Saturday, April 13, 2024

Kelly Clarkson Releases Tuneless, Unforgiving Dark Divorce Album Comparing Ex Husband to Tragic Movie Star Rock Hudson


Not since Marvin Gaye released his “Here My Dear” album in the late 70s has anyone been able to top him.

But now Kelly Clarkson has dropped “Chemistry,” a divorce album that should have been called “Vendetta.” The cover features her as Jesus on the cross, so you know up front what’s coming, and it won’t be good.

Clarkson had a nasty breakup with husband Brandon Blackstock, father of her two children. She wound up paying a lot of money to get rid of him after he broke her heart on a number of fronts. Now we get to hear all about it on “Chemistry,” a dark, unpleasant album that twists Clarkson’s tremendous voice until it’s shrieking.

Did we need this? (Apparently not. The first track is called “Skip this Part,” and believe me, you’ll want to.)

The song everyone is talking about this morning is called “Rock Hudson.” Clarkson compares Blackstock to the closeted gay movie star who died of AIDS. She says in interviews today that she didn’t mean the song to have that connotation, just that Blackstock was her “hero” in the movie of her life. But the damage is done. There were plenty of movie star names to choose from. This was one is specific.

Years ago, Clarkson ran afoul of music mogul Clive Davis when she turned in an album full of tuneless warbling. It was her third release, called “My December,” and featured a terrible single called “Never Again,” which was a flop. Initial sales — and this was before streaming and Clarkson’s TV show — were slow. It took 10 years for the album to sell 800,000 copies. And she wound up leaving RCA Records for Atlantic Records.

“Chemistry” debuts at number 1 this morning on iTunes. But there are no singles for radio play, and so far only one — “Lighthouse” — a shrieker– has made it to 31. Other songs with titles like “Me, “Mine,” “High Road” — which she didn’t take, “My Mistake,” and so on, all cover the same territory. It’s what we call “on the nose.” There’s no allusion or imagery. It’s just “I hate you.” In fact, there’s a track at the end — the only good one– called “I Hate Love” with Steve Martin on banjo.

It’s too bad Clarkson wasted her high profile from her talk show, and her insanely good voice– on this nonsense. She could have had a summer of hits just releasing album of her “Kelly-oke” covers from the show. Or she could have worked with Atlantic’s Pete Ganbarg — who steered her to hits on RCA — to come up with some great pop songs like “Since U Been Gone.” But the only audience for “Chemistry” is the Glenn Close character from “Fatal Attraction.” And we know what happened to her.
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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