Kelly Osbourne:'I am not a spoiled brat'

March 18, 2003


For anyone who's seen MTV's hit series "The Osbournes," it will come as no surprise to hear that the often purple-haired Kelly is rather ... outspoken in her opinions.

So what does the Osbournes' 18-year-old daughter think is the biggest misconception generated by the sudden fame of her televised family life?

"It's the spoiled brat thing," she says without a moment's hesitation (and in a petulant voice that recalls that of her famous mom, Sharon, the "iron maiden" of heavy-metal managers).

"It's in every 'Those spoiled brat teenagers, Kelly and Jack.' It's just something that somebody invented because they couldn't think of anything more intelligent to say."


Kelly's restraint in not cursing is admirable. But in this case (and unlike her monologues on TV), the added emphasis of the well-placed epithet isn't needed.

"Everyone builds up preconceptions and sticks to them because they don't want to actually spend time to see the person," she says.

Of course, fame has its upside: It is doubtful that Kelly would have ever recorded her debut album ("Shut Up," which was released by Epic Records last November) or that she'd be undertaking her first headlining tour (she performs here at the Vic Theatre on Thursday) if her last name was anything other than Osbourne, or if the most unlikely of the many unlikely "reality TV shows" hadn't had a phenomenally successful first season (followed by a slightly less stellar and less entertaining sophomore run).

Born in England in 1984, the youngest daughter of Sharon and rock legend Ozzy, Kelly Lee Osbourne was raised in hotel rooms across the United States and England as her father toured nonstop and built his bat-biting bad-boy solo career, occasionally reuniting with heavy-metal pioneers Black Sabbath in between. At age 12, she moved with her family to Los Angeles, and she's calling from there now in a room in the mansion familiar to millions thanks to MTV.

Not surprisingly, Kelly doesn't seem overly enamored of the task of "meeting" the press. She yawns into the phone, loudly and rather rudely, no fewer than half a dozen times during a late-afternoon conversation that lasts exactly 10 minutes (with the time limit strictly imposed by her publicist). With vaguely catchy, adequately hollered tunes such as "Disconnected," "Contradiction," and "Dig Me Out" (plus the goofy cover of Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach," which became a novelty hit and launched her career last June), "Shut Up" is a decent if unremarkable hard-rock effort. But Kelly and I both know that we wouldn't be talking (and she wouldn't be headlining at the Vic) if it wasn't for that surname.

It's to her credit that she doesn't seem overly impressed by the fame and hoopla.

"I'm really not, because I know that it can go at any second," she says in between yawns. "And I don't want to do this forever."

So what does this celebrated progeny see herself doing in five or 10 years?

"I don't know," she says. "I'm not one of those people who live for tomorrow. I live for today."

Fair enough. And Kelly is also honest about falling into her musical career.

"I had never done anything like this before," she says. "It was always something I thought I'd like to do, but I never thought it would really happen."

Like brother Jack (who dreams of starting a record company), Kelly is at least a genuine fan of good rock music. In her CD player right now are discs by up-and-comers the Stand, '70s glam-rockers T-Rex, emo-punks Jimmy Eat World, and the soundtrack to "Velvet Goldmine," she claims.

"Music has been a big part of my life since I've been born," she says. "Everything has always revolved around music because of my dad." As for her first personal musical find, "I remember discovering this album of old '50s songs that was called 'Rockin' Rabbit.' That's what made me love music. My dad had this old jukebox with like all the Michael Jackson singles and everything in it, but that album was what made me like music."

Epic claims that Kelly co-wrote most of the songs on her album. And unlike, say, Britney Spears, she apparently sings them onstage without undue electronic enhancement or the safety net of a trio of pitch-perfect backing vocalists. (She is fronting a tight five-piece band of two guitars, bass and drums.) But she differs from other teen-pop divas in more significant ways as well.

While Kelly has become a ubiquitous cover girl (gracing lavish spreads in People, Cosmo Girl, Seventeen and Interview, among many other mags), she has done it with her own unique style and a proudly defiant (I hesitate to say "bratty") attitude. In the process, she has offered a bolder, more individualistic and more rocking image to fellow teens.

"It definitely is a compliment, but it's also a burden," she says of her status as a role model. "It's nice to know that I can make a difference in someone's life." Though this, too, has its flip side. "I feel like a lot of people take advantage of certain situations: They're so quick to label. From one event they'll label you for the rest of your life."

Does she ever think she'll find herself wishing that people would just forget about that silly TV show?

"Of course," she says. "And no one will."

Only time will tell. Meanwhile, before she moves on to the next yawn-drenched 10-minute interview, she has one other thing to say to her critics, especially those who will now have the chance to critique her in the musical forum.

"People have the right to have their opinion on my performance, but they don't have the right to have an opinion on me as a person because they don't know me," Kelly says. "If they know me, that's great. But opinions are not the same as observations for judging character. And people don't really know me."

Spoken like a true brat, spoiled or not.