Q&A: Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson seems like she’s always on a roll. With worldwide sales of more than 25 million albums and 36 million singles, Clarkson released her eighth studio album, Meaning of Life, to great acclaim in October and has broadened her appeal with different projects; she is a coach and mentor on The Voice and hosted this year’s Billboard Music Awards. I caught up with Clarkson as she prepares to return to Las Vegas for the annual star-studded iHeartRadio Music Festival Sept. 21-22 at T-Mobile Arena.
You were in Las Vegas in May to host the Billboard Music Awards. You were great and you also seemed like you were having a lot of fun.
I was really nervous. I’ve never hosted anything like that and I was really nervous about the opening because what am I going to do, make jokes? I’m not a comedian. But once we figured that part out, it was like, okay, this is easy and fun. I’m still a huge fan of music and it was so cool to see it from (that perspective), to see Khalid and Shawn Mendes backstage before they performed and stuff like that. I never get to see those shows. I’m always working and having four kids doesn’t leave time to do much, so it was really cool to be there and enjoy those performances and be supportive of those artists.
Do you see yourself doing more hosting duties?
I don’t know. People have been asking. I had a lot of fun and maybe I’d do the Billboards again since I know the team and it worked. But it just depends. With my schedule on The Voice, there’s a lot going on. But it’s a compliment that people keep asking.
Your competitor Brynn Cartelli won The Voice during your first season as a coach on the show. What was that experience like for you, considering your own experiences breaking through as a winner on American Idol?
It was pretty cool to win and rub that in Blake (Shelton)’s face since my husband (Brandon Blackstock) is his manager. When I signed on to do the show, the goal was to find someone younger, younger than I was, and be able to work with them and really give them the push and opportunity I had, and hopefully win with that person. And that literally happened, exactly how I asked the universe. And it’s awesome because now I’m working with her (Cartelli) on her record. It was incredible and it’s just really cool to invest in other artists.
She must have learned a lot from you.
I always say I’m super proud of where I come from because people voted for me to have a career. There was actual demand for it. I couldn’t be more proud of how I came into the industry. But I picked The Voice over Idol because of the chance to be more of a coach than a judge. I’m not really good at that. I think I’m way better at being a coach because of the way you build a different relationship. We weren’t allowed to have that with the judges on the other show.
You’ve received loads of great reviews for last year’s album, Meaning of Life. At this stage of your career, is that kind of acclaim gratifying or do you tend to pay less attention to critics’ opinions?
I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to stuff like that. Early on in my career, right after Idol, I had some experiences that taught me how that stuff … can start you chasing something you’re not. It’s been 16 years and it’s been amazing, and you have to surround yourself with good people and make decisions based on what you enjoy and love. For me, that’s the only way this could have happened. The most fulfilling part of the process of (making the record) was enjoying it and working with a great team of people. If you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you have to go find something else.
Are there particular songs from the album you really enjoy singing?
One of the great thing about this album is there are horns all over it. It’s so much fun. It has heat. “Whole Lotta Woman” is my favorite song I’ve performed, ever. “Love So Soft” is a lot of fun live because you can see all the body rolls in the audience. It’s just a great record with great energy. “I Don’t Think About You” is a big ballad like one of those ’90s pop hits, kind of an ode to that era of music, and it has that feeling of overcoming something which is definitely a theme in my career so I love songs like that. Putting together a touring set now is really interesting, to make a set list from all these different chapters of my life.