If you were on the internet in 2010, you may remember Greyson Chance as the 12-year-old singer who rose to fame seemingly overnight after his cover of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at his school’s talent show. Chance uploaded the video of his performance to YouTube, and it quickly went viral — today, it holds over 71 million views.
A few weeks later, Chance was invited by Ellen DeGeneres to perform on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. He made a second appearance on the show in May 2010, where DeGeneres announced she was signing Chance to her new record label, eleveneleven.
Today, 25-year-old Chance continues to make music under Sony Music Global and Arista Records — his most recent album, Palladium, came out Thursday. In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Chance opened up about his experience working under DeGeneres, who he described as “controlling” and “insanely manipulative.”
“This is the first time I’ve been honest about her, and this is the last time I want to talk about it,” Chance told Rolling Stone. “I’ve never met someone more manipulative, more self-centered, and more blatantly opportunistic than her.”
Chance compared working under DeGeneres as a child to having a “hidden eye” over his career. He said she would control everything, including what he wore — for example, she allegedly forbid him from wearing leather because it went against her beliefs as a vegan. “My whole week, my whole month, my whole year could change [with] one text message from her,” Chance said. “That was horrible. If she had an opinion of any sort, the whole thing changed. … She would come in and look at a rack, yell at stylists, berate people in front of me and say, ‘This is what you’re wearing on the show.'”
Chance explained that DeGeneres wanted him to basically follow in the career footsteps of Justin Bieber, who he was often compared to. He recalled an incident where the TV show host became angry with him for not watching an advanced copy of Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never documentary, then called his mother to berate her over it.
In 2012, Chance’s music and ticket sales began to underperform, and the record label dropped him, along with his publicist and management team. Then, Chance said, DeGeneres “completely abandoned” him. “I couldn’t get ahold of her. I couldn’t talk to her,” he said. “Whenever I would come on the show, it was such a fake smile. She wouldn’t even ask, ‘How are you doing? How are you holding up?’ It was just like, ‘Here’s what we’re going to talk about. We’ll see you on there.'”
Chance appeared on Ellen later in 2019 for a music performance and interview. He said DeGeneres did nothing to address the lack of communication on her end. “She came out during soundcheck and she looked at me, hugged me,” he recalled. “And she said, ‘How have you been?’ And that just killed me inside because I was like, ‘What do you mean how have I f*cking been? Where have you been?'”
During the 2019 interview, DeGeneres praised Chance for having come out as gay two years prior. However, the singer didn’t find her to be sincere and felt she was trying to take credit for his journey. “She had nothing to do with that. … [When I came out,] I hadn’t spoken to her in years,” he said. “That’s so messed up, that you’re now showing the world as if we’re so tight. We’re so good. And behind the scenes, you are this insanely manipulative person.”
Chance was invited back to Ellen earlier in 2022, but declined. He does, however, maintain a relationship with Lady Gaga, whom he says “has been there for [him] in the ways that Ellen never was.”
Ultimately, Chance said that, although he got his start under DeGeneres, he doesn’t owe his overall career success to her. “The first part of my career, I owe a lot of thanks to her and to that team,” he said. “But the reason why I’m here today talking about an album, I owe f*cking nothing to her. Because I was the one that had to pull myself up. She was nowhere to be found.”