Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Pop Gone Wrong: Kelly Clarkson, Off the Air and Hindered by Poor Choices, Sees New Album “Chemistry” Fizzle


What should have been a big deal for Kelly Clarkson has gone very wrong.

Armed with a hit talk show, and massive good will from fans, a new Clarkson album should have been a huge hit. After all, she came to TV with a string of top 40 hits including “Since U Been Gone” and “Stronger.” And no one has more potential exposure.

But “Chemistry” in its second week of sales has fallen completely off the top 50. Last week it debuted at number 6 with around 52,000 copies sold. This past week “Chemistry” fizzled, posting the equivalent of maybe 23,000 copies sold. On the Luminate chart, streaming plus sales now bring the total to a measly 75,000.

The album is dead. Radio isn’t playing the songs, and actually streaming numbers from Spotify are minimal.

There are maybe myriad reasons for this failure, but two come to mind. One, Clarkson and her label, Atlantic Records, probably counted on Kelly being on TV daily through July sweeps where she could promote the album on her show. But the writers’ strike killed that. “The Kelly Clarkson Show” has been in reruns for two months. Without the show — or late night shows where she could have shined — Clarkson went on an odd social media tour singing “spontaneously” in subway stations and parks making viral videos that made no sense.

Second, the album is just not good. “Chemistry” lacks any potential singles. It’s a collection of complaints against Clarkson’s ex husband. He was probably a rat, but no one wants to hear a dozen whiny songs about him. Clarkson’s rich voice — so gorgeous singing cover hits on her show — is replaced by a thin wail. Alright, she had to pay him big bucks. But one song would have been sufficient. Three or four power pop hits would have reimbursed her. (Maybe had “Chemistry” been a country album, the “I kicked you to the curb” theme would have worked.)

I said this last week: she’d be better off putting together an album of cover songs and have it ready when the strike is over and her show makes its season debut. “Chemistry” is a formula that just didn’t solve her problems.

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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