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Kelly Clarkson Hates Dr. Luke So Much, She Refused Sharing Songwriting Credit With Him

We’ve been covering the ongoing Kesha/Dr. Luke legal battle, in which Kesha alleges years of rape and mental/emotional abuse at the hands of her longtime producer. However, Kelly Clarkson not only revealed her personal distaste for Dr. Luke in a recent interview, but illuminated how the music industry silences its women.

In a recent interview with the radio station Z100 in New York, Clarkson talks about her new album, her job on The Voice, and her feelings about American Idol. About nine minutes into the interview, Mo’ Bounce asks her about her experience creating her 2009 #1 hit, “My Life Would Suck Without You.” You can watch the interview here:

When Kesha is brought up, Clarkson talks about the fact that she’d had bad experiences with Dr. Luke herself, though she made it clear that “He didn’t do anything like that with me,” referring to Kesha’s charges against him. Still, it’s clear from her tone that whatever her experience with him, it was not great.

It was so not-great, in fact, that when she was working on her 2009 album, All I Ever Wanted, she specifically asked not to work with him. In the Z100 interview, she says:

“Basically, they were gonna sit on my record unless I did what they wanted. I was so frustrated because I literally said, ‘Anyone in the world but this one person. I will work with anyone you want to put in my path.’ I love people. I think that’s apparent. I think I’m a nice person, that’s apparent. It was just this one thing, and I asked not to work with Dr. Luke just because I had not a good experience with him. If an artist like me, I generally love everyone. You have to really be a special kind of … for me not to like you.”

And just as Sony forced Kesha to work with this guy who allegedly abused her, despite her clear desperation, they held Clarkson’s record hostage even though Dr. Luke was literally the only person she wouldn’t work with.

So Dr. Luke, along with Max Martin, Claude Kelly (whom Clarkson professes to love working with) and Clarkson herself wrote “My Life Would Suck Without You,” but when RCA (Clarkson’s label, owned by Sony) approached her about giving her a songwriting credit, she refused. Clarkson explained to Z100:

“There’s a lot of times in my career where you don’t see my name on the song and that’s because sometimes I don’t write them,” she explained. “A lot of times I do change the song in a way that probably you should ask for credit, but I don’t because the song was already great — I just made it more me. I think a lot of artists steal credit a lot from writers, which I think is super crappy ’cause that’s their livelihood. If I deserve it, I usually ask. And I did deserve it on that song just ’cause I changed it a bit.”

She then goes on to talk about how she refused the writing credit, despite the fact that it would cost her money. Indeed, the song went to #1, and not having the writing credit has cost her “hundreds of thousands of dollars…or millions” in royalties. But she did that because she wanted to show both Sony and others in the industry just how much she was coerced into working with Dr. Luke, and how little importance she places on the fact that his songwriting/producing makes money.

“I was making a point to the people working with me,” she says. “Going, ‘This is how much I didn’t want to do this.’ I don’t care about the money. I don’t care about, oh, ‘You’re going to be the most famous person ever if you do this.’ That’s not what holds weight in my life.”

Indeed, what seems to hold weight in her life is doing whatever it’s in her power to do to not work with a misogynist and alleged abuser, and when she’s forced to, to ensure that her integrity stays in tact and that she is making a clear statement that this was not her choice, and that she refuses to profit from a partnership with him.

What’s particularly enraging to me is that this seems to be a habit in the music industry in general, and at Sony specifically. The music industry has never been kind to its talent, and most performers are worked to the bone before they ever see a dime for their labors, despite their studio-appointed appearances.

However, its young women who bear a disproportionate brunt of that kind of industry abuse, with predatory male executives and producers literally claiming ownership over their young, female talent. And so, it’s heartening to see someone with Clarkson’s clear talent and visibility talking about making stands like this.

Hopefully others will follow suit. Even moreso, I hope that things like this inspire other performers, and even the labels and companies themselves not to shelter “talented” men that their female colleagues charge with abuse. Suddenly, I want to stock up on Kelly Clarkson music. And more of Kesha’s new jams, of course.

(via Billboard, image: screencap)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former Mary Sue assistant editor from 2015-18. Teresa's returned to play in the TMS sandbox as a freelancer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.