Creative confidence

Published May 19, 2007

Kelly Clarkson says the media is exaggerating reports that she and music mogul Clive Davis clashed over her upcoming CD, My December.

"You know what it is: This situation is just blown up, " she said. "This record is no different from my other records. Every record I've come out with, people have not liked."

The Grammy-winning pop star and original American Idol is signed to RCA Records, one of the labels Davis controls as chairman and CEO of BMG Label Group. She has been dogged by recent reports that Davis hated songs on her third album.

Clarkson, 25, who called the disc "really cool" and versatile, said artist-label disagreement - a reality in the music business - can be healthy.

"There's always this battle, and it's not a bad battle to have, " she said. "I mean, you obviously don't want 'yes' people around you. And, obviously, (Davis) and others at the label have been in the business far longer than I have. So you obviously take their opinions in."

In the end, though, "I always go with my gut, " she said. "My gut has obviously done pretty well for me thus far, so I don't see why I shouldn't keep listening to it."

My December is scheduled for release on June 26. Clarkson will visit nearly 40 U.S. and Canadian cities on her upcoming tour, set to open July 7 with the Live Earth concert at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The tour will end in Las Vegas in September.

"My whole goal is not just to sell millions of records, " she said. "My whole goal is to have people like my music, come out to shows. That's basically it. I'm pretty low-key."

Produced by David Kahne, who has guided new wave rockers from the Bangles to the Strokes, and written almost entirely by Clarkson with several members of her touring band, My December features revered punk bassist Mike Watt on several tracks and stresses Clarkson's avenging-angel vocals. The up-tempo songs, with unpretty titles such as Hole and Judas, spruce up the pop-metal template with sharp guitar riffs and the occasional electro-clash beat. But it's not rock, Clarkson said. "Rock, to me, is like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith."

On My December Clarkson presents herself as a hot young inheritor of the arena rock stage; next time, she might go country-blues. Clarkson described her latest effort as a step in an ongoing process. "I'll always come out with a different record, " she said. The songs she's writing for the next album are more down-home and dirty. "But I don't necessarily want to make just a country record, " she said. "I'd rather do something like the Rolling Stones - tie in everything."

The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.