Celebritology Clip n' Save: A Little Help for Kelly Clarkson
Back in 2002, Kelly Clarkson was the first in a new breed of pop stars -- a bona fide minted-by-us "American Idol." Six seasons later, the "Idol" market is awash with wannabe singers foisted on a public saturated with Hudsons and Picklers and Aikens, oh my. You know it's tough when "soul patroller" Taylor Hicks is headlining bars in Dewey Beach, Del.
Kelly Clarkson was different, though. She actually caught fire. Her name worked its way into household ubiquity and was given the pop culture stamp of approval when it was screamed as an epithet by "The 40-Year-Old Virgin's" Steve Carrell. She won Grammy awards and Billboard Awards and People's Choice Awards and even Radio Disney's coveted "Best Sleepover Song" award for "Since U Been Gone." And, most importantly, clawed her way into the U.S. pop charts with seven top 10 hits, making her a bankable investment for the recording industry.
Today, as Clarkson releases her latest album, the singer finds herself facing harsh reviews, an unsupportive record label and an indifferent public. What's an Idol to do?
Luckily, armchair celebrity adviser Lisa Todorovich and I are on hand to guide this surprisingly likeable popster back to the top of the charts.
1. You've been down before. Remember "From Justin to Kelly?" You know how to transcend the corporate image-making machine and career missteps. Surprise us.
2. In the end "American Idol" is little more than a tarted up "Star Search." Take a lesson from one-time "Star Search" contestants like Christina Aguilera, Drew Carey, Jessica Simpson, LeAnn Rimes, Justin Timberlake and Dave Chappelle who would rather we didn't know they were ever within 100 feet of Ed McMahon. Bottom line: Do not join this summer's "Idol" tour. You want to be sharing a stage with Sanjaya?
4. Pick yourself up. If Whitney Houston can contemplate a comeback from being a cracked-out harpy, you can weather a few harsh reviews.
5. Things are looking dire and it's the perfect time for reality show vultures to start circling (think: "Being Kelly Clarkson: My Life at the Bottom of the Billboard 100"). Three words: Just say no.
6. Motivate your fan-base. According to some intrepid journo who braved some Internet fan forums, your core audience is loving your new album. Go viral on them. Podcast, blog, myspace (yes, we're using it as a verb) like a pro! Take a lesson from Wilco, who released Yankee Hotel Foxtrot online when the record company balked.
7. So you admitted you have some weight issues. Who doesn't, sister? Stay strong. We think you're hot and girls need a realistically shaped role model.
9. Figure out who you are. Are you a pop star? A rocker? An R&B diva? Maybe you can be all of the above, eventually. But first, make an indelible mark on one genre.
10. Concentrate on the positive: You're not in jail or rehab, you wear underwear and, as far as we know, have never even met Kevin Federline.
This is one in a series of self-help articles aimed at mentoring wayward celebrities.
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