"American Idol" is already off to a soap-opera-like start.
On Tuesday, before the first episode of the fifth season aired featuring a not-so-"Idol"-like singer mishandling "Since U Been Gone," word spread that first-season winner Kelly Clarkson had not cleared the songs from her second album, Breakaway, for use on the show.
That prompted an attack from judge Simon Cowell. "No matter how talented Kelly Clarkson is, she would not be in the position she's in now without winning this show," he told reporters Tuesday. "It's the public who bothered to pick up the phone to vote for her. If she refuses to give songs to be used on the show, it's like saying to every person who voted for you, 'You know what? Thank you. I'm not interested in you anymore.' "
On Wednesday afternoon (January 18), however, Clarkson's spokesperson announced that she will be clearing them.
"Kelly Clarkson was happy to hear her song 'Since U Been Gone' on 'American Idol' last night," her spokesperson said in a statement. "As far as she is concerned, there is no conflict between her and the TV show. She intended all along to license additional material to the show and will do so when asked and within reason."
Spokespeople for "Idol" and FOX did not return calls as of press time.
Licensing songs for television can be a complicated and costly business, but "Idol" has simplified the process by offering the same amount for the rights to all songs sung on the show. If a publisher turns down the offer, the contestants simply must choose from cleared material.
"Rock Star: INXS," on the contrary, spent big bucks last summer for the rights to songs by artists such as the Doors and the Beatles.
"If we paid millions for the Beatles, it just wouldn't be fair," executive producer Nigel Lythgoe told MTV News last week. "That budget has gone up each year, but we can't pay anyone more."
Lythgoe said sometimes publishers have been against letting an amateur possibly butcher one of their songs in front of an audience of millions and he understands that, at least until the top singers are competing.
"Once we get into the finals, we say, 'You've heard this guy sing, we'd love to do "New York State of Mind," ' " he explained. "We send Billy [Joel] his voice and then see what happens."
For more on "American Idol," check out the feature " 'American Idol': 10 Reasons To Watch Again."
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[This story was originally published at 4:52 p.m. EST]