Kelly Clarkson’s third album My December released today

Kelly Clarkson, the original American Idol winner, releases her third album today. My December, which she called “more intense” than her previous records, and said that her label thought it was “too negative,” features songs that Kelly either wrote or co-wrote.

The CD is being released amid a lot of negative attention. Besides canceling her summer tour and firing her manager, the head of Kelly’s record label, Clive Davis, didn’t bother to mention her or the new album on Idol‘s sixth-season finale, apparently because he wasn’t happy with it.

But The Boston Herald’s Christopher John Treacy says “Clive Davis is an old fogy” who “was too quick to dismiss the CD,” which he says “accomplishes several difficult tasks” and “more than half her new songs actually match that power.” The New York Times’ Kelefa Sanneh says the “melancholy is welcome, as it was before; what’s missing is the sense of fun that turned her old hits … into karaoke favorites,” and adds that there are “melodies that sometimes sound cramped and repetitive.” And Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Willman says it is “darker, more personal, riskier” and that “Clarkson’s most vulnerable moments are accomplished and affecting,” but also says the album “unleashes some lighter pleasures that … would make dandy warm-weather singles.”

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.

A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.