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Is Kelly Clarkson The New Carrie Underwood?

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June was disastrous for Kelly Clarkson. By the end of the month, the first-ever American Idol champ was enthralled in a feud with her label boss, Clive Davis, her summer tour got cancelled due to poor ticket sales, she had her manager fired and her new album leaked. She became a black sheep faster than you can say "Katherine McPhee." Things got so bad, she considered a performance cameo on the American Idol season six arena tour just to right the ship.

Thankfully, July has arrived, and with it, a new management team. Nashville-based Starstruck Entertainment has taken the reigns to help guide Clarkson out of her career limbo, and it doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to guess which path they'll steer her toward ...

Clarkson recently admitted her desire to record a new album that was "country meets blues meets rock." Let's put the emphasis on "country," as the evidence is irrefutable. One look at Starstruck's galaxy of stars reveals the company manages an all-star lineup of country artists, from Toby Keith to Martina McBride to Jon Bon Jovi, who seems like he'll serve as the blueprint for Clarkson as she segues from pop star to cowgirl.

Reba McEntire, a fellow Starstruck client, likely is the catalyst for Clarkson's recent genre shift, and the roots for this transformation stem back to when Clarkson guest-starred on McEntire's sitcom, Reba. More recently, the duo performed together on CMT's Crossroads program and sang Clarkson's "Because of You" on an upcoming McEntire duets album. Further proof that McEntire is practically adopting Clarkson: McEntire's husband, Narvel Blackstock, owns Starstruck Entertainment, and will serve as Clarkson's manager.

So what's fueling Clarkson's country loving? While she is a Texas girl at heart, she has always displayed a preference toward rock & roll's angst. But with the megasuccess of Carrie Underwood, who is giving Clarkson a run for the Most Successful Idol title, Clarkson may be rethinking her career trajectory and plotting to aim her efforts toward the portion of the population that voted her to Idol gold in the first place: Middle America (which could also explain her work with NASCAR).

Clarkson's decision to hire management in Nashville as opposed to Los Angeles best suits these plans. So Underwood better watch her back, because Clarkson is coming to retake the throne.

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