First 'Idol' returns to show to launch album, movie
By Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY
She's anything but idle. Kelly Clarkson, the victor in American Idol's inaugural season, is busily wrapping up her first album, due April 15, and movie, out April 25.
She'll plug both with a live rendition of Anytime on tonight's return to the launch pad (8 ET/PT on Fox). The song, to be featured in the movie and her album, is not the designated single, which hasn't been picked yet. (Related item: See full Idol coverage.)
With the album's release only four weeks away, the contents remain in flux. At an RCA meeting on Thursday, the choice for a single was narrowed to two tunes, one a ballad and the other uptempo. As soon as a decision is reached this week, the song will be shipped to radio stations and Clarkson will begin shooting a video.
Though Clarkson, 20, impressed viewers with interpretations of familiar pop tunes, her album contains no covers, and the sole song co-written by the Texas singer may not make the cut. Despite an absence of duets, the collection, tentatively titled Kelly Clarkson, is more a team effort than a solo debut. Among numerous collaborators are songwriter Diane Warren, producer Shep Crawford, producer/songwriter Rhett Lawrence and production teams Sturken & Rogers and The Underdogs.
The recording process has been supervised by RCA chief and renowned hitmaker Clive Davis, label talent scout Steve Ferrera and American Idol creator Simon Fuller of 19 Entertainment. Fuller is also Clarkson's manager.
Ten days after the CD hits shelves, Clarkson hits theaters in a "beach-meets-Grease" musical, From Justin to Kelly, co-starring Idol runner-up Justin Guarini. He's recording a debut album expected in May or June.
Clarkson's recording career got off to a roaring start with A Moment Like This, which reached No. 1 in October after entering the Billboard chart two weeks earlier at No. 60. Moment, the top-selling single of 2002, with sales to date of 612,000 copies, may be left off the final track listing.
A publicity blizzard will boost awareness of Clarkson's album, yet experts say she'll need to back up the hype with substance to avoid a typical one-hit wonder encore: the vanishing act.
Some industry observers speculated that Clarkson's post-Idol glow might fade before she delivered on the promise of her exalted title. Others say postponing the album, originally slated for Nov. 26, may have been a wise strategy.
"The record company must have realized that a good album can't be made in two or three weeks," says Geoff Mayfield, Billboard's director of charts. "There's been a real good game plan in place for this show from soup to nuts. Everything's clicked. I can't think of a stone to turn over that they haven't already thought of."
Clarkson's return engagement on tonight's Idol "is a nice homecoming and absolutely smart," Mayfield says. "I would not bet against this franchise yet. I was skeptical about ratings the second time around, but they're more handsome than during the summer. So far, the public has shown a mighty appetite for everything associated with American Idol, so we'll have to give Kelly Clarkson the benefit of the doubt."