Kelly Clarkson couldn’t feel stronger about many things, including her belief in the power of TV’s singing competitions.
Riding high on the charts with her single “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” — currently No. 9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 — the two-time Grammy recipient and original winner of FOX’s “American Idol” has been a mentor on NBC’s “The Voice.” Now, she’s ready to be both an adviser and a partner to aspiring stars on ABC’s “Duets,” premiering Thursday, May 24.
“It’s been a misunderstanding that everybody always thinks I’m trying to get away” from such contests, the friendly Clarkson tells Zap2it. “I’m super-proud of how I got in the business, especially a business where there’s a lack of funds there used to be. There’s no artist development anymore; if you don’t make it right off the bat with a No. 1 hit, labels drop you.
“I don’t think that; I know that,” Clarkson insists. “I have friends that’s happened to. This is a great way to get into the business. You’re on national television and you’re in people’s houses, and if people like you, you have a fan base even before you have a record out.”
Clarkson also appreciates that both “American Idol” and “Duets” put singers to the test in a variety of genres. “It’s just a cool thing to be able to showcase different styles and not be pigeonholed, like most artists are. Whether it’s country or pop or rock, I don’t think it’s that difficult for people to grasp that with me, because they got to see me sing so many different things on ‘Idol.’
“I think that’s what really draws me to shows like this,” Clarkson adds. “People are always like, ‘Aw, man, when are they gonna die out?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, they’re gonna die out when y’all stop watching ’em!’ And no one stops, because people like to be entertained.”
Celebrating a birthday this week (“I’m 30, and I’m excited, because my 20s were hard”), Clarkson admits she hasn’t kept up with “American Idol” this season: “I just got off a tour and went straight into doing stuff for ‘Duets,’ and my schedule is really busy because ‘Stronger’ is doing so well. And I’m in a new relationship, and when that happens, all your time goes into that. I haven’t seen even one episode, but I hear it’s a great season.”
Named the first “American Idol” 10 years ago, Clarkson is happy to lead her “Duets” partners by example. “That’s what I’m excited about for these kids,” she confirms, “not just my two [proteges], but everybody on the show. You can totally make a career out of this, if you’re willing to put the work in.
“I really focus on working with people who are good people. I want to live a good life and make good choices, and you really have to work at that. It’s easy to make bad ones.”