson All I Ever Wanted

America's first“Idol”Kelly Clarkson has a new album out called All I Ever Wanted. Clarkson's last release was a stinker even by label head Clive Davis' standards, so this was her chance at redemption. Did she succeed? Jim likes a lot of feminist pop punk, but he's mystified by Kelly Clarkson's appeal. That said, half of this album is undeniably catchy pop rock. He has no use for the other half, however, which is full of soggy ballads. Jim gives the album a Try It. Greg can see why fans are taken with the singer. She has an endearing personality and a great voice. But her conservative production choices overshadow any good ideas Clarkson might be trying to get across. All I Ever Wanted is far from what Greg wants; he gives it a Trash It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 171
ColorsColors available on iTunes

Beck Colors

Beck won a surprise late career Album of the Year Grammy for his 2014 record Morning Phase. Now, he's back with his 13th album, Colors, co-produced by Adele and Kelly Clarkson collaborator Greg Kurstin. Although Beck constantly reinvented himself in the 1990s, Greg says that here, he's simply recycling his greatest pop moves of the past. Greg acknowledges that he still knows a great hook and continues to mix and match genres. Because it's so cheerful in comparison to the melancholy Morning Phase, Greg finds it difficult to dislike, but it still only merits a Try It. Jim, however, finds it a big improvement over the last record. While Beck isn‘t reinventing the wheel, he’s having fun with pastiches to The Police, Elliott Smith, and more. According to Jim, these songs are as good as any he's ever given us. He says Colors is a great party record and a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 621
rock doctors

David & Family

The Rock Doctors' patient this week is David from Minneapolis. David's“ailment”is that he has a tough time finding music that both he and his kids will enjoy. As the father of four boys between the ages of three months and 10 years, that's quite a challenge. So far he's had luck with The Decemberists, Earth, Wind and Fire and Sugar — basically anything with great pop vocals and harmonies, as well as a good beat for dancing. And of course, some of his sons have fallen under the spell of tween pop star Kelly Clarkson.

Greg's prescription is New Magnetic Wonder, the latest album from Apples in Stereo. The Robert Schneider-fronted band that emerged out of the Elephant 6 collective offers a perfect mix of sunny, exuberant vocals and sophisticated arrangements. Plus, as Greg explains, Schneider is just a big overgrown kid (something that listeners who heard his interview on Sound Opinions can attest to).

Jim prescribes a dose of Smash Mouth. A couple of years ago the California garage popsters, who Jim thinks of as the male equivalent of No Doubt, released a greatest hits album called All Star Smash Hits. Jim explains that, as a fan of garage rock, David will appreciate their edgy aesthetic and punk covers. In addition, his kids are certain to enjoy the more bubble gum aspects of Smash Mouth's music and covers of songs like "I'm a Believer" (which they might already know from the Shrek 2 soundtrack).

A week later David returns to the doctors to report on his health status. He relays to Greg that he and all his sons really enjoyed the Apples in Stereo. He describes the band's music as fun and upbeat, as well as weird and experimental. David's wife was another story, but these doctors only agreed to please five patients… six might be pushing it.

Smash Mouth was something the whole family could agree on, especially for road trips and casual listening. The six year old described it as "a lot like rock and roll." But, David and his boys found the Apples in Stereo to be“meatier”and more interesting. Perhaps we've got four young rock critics in the making!

Go to episode 76
news

Music News

First up in the news Jim and Greg discuss Joni Mitchell's decision to team up with Starbucks. Her first album in almost 10 years will be released on the coffee chain's Hear Music label. Jim and Greg imagine that the singer/songwriter must have been impressed with the success of Paul McCartney's recent Starbucks-released album Memory Almost Full, especially considering her notorious distaste of the music industry. One group they are surprised to hear has joined the coffee family is Sonic Youth. The alt-rockers will release a compilation on Hear Music next year.

Jim and Greg update some stories they've discussed on current shows. The first concerns pop star Kelly Clarkson. When her album My December was released a few weeks ago, our hosts talked about Clarkson's high-profile feud with BMG chairman Clive Davis. The singer appeared to be taking a tough-girl stance and defended her artistic integrity, but now she's trying to lay it all to rest. Check out her retraction.

Another topic Jim and Greg covered on the show is the scrutiny hip hop lyrics have been facing post-Imus. A recent victim is Chicago rapper Twista. McDonalds decided to pull the speed rapper from its Live Trek tour because of his“controversial lyrics.”Twista's response is that he's been making the same kind of rhymes for years, but no one cared until Don Imus said something negative about black women. He also added that he usually cleans up lyrics for kid-friendly performances.

While the gossip pages are filled with celebrities who aren't forced to pay for their crimes, singer Ron Isley is no such lucky star. He is slated to begin his five-year prison sentence for tax evasion next week, but Def Jam is hoping that Isley fans can convince the government otherwise. They sent out a petition imploring people to“call, fax or email the White House immediately to help the 64-year old cancer sufferer.”If you'd like to join in the effort you can call the President at (202) 456-1414, email him at president@whitehouse.gov, or contact the Congressional Black Caucus.

Last week Eric Clapton held the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Bridgeview, IL, and Greg was there to see the action. He recounts how historic it was to see Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton play together 38 years after Blind Faith disbanded. Greg's other highlights were witnessing B.B. King give what might be his final performance and hearing Jeff Beck do a beautiful rendition of The Beatles' "Day in the Life." Check out Greg's entire recap here.

Go to episode 88

Music News

When they looked back at the end of the last decade, Jim and Greg described American Idol as one of the only major juggernauts in the music industry. Now, only a couple of weeks later, it looks like that monolith is crumbling. Simon Cowell has announced plans to depart the show, which debuted last week, to launch a U.S. version of The X Factor. In addition to being a major part of Idol, Cowell was a force behind the career popularity of Susan Boyle and British X Factor Leona Lewis. Jim and Greg wonder if Idol will be able to produce another Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry or Carrie Underwood without Cowell. And, they wonder if X Factor will be the hit-maker to watch.

A world away from the American Idol business machine is a UK website called SlicethePie. Artists can use this site to get direct funding from fans, who in return receive a copy of the album, an exclusive relationship with the band, and possibly, a return on their investment. According to the site the standard deal is about a 16 cent return for every 1.63 invested per 1,000 albums sold. Now Slicethepie has announced its first real success story. U.K. rock act Scars on 45 has graduated from the fan-supported site to land a deal with Atlantic Records/Chop Shop Records. Chop Shop is run by Alexandra Patsavas, who supervised music on a number of Hollywood projects including Twilight, The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy. So, keep your ears open for Scars on 45 music the next time you tune into a primetime soap.

The 2009 numbers are officially in…but they aren't exactly clear. According to Nielsen SoundScan, overall music industry sales are up 2.1%. But as Jim and Greg explain, that's not necessarily worth celebrating. Album sales, which still account for the majority of revenue, are actually down 13%. What has gone up are digital music sales — and those don't add up. Of course, as Jim says, overhead with digital music is much, much lower. And, certain artists do have cause to break out the champagne, for example, Taylor Swift, who was the number one artist of 2009. She was followed by a phenom (Susan Boyle), and a recently departed (Michael Jackson). Michael Jackson wasn't the only posthumous winner. The number one selling album of the entire decade was by a group that stopped making music four decades ago: The Beatles.

Go to episode 216

Music News

Lately it seems like all the record industry can talk about is what to do about all the digital downloading out there. Now the Songwriters Association of Canada thinks it has a solution. They‘ve proposed to allow domestic consumers access to all recorded music available online in return for adding a $5 monthly fee to every wireless and Internet account in the country. The Canadian recording industry hasn’t responded favorably, but as SAC president Eddie Schwartz explains to Jim and Greg, it's the best way to compensate songwriters and musicians for the 50+ billion downloads that are expected to take place in 2008.

In other news American Idol Taylor Hicks has been dropped by his label, J Records. This comes shortly after the dismissal of former Idol runner-up Ruben Studdard. And, after a disappointing year for Kelly Clarkson, Jim and Greg wonder if the Idol effect is wearing off. Sure, both Chris Daughtry and Carrie Underwood had a very successful year, but as the new season of Idol kicks off, Sound Opinions H.Q. has to wonder —maybe this pop culture phenomenon should stick to television, where it belongs.

Radiohead's album In Rainbows went to number one this week after being initially released as a pick-your-own-price digital download. The band hasn't released any sales figures from their digital experiment, but another music giant has been less tight-lipped. Trent Reznor recently posted the download and sales numbers for The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, the Saul Williams album he produced and helped release. Reznor made the album available as a free, lower-quality download as well as a higher-quality download for $5. According to Reznor, over 150,000 people downloaded the album, but only 18% paid for it. While he was disheartened by the news, Jim and Greg think the situation fares well for Saul Williams, who previously never had such a large audience. Artists rarely get a large cut of record sales, and this kind of exposure will help Williams build a fan base for the bigger money-maker: touring.

Go to episode 111

Music News

Kelly & Justin After fifteen years on the air, "American Idol" is being voted off. The pop cultural juggernaut ruled the airwaves for years, producing stars like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Jennifer Hudson (along with plenty of forgettable "idols"). The show averaged 31.1 million viewers a week in 2006, but ratings during this final season are not even a third of that mark. Jim and Greg note the significance of “Idol,” but won‘t miss the overemotive style of singing it promoted. The show’s legacy, in any case, lives on in newer programs like "The Voice."

Go to episode 541

Music News

Unless you‘ve been hiding in a cave, it’s been impossible to escape "Hello," the new single from British singer Adele. It sold 1.11 million copies in its first week – only Elton John's "Candle in the Wind 1997" has ever sold more in a single week span. Adele is basically a music industry unto herself. In recent years, only Taylor Swift has come close in terms of sales.“Hello,”a 5-minute piano ballad, features production by Greg Kurstin, who has also worked with big names like Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson. It remains to be seen if Adele's new album takes her into uncharted territory, or is just a continuation of her previous work.

Tragedy struck a nightclub in Bucharest, Romania on October 30 when the metal band Goodbye to Gravity's stage pyrotechnics started a fire. 32 people died and hundreds were injured. This launched an unprecedented wave of protests against the perceived lax enforcement of laws, culminating in the resignation of Romanian Prime Minster Vincent Porta. This kind of tragedy has happened too frequently, including the deadly 2003 fire at a Great White concert in Rhode Island. Jim is dumbfounded that any band would still use fireworks at an indoor concert.

Go to episode 519

Music News

Jim and Greg have resisted talking about American Idol for quite a while, but this week this pop culture phenomenon couldn‘t be ignored. While these critics still don’t care about the musical impact of the show, they can't deny its significance in the industry. An average of 25 million people tuned in each week to see who would be declared the American Idol, commanding advertising rates that are only exceeded by the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. For the music industry, this means major sales. Past contestants like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Clay Aiken have sold 33 million records, and songs that appear on the show in any form immediately take off on the charts. Labels have taken note, sending aging artists like Rod Stewart, Queen and Barry Manilow, as well as fresher faces like Shakira, Mary J. Blige and Prince, to appear on the show. As much as both our hosts hope that audiences will decide to turn the dial toward something of better musical quality, Greg predicts that hipper acts in need of promotion will soon be calling up Fox. And until then, fans can look forward to much of the same.

Fans who purchased Sony CDs by artists like The Foo Fighters, The Coral, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra can rest easy. While those CDs may have infected your computer with a virus-like anti-piracy software called MediaMax, a judge has ordered Sony to make up for it. Every customer infected with the software will receive a cash payment of $7.50 and one free album download or three free song downloads. Whoever claims that the record industry doesn'y care about the consumer obviously missed this news.

Rumor has it that Sri Lanka-born, England-based rapper M.I.A. is being denied a visa to come to the United States. M.I.A., or Maya Arulpragasam, has plans to record with producer Timbaland, but may have to postpone them. Whether or not the denial is related to the fact that she is the daughter of a Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel, or the fact that many of her song lyrics are overtly political, is not known. What is known, however, is what a raw deal this is. While M.I.A., who has received masses of critical acclaim and was up for the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2005, will not be gracing Americans with her presence, our own Snoop Dogg has recently been barred from the U.K. Sound Opinions is willing to enter into diplomatic negotiations to work this out.

Go to episode 26

Music News

American Idol is currently on summer vacation, but they've still been making quite a bit of news. The pop music contest and music industry juggernaut has decided to take its business to Universal Music and away from Sony. In years past, the show's winners and runners-up released albums on Sony under the direction of powerhouse Clive Davis. Now it appears that Interscope executive Jimmy Iovine will become the new mentor. In addition, both Simon Cowell and Ellen DeGeneres are out as hosts. Kara DioGuardi may also be leaving. In their place? Possibly Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. And, since it's been years since Idol produced a Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson, hopefully these changes will mean more exciting winners as well.

It doesn't look like we can count on an “Iranian Idol” anytime soon. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made a strong statement against music this week, proclaiming that it is“not compatible”with the values of the Islamic republic. Many are seeing this as leading to an outright ban of music in Iran and an expression of Khamenei's long-held mistrust of Western cultural influence. As rock evangelists, this attitude toward music is, of course, disheartening to Jim and Greg. For more on rebel culture in Iran check out Marjane Satrapi graphic novel and film Persepolis and the Cannes winner No One Knows About Persian Cats.

Go to episode 245

Music News

The news starts with Front Line Management's lawsuit against Axl Rose. Front Line's founder and chief executive is Irving Azoff, who is also executive chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, which merged with Ticketmaster last month. Jim and Greg discuss the impact of such a lawsuit on an artist. Considering the mega-corporation controls ticketing, venues and many other aspects of the industry, they may not be one to tangle with. Also, they note that the lawsuit is over a breach of "oral contract." Who agrees to an oral contract these days? Especially with Axl Rose!

Jim and Greg discuss the yet again delayed emergence of Spotify in the U.S. The Internet music service, introduced in 2008 by Daniel Ek, has become one of the most popular of its kind in Europe with 7 million users. But despite rumors that it would come to the States this summer, Ek is still having trouble navigating our thick legal system. He wants Spotify to be legitimate, and that means a lot of licensing fees. But once it does hit our soil, Greg predicts big success.

It hit about 80 degrees this week in Chicago, and while it may snow again next week, we've got our eye on the summer. Jim and Greg run down some of the biggest music festivals of the season. First up is Coachella this month, which will feature Jay-Z, LCD Soundsystem and Faith No More among others. The following month, music fans can travel to Washington for the Sasquatch Festival to see My Morning Jacket, Kid Cudi and Ween. In June Bonnaroo will host the Dave Matthews Band, Stevie Wonder and Weezer. Two of the biggest festivals are right here in our hometown: Pitchfork Music Festival, which will boast a Pavement reunion, and Lollapalooza, which Greg can nearly confirm will have headliners Lady Gaga, Green Day, and a reunited Soundgarden. But, Jim points out that not all of the best multi-act concerts are destination festivals. Lilith Fair is back this year as a traveling women-fueled act with Mary J. Blige, Cat Power and Kelly Clarkson.

Go to episode 227

Music News

After the RIAA started to crackdown on the selling of mixtapes a few months ago, Universal Music has decided to sell legal, corporate sanctioned versions of the tradionally grassroots compilation. These "Lethal Squad Mixtapes," will sell for $5 to $6, but it's unclear whether there is a market for a series like this. Part of the appeal of mixtapes is that they are underground, and, as Greg notes, Universal is about as“street”as the next company they discuss in the news. Fellow corporate giant Walmart announced that it will sell DRM-free downloads at a lower price than competitor iTunes. Jim and Greg are surprised that the music industry would agree to sell their digital songs for lower prices, but Walmart is the world's largest retailer. Also, this fits into the big box store's M.O.: give consumers what they want at lower prices, even at the expense of other retailers.

Auto manufacturers such as Toyota's Scion brand, are planning on getting into the Internet radio business to provide special content to their drivers. Jim and Greg think this is an interesting move considering the recent hikes in webcasting royalty rates and their effect on small webcasters. And, this follows suit with Scion's attempt to establish a“cool”identity for itself. The Toyota brand was one of the few corporate sponsors of the Pitchfork Music Festival, and now they've tapped Vice Records and Ninja Tune Records to program their channel. But, despite this indie pedigree, Greg points out the reality: "You can't buy cool."

This summer's biggest blockbuster movie, Spiderman 3, racked up well over $300 million in the U.S. In fact, there were a number successful films that eclipsed the $300 million mark. The music industry, however, cannot boast such impressive figures. They were banking on big name releases from the likes of 50 Cent and Kelly Clarkson, but of those two, one got bumped, and the other tanked. The number one selling album of the year so far is from an American Idol rejectee Chris Daughtry, but that was actually a 2006 release. So, in light of these industry discrepancies, Jim and Greg wanted to invite New York Times music reporter Jeff Leeds on to the show to discuss the summer season. Jeff explains that movie studios have many sources of revenue from a film like Spiderman (DVDs, toys, etc), but record labels depend on a single revenue stream. Their only saving grace is concert sales; a live music experience, like a live movie screening, can't be replicated with a download. These three critics are curious to see what big fall releases have to offer.

Famed jazz percussionist Max Roach died last week at the age of 83. Roach was the last link to the Bebop era of jazz, but Jim and Greg explain that his love of music and his style of playing continually evolved. Greg explains that it's impossible to talk about rock drumming and hip hop without mentioning Roach. Unlike some jazz purists, the musician saw those contemporary forms as natural extensions of African music, like jazz. You can hear his unique style in the composition "Freedom Day," which also features vocals from his wife Abbey Lincoln.

Go to episode 91
world tours

Sweden

Jim and Greg have always insisted that rock ‘n’ roll belongs to the world. In our new series, the Sound Opinions World Tour, they prove it by zeroing in on countries that've made big contributions to global rock and pop. Their first stop is the largest exporter of music per capita in the world: Sweden. Swedish DJ and public radio host Stefan Wermelin is our guide through the country's musical history. Stefan explains that in the '50s and '60s, Sweden was a pop music backwater. Musicians churned out cut-rate covers of American and English hits. The '60s hippie“Progg”movement injected some originality and artistic ambition into Swedish music, but things didn't really change until ABBA hit it big with "Waterloo." According to Stefan, ABBA set the template for Swedish success. The band created big hits by co-opting the best bits of global pop music and stitching them together with meticulous production. That tradition of pastiche continues today with Swedish producers like Max Martin, the man behind a hundred-and-one Billboard Top Ten hits (Britney Spears' "…Baby One More Time" and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" among them). But today, Sweden's also experiencing an indie renaissance in genres as varied as death metal, dance music, and Americana. Decades after ABBA, artists like The Knife, Lykke Li, Robyn, Opeth, and First Aid Kit are staging a second Swedish invasion.

Go to episode 379