DFW Music News

Sony's Kesha Story Doesn't Stand Up to Kelly Clarkson's Blackmail Comments

By now we're all well aware of singer Kesha's nightmarish battle to free herself from the man she says drugged and raped her. But new comments from Burleson star Kelly Clarkson may be even more damning, not only for her accused rapist, Dr. Luke, but for Sony Music as well.

"I only worked with him because literally I was blackmailed by my label," Clarkson said in a recent interview with Australian radio station KIIS 1065. Clarkson first collaborated with the alleged rapist, Dr. Luke, on her 2004 hit, "Since U Been Gone," which went to No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. "They were like, 'We will not put your album out if you don't do this.'"
That scenario doesn't exactly fit with how Sony, the parent company that oversees both Kesha and Clarkson's record contracts, has tried to characterize itself amidst the allegations. After the outpouring of support for Kesha that followed last month's ruling, the company effectively pleaded mea culpa due to Kesha's contract with Dr. Luke's label, Kemosabe Records, which is a subsidiary of Sony.

"Sony has made it possible for Kesha to record without any connection, involvement or interaction with Luke whatsoever, but Sony is not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha," Scott A. Edelman, a lawyer representing Sony, told The New York Times last month. "Sony is doing everything it can to support the artist in these circumstances," he added, "but is legally unable to terminate the contract to which it is not a party."

Sony's rationale wasn't popular with everyone to begin with, but Clarkson's comments add a new twist to the story. True, Kesha's allegations against Dr. Luke came a decade after he and Clarkson cut their first single together. At the time, Dr. Luke wasn't an established name; "Since U Been Gone" was his first major hit. The following year he signed Kesha to Kemosabe, and four years after that she joined RCA, officially making her part of the Sony family.

But if Sony has an out with Kesha in saying she has an independent contract with Dr. Luke, then its "blackmailing" Clarkson into working with him makes the company look much less like an innocent bystander β€” particularly given that Clarkson says her later collaborations with Dr. Luke, including 2009 single "My Life Would Suck Without You," were also forced on her by the label.

Tossing around such accusations isn't something Clarkson would appear to take lightly, either. She'd remained silent on the matter before this weekend, save for a tweet last month where she said, "Trying 2 not say anything since I can't say anything nice about a person... so this is me not talking about Dr. Luke."
Clarkson clarified in the interview with KIIS that she had not experienced any sexual assault or harassment from Dr. Luke, but she did air her opinions on his character. "He's kind of difficult to work with; kind of demeaning," she said. "Obviously, he’s a talented dude. He just lied a lot. I've run into a couple of really bad situations.

"Unfortunately, when you have that poor of character – so many artists don't like you and don't like working with you – that's not normal," Clarkson added. "I get along with everyone I work with, but he's just not a good guy for me."

Sony Music has not responded publicly to Clarkson's comments. A spokesperson for Dr. Luke, meanwhile, offered up Sony Music chief Clive Davis' account of Luke and Clarkson's relationship from his 2013 autobiography, The Soundtrack of My Life, which predates Kesha's rape allegations by more than a year and a half.

DFW talent seems to be drawn to this controversy. Last month, when a judge denied the pop star an injunction to be released from her contract with her alleged attacker, Dallas native Demi Lovato took to Twitter to voice her support for Kesha. She also slammed Taylor Swift, sparking a war of words over who is being more supportive.

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Jeff Gage
Contact: Jeff Gage