Feature: The Osbournes

By GARY GRAFF  |  Nov. 25, 2002 at 6:31 PM
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Sharon Osbourne may be expressing regret about turning her family into one of TV's hottest reality shows, but teenage daughter Kelly shares none of those misgivings.

"It's great exposure, and it gives me independence," says the 18-year-old Kelly, the middle of Sharon and hard rock singer Ozzy Osbourne's three children -- and the one with the most to gain from the face time on MTV's "The Osbournes."

On Tuesday, Nov. 26, -- coinciding with the start of the show's second season -- Kelly releases her first album, "Shut Up!," which has been preceded by the single and video for the title track. It follows her well-hyped cover of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach," which she performed on the TV show's companion CD "The Osbourne Family Album" as a stand-in for estranged older sister, Aimee.

She hadn't been planning to go into the family business (mom manages Ozzy and other artists), but now Kelly acknowledges she's been fully -- and happily -- bitten by the music bug.

"I was always singing around the house, and my dad was like, 'You should sing...," Kelly says. "But I was like, 'No, no, I don't want to do that...' I always thought celebrity was just for skinny puppet people; I didn't fall into those categories, so it was never anything I wanted to do.

"But when I went in and worked with the guys from Incubus on 'Papa Don't Preach,' I realized how much fun I had doing it and it kinda went from there. Once I started, I didn't want to stop."

As outspoken -- and as prone to fling the F-word -- as the rest of her family (sans Aimee, who's demurred from the show), Kelly worked on "Shut Up!" during the summer and early fall in New York City with a number of producers, including proven hitmaker Ric Wake. She co-wrote all but one of the album's 11 songs ("Papa Don't Preach" is a bonus track), and there were definitely parameters about the kind of music she wanted to make (upbeat and modern, but not poppy pabulum) and the kind of lyrics she felt comfortable singing.

"My songs might have the boy/crush thing in them, but none of them are about being in love or anything like that," explains Kelly, who grew up on a musical diet of the Clash, the Kinks, Blondie, David Bowie and T. Rex and now favors rock groups such as White Stripes and The Strokes.

"I'm 18 years old; I've never been in love. How can I write about something like that?"

Instead, the 10th grade drop-out -- who attended both public and private schools -- gives us songs such as the title track, which "is about school and teachers and my feeling toward being told what to do and always being told I was a failure and would never amount to anything."

On the more tender side is "More Than Life Itself," which was inspired by Sharon Osbourne's battle with colon cancer. Other tracks, such as "Disconnected" and "On Your Own," explore relationships with friends, which Kelly says have been inextricably changed by "The Osbournes'" massive popularity.

But she's quick to add that she hopes people don't think of her only as the foul-mouthed, hot-tempered teen who shows up for a half-hour each week on TV.

"One thing I've learned is if you're in a bad mood on the TV show, you'll be forever typecast as the bitch 'cause you had a bad day one day," Kelly notes. "I've learned how seriously people take that. And I'm just so tired of defending myself from the first series, let alone what's going to happen in the second series."

The new episodes of "The Osbournes" catch the family -- which also includes youngest Osbourne child, Jack, and family friend Robert Marcato, who was taken in after his mother died of cancer -- at home in California and in England. Sharon Osbourne's chemotherapy is shown; so are Kelly's preparations to perform "Papa Don't Preach" on the MTV Movie Awards.

While the second season airs, Kelly will be on the road to promote "Shut Up!," playing mostly at radio station holiday concerts. She's hoping to mount a full-scale concert tour next year, and her turn on "The Osbournes" has also brought some acting offers her way.

"Mostly they want me to be the Kelly from 'The Osbournes' character," she says, "but I've been offered good roles, too. There was one to play a cheerleader and another to play a junkie.

"It would be fun. I'd love to find the time to do it, but (the album) is keeping me so busy. It sucks sometimes, but it's the price you pay for being able to do what you want to do."

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