The unknown girl with vocal talents emerged on the mainstream spotlight after winning the American Idol contest in 2002. Clarkson went from an anonymous talent to a nationally known singer performing for an audience of millions of viewers. One of the show's most naturally gifted singers, the 20 year-old Burleson, TX native's vocal talents were discovered when she was in seventh grade, when her school's choir teacher heard her singing and urged Clarkson to join the choir. After high school, Clarkson cultivated her voice and went to Hollywood to make her name; she appeared as an extra on an episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch but no other opportunities materialized. Upon returning to Burleson, Clarkson worked at a movie theater, promoted Red Bull energy drinks and ultimately worked as a cocktail waitress at a comedy club before entering the American Idol contest. One of 10,000 aspiring singers, Clarkson distinguished herself not only with her big, surprisingly mature voice, but also with her down-to-earth charm and sense of humor: at one of her auditions, she switched places with judge Randy Jackson, who did an impromptu version of R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly." Over the course of the 13-week show, her consistently strong performances of songs like "Respect," "Natural Woman," "Stuff Like That There" and "Without You" earned Clarkson enough audience votes to claim one of the contest's two finalist positions. After singing "A Moment Like This" and "Before Your Love," both of which were written for the show, Clarkson won the American Idol contest with 58 percent of the audience's votes. In addition to the show's prize of a $1 million recording contract with RCA, Clarkson secured a deal with Creative Artists Agency and several bookings, including the national American Idol tour and a performance of the national anthem at the September 11 commemoration at Washington, DC's Lincoln Memorial. Despite her newfound fame, Clarkson opted to remain in Texas rather than move to New York or Los Angeles. Her first single, A Moment Like This, was released just two weeks after she won the contest and quickly earned platinum sales. Clarkson's self-titled full-length album -- which was rumored to include a duet with the contest's runner-up, curly-haired heartthrob Justin Guarini -- was released in spring of 2003, just in time to coincide with the second season of American Idol and right before the American Idol movie, From Justin to Kelly. Kelly was born on April 24, 1982, in Burleson, Texas.
Kelly Clarkson - Did U Know?
Kelly Clarkson moved to LA before auditioning for American Idol to try and get discovered but her apartment building burned down and she was forced to move back home.
Christina Aguilera co-wrote her hit single, Miss Independent.
Kelly Clarkson's fave song is Against All Odds by Phil Collins
The track Breakaway, that is featured on the Princess Diaries 2 soundtrack, was co-written by Avril Lavigne.
Kelly's natural hair color is blonde.
Kelly Clarkson and fellow American Idol contestant Justin Guarini starred in their own movie in 2003 called From Justin to Kelly.
Kelly Clarkson Says...
"I don't let anything get to me or people pressure me. If you're going to pressure me to do something, I'm going to do the opposite. So if you tell me to get skinny, I'm probably going to get fat just to piss you off."
Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway
It's been awhile since Kelly Clarkson wowed America on reality TV, but that doesn't mean she hasn't been busy. Breakaway is Kelly's second full-length album since winning the American Idol title. This disc is a lot funkier than her usual stuff, with lots of rockin' guitar riffs and bouncy beats. There's still the softer side of Kelly that we've all grown to love, but there's also a lot more edge.
Kelly Clarkson - Breakaway Facts:
The song Breakaway is also featured on the Princess Diaries 2 soundtrack.
Avril Lavigne co-wrote Kelly's title song, Breakaway.
The track, Since U Been Gone, was recorded in Sweden. The rest of the CD was recorded in Los Angeles.
Since U Been Gone was the most-added song to Top 40 radio stations when the single was released in late November 2004.
Kelly Clarkson: Behind Hazel Eyes
Kelly will take fans on a unique behind-the-scenes look at her life with the release of her new DVD. Kelly Clarkson: Behind Hazel Eyes profiles the ordinary girl from Texas who beat over 10,000 other aspiring singers to become the first American Idol. The DVD offers fans never-before-seen footage of Clarkson including the making of the music video, “Breakaway,” a camping trip video diary, bloopers and six songs. Kelly Clarkson: Behind Hazel Eyes will be available at retail nationwide on March 29, 2005.
Through a series of interviews, Kelly reveals the girl behind the image. From the private ‘closed’ set of a music video to the red carpet of a movie premiere, Kelly gives exclusive access to all areas of her professional life both in the public arena and behind-the-scenes. She talks openly of the journey she’s taken to get where she is today and returns home to Texas to meet with some of the most significant people in her life. Meet Kelly’s high school friends, as she reveals her love for camping and some serious bowling skills. In the studio, Kelly gets down to business recording her new album for 19 Recordings/RCA -- and the true depth of her passion for music is shown. This artist has come a long way in a short time and yet she’s still the girl she always was, Kelly Clarkson from Texas.
Clarkson was the first winner of Fox TV’s extremely popular American Idol series. As a result of her win, she received a $ 1 million recording contract with RCA Records and her first single, “A Moment Like This,” which earned a #1 spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart within two weeks of release. Her first album, “Thankful” achieved double platinum status. Clarkson recently released her sophomore album, “Breakaway,”. The title song was featured on Princess Diaries 2, as well as on the film’s soundtrack.
Avril Lavigne Helps Kelly Clarkson Become A Pop 'Princess'
Soundtrack song 'Breakaway' penned by Canadian songwriter. Avril Lavigne has had harsh words for pop singers in the past, but her words for Kelly Clarkson could not have been better suited.
Along with producer Matthew Gerrard, Lavigne wrote Clarkson's new single, "Breakaway," which "fits my lifE perfectly,'' the original ''American Idol'' told.
The song is so autobiographical that for the video Kelly decided to act out most of the lyrics, with the help of an actress portraying a younger version of herself.
Directed by Dave Meyers (Missy Elliott, Britney Spears), the video begins with the 8-year-old version of Clarkson singing from the back seat of a car as she watches a Texas thunderstorm out the window. "Grew up in a small town/ And when the rain would fall down/ I just stared out my window," Clarkson sings.
The video then flashes to present-day Kelly arriving on the red carpet for the premiere of "The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement," the movie that features the song.
"Since it's a movie tie-in, the idea stems from trying to figure out a new way of addressing the film-footage requirement they put on you, so we came up with the idea of her attending the premiere, which is very much something she will do in real life," Meyers said. "And 'Princess Diaries' sort of parallels the humble kid who stumbles across the riches."
Clarkson's the star of the premiere, but with the flash of a camera bulb, the video switches back again, showing the little girl praying by her bedside as she sing the chorus: "I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly/ I'll do what it takes 'til I touch the sky/ ... I'll take a risk/ Take a chance/ Make a change/ And break away."
"We tied [the premiere] in with how she grew up as a kid, her first flight where she's afraid of turbulence, just some of the human qualities behind a pop star," Meyers explained. "It's so rare you get to see who these people are. In Kelly's case, I felt the song was so telling and emotional that it would be a good opportunity."
As the clip continues, we see Clarkson on a private jet and then in the movie theater, where it flashes back to her working at a movie theater — a job the singer really did have growing up.
"I did some research," Meyers said. "The first treatment had like six jobs of her, but when reality set in and we realized how much time we had, we decided to just do the theater."
During the final verse, the video juxtaposes the younger Kelly singing on her rooftop as she watches the sun set with the present-day Clarkson performing at the premiere's afterparty.
"She was very good; she came across so honest," Meyers said. "I was a little worried, her coming off 'American Idol,' it inherently feels manufactured and I didn't know how much of it was true artistry. But when I met her, she really does have a good, solid vibe. It was an honor to bring some of that out of her."
Kelly told Z100 she recorded "Breakaway" to tide fans over until September, when the first single from her second record will be released. The album will follow in October.
"It's very rock, very soul, a poppier Janis Joplin, but not as hard," Clarkson said. "I've written most of [the songs] so far, but there's some people who have some stuff for me. I'm not one of those people who thinks you have to write everything. [I'll sing it] as long as I can relate to it."
Clarkson also told Z100 that her friends tease her about how often "From Justin to Kelly" airs on cable and that it's been months since she last talked to co-star Justin Guarini.
"He's totally working with different people," she said. "I don't even have his number."
"The Princess Diaries 2" soundtrack, which also features Avril and Lindsay Lohan, is due August 3. The movie, starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, hits theaters August 11.
Kelly Clarkson: Just Listen
With the title Breakaway, one might assume Kelly Clarkson's new album is an attempt to distance herself from "American Idol," the glorified karaoke contest that launched her career. And one would be wrong. "I didn't even think of that, I'm so stupid," Clarkson said. "It has nothing to do with 'American Idol.' I will never break away from 'American Idol.' I'm the first one. It's on the grave. I've come to realize that and it's OK, I don't care. It's how I got in the business, and I think how I really got in the business is talent, so hopefully that's gonna keep me here and that's what matters." So then what is the Burleson, Texas, native trying to break away from? MTV News' Corey Moss tracked her down at the video shoot for her latest single, "Since U Been Gone," to find out.
MTV: First of all, how was it working with former Evanescence members Ben Moody and David Hodges?
Kelly Clarkson: It was a trip. They're both so different from each other and so different from me, but I think the three of us getting together just created such great songs. "Because of You" and "Addicted" are the ones on the album that I did with them, and we've all got three totally separate backgrounds in music, so those two songs are like really the two best on the album.
MTV: Can we expect the tracks to sound a little like Evanescence?
Clarkson: Well, I'm not goth, so obviously that's not going to happen. It is a bit more rock, but I wrote the songs that I did with them like three years ago, maybe even four, actually. Hearing the Evanescence album, you can obviously tell that David and Ben have a real passion for music and that big kind of background. And I have a big voice and I like the music to match it, so it was a real dream team.
MTV: So you wrote a lot of the songs?
Clarkson: I was Little Miss Songbird, writing everywhere with everyone. Some of the songs didn't make it; they were awesome as well, but you can only have so many on an album. I ended up writing like half the album and working with a lot of great writers and producers. And the songs I didn't write, writers that I was working with wrote for me.
MTV: What sorts of things did you write about?
Clarkson: Lyrically, the album is like a journal of the past two and a half years, and I'm gonna say there was some down points. The album is a lot deeper, definitely, than Thankful. It's just a lot harder, but it's very honest and it's very real and it's very raw at the same time, and that's what I love about it. You know, there's some happy songs on there, but for the most part it's kind of one of those albums that's just like … You listen to [Alanis Morissette's] Jagged Little Pill and there's not too many happy ones on there. This album is just like all the stuff that's just going inside of me, all this passion and emotion and everything.
MTV: So is there a central theme running through the record?
Clarkson: The message that goes through the whole album is actually a title of one of the songs called "Hear Me." I think everybody goes through that, and it's not just because I'm in the industry. Everybody goes through that at a point in their life, especially when you're young and you just wanna be heard. You want everybody to just be quiet around you and just listen just for once. And that's kind of the album. Would somebody please stop and listen instead of just passing by and having me smile all the time. Obviously there's a lot of different kind of feelings and variety on the album as well, but that's probably the major thing that I just had to get out with the lyrics.
MTV: After the success of Thankful, did you find that your label and management gave you more control in the studio?
Clarkson: Everybody is always asking me if I am more in control of this one or if I feel the sophomore curse, and I don't really feel any of that. All I did, literally, was go in the studio with people and I had a lot fun. It was a great experience just 'cause I knew obviously a lot more from the first record. It was a roller coaster. It's always a roller coaster when it comes to the music industry, but it was fun.
MTV: Did living and recording in Los Angeles contribute to the vibe of the album?
Clarkson: Oh, I hate where I live. I have a home in Texas, but I'm renting in Beverly Hills and I hate it, 'cause I just feel posh or like I'm in "Clueless" or something. It just doesn't fit me. But anyway, I made the record out here in L.A. except for "Since U Been Gone," which I did in Sweden actually, which was cool. All those people are pretty, every one of them. It's weird. Anyway, I just ramble, so sorry. Most of the songs we did here in L.A. and it was really cool just to be based [in one place] instead of flying around, 'cause the last record I was playing all over the place and it was just chaotic.
MTV: Why did you call the album Breakaway?
Clarkson: "Breakaway" is a song I did for [the] "Princess Diaries" [sequel] that's out right now, so it [originally] wasn't even an option for like a title or anything, but it so explains and describes all the songs on my album, like each and everyone of them. Like I said about the past two and a half years, I've grown from that now and I'm breaking away from that, so it just fit.
MTV: So "Breakaway" is on the album?
Clarkson: It was always going to be on the album from the moment I recorded it, but I didn't know people were going to like the song so much, but that's cool, that's awesome. It's a great song. Avril did such a great job writing it.
MTV: Do you have a favorite track on the album?
Clarkson: Probably my favorite track on the whole album, just because it's the sexiest song I've ever written in my life, is "Addicted." I love it. Everyone's been there — I wrote this song about someone that you loved but it was almost a little bit like an obsession. You were just like, "I don't really love them," but you were just obsessed with them 'cause you had nothing else to do. Everybody does that at one point in your life. It's totally about that. It's like their drug, it's like you can't get away from them.
MTV: What music were you listening to while making this album?
Clarkson: I'm a big Aerosmith girl, Aretha Franklin, Maroon 5. I like to listen to a lot of older stuff just 'cause I don't want to get too influenced while I'm making an album 'cause then you might end up sounding like them. So actually I haven't listened to a lot of current people at all. ... There's a song on my album that very much has an Aerosmithy feel, but that's OK because I'm 22 years old and I'm nowhere near Steven Tyler, so it's cool.
MTV: You and Tamyra Gray did a duet on Thankful. Why are there no duets on Breakaway?
Clarkson: To be honest with you I was so locked away in a cave doing the album that I didn't even think about it. I was so focused on just getting the message out that was in my heart that I didn't even pay attention to anything else. But I'd love to do collaborations with anyone.
Kelly Clarkson: Crowd- Surfing Anti-Diva
"She's a hoot," Kelly Clarkson says in her Texas drawl. "She's so crazy, like, so different from what you would picture." America's idol is recalling her collaboration with songwriter extraordinaire Diane Warren ("Rhythm of the Night," "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"), but she might as well be describing herself.
Straight up, Clarkson is a hoot. And she's crazy and different than you'd think. She's a Southern belle with enough charm to win over Simon Cowell, but she's also got a bit of the other Kelly in her — Osbourne, that is.
She adores Reba McEntire but has a soft spot for Metallica.
"Nobody believes I'm, like, the mosh pit girl ..." — Kelly Clarkson
"Everybody thinks it's hilarious that my favorite band is the Toadies," Clarkson says, toasting her fellow Texans as she sips bottled water in an RCA Records conference room, which is decked out with a killer sound system and a wet bar. "Nobody believes I'm, like, the mosh pit girl, I'm the bodysurfing girl at the concerts. Everybody sees me as little white Kelly from Texas who should be singing country or something."
The truth is she's a lot of both. Clarkson is the homecoming queen, the girl all the cliques like, even though she's not really in one. When it came time to title her debut album, Kelly wanted Pigeonhole This, as in, "Just try to categorize me!"
Clarkson's voice has been compared to Whitney Houston's or Mariah Carey's, but when it comes to personality, she's wildly different. She's an anti-diva. There's an edge to her, but when it come downs to it, she's the nicest pop star in the business.
All this makes perfect sense considering that less than a year ago, the voice behind the sappy record-breaking single "A Moment Like This" was hawking energy drinks from bar to bar. "Red Bull promo girl, that's what I was," Clarkson says with pride.
Of course, she didn't get as humble and hardworking as she is from punching just a single time clock. "I had so many jobs," she recalls. "I always had three or four at a time."
Still, she always made time for singing, and after graduating high school she decided to chase her dreams to Los Angeles and shop around a demo tape. Like so many kids who flock here with the world in their eyes, Kelly struggled.
"I had really bad experiences when I came out here that, you know, I can't talk about," she says. "Many doors slammed in the face."
Clarkson's months of misery were punctuated by her apartment burning down. She took it as a sign and moved back home to rural Burleson, Texas, the place where her diverse taste in music first developed. When she was growing up, her dad was into soul singers, her mom was into adult contemporary, her stepdad was into country rock, and her older brother was into metal.
All of these influences followed Kelly through the door to her first audition for something called "American Idol." A friend signed her up for the competition, so Clarkson was hazy on the details.
"I showed up and I had no idea what to do."
"I didn't have any clue whether it was, like, one of those pop star group girl things or anything ... but I showed up and I had no idea what to do," she says, laughing. "And I was like the first one in line because I had to make it to work on time."
Kelly sang Etta James' "At Last," a song she brought with her to the show. Four auditions later, she finally learned exactly what "American Idol" was.
"People kept coming out and going, 'I'm going to Hollywood,' and I'm all like, 'Hey, that's great. I just came back.' Then I found out it was this big TV show they were doing."
On the show, Clarkson quickly became the fan favorite, the judges' favorite and even the contestants' favorite. Throughout the competition, she developed strong friendships with each of the finalists, especially Justin Guarini, the runner-up who co-stars in the upcoming "From Justin to Kelly" musical with Clarkson, and Tamyra Gray, who appears on her album.
"It's weird how everyone saw it as a big competition, 'cause I mean, it was, there was gonna be a winner and everything, but it's just weird 'cause all of us didn't see it as [that]," Clarkson says, collecting her thoughts. "I mean, nobody's taught to fail, you don't want second, but we all just wanted exposure. ... You can't be better than someone that's completely different from you. Justin, Tamyra, Nikki [McKibbin], RJ [Helton], Ryan [Starr], we're all different. You can't really compare apples and oranges."
The premise of "American Idol" is that the winner, voted on by the public, gets a $1 million record deal and the chance to release an album on a major label. What they don't tell you is that while you make that album, you have to juggle constant interviewing, touring the country with the other finalists, and in Kelly's case, making a movie.
With that kind of schedule, Clarkson was forced to record her debut one song at a time with a variety of producers in various studios across the country. With her schizophrenic tastes, however, it actually worked out rather nicely in mixing the sounds together.
What her frantic agenda has hindered is Kelly's personal life. "It would be so unfair to date someone right now, I can't even imagine," she says. "I would be like, 'Oh, I'm sorry. I have to leave,' all the time!"
Clarkson pauses as though she's asking herself whether she would be dating more if she had lost "American Idol." "I used to date, but I've always been the type to just be more involved with getting my whole life situated first," she tosses out. "I grew up with divorce, and you find out that you need to establish yourself and find out who you are before you can let someone else in. So, I'm still finding myself. ... I'm working on my career and I'm very happy."
With not a lot of relationship experience of her own, Kelly draws on stories from friends when she's writing songs.
"I can put myself in people's shoes real well."
"One of my girlfriends can call me and be like, 'My boyfriend was so rude, and he did this ... and he, like, totally just did wrong,' and I can write off of that," Clarkson explains. "I can put myself in people's shoes real well. Also, I write a lot, like, just my thinking. If I'm having a bad day, I come home and write about it. That's always been my outlet. I had a problem when I was younger — I would never tell people [things], I'd just start crying and people were asking and I would never get it out. My mom was like, 'Maybe you should start writing it down.' And so it just kinda formed into songs."
Clarkson co-wrote four of the songs on her album, Thankful, including the single "Miss Independent," which producer Rhett Lawrence (Mariah Carey) had already started working on with Christina Aguilera for her Stripped.
"I didn't even know she had written on it until recently," Kelly admits. "She's a phenomenal writer. You can hear a lot of her, especially in the hook. What's cool about it is that it shows the rock side of my album, the soulful side of my album and that kinda groove track."
Kelly is especially proud that she is also a songwriter, though the executive producer of her album, legendary career maker Clive Davis, believes her singing talent is enough.
"Pop music is very much a part of our fabric, and you do need young performers who can interpret the songs," he said. "That's what you need Kelly Clarkson to do. Kelly stood out because her voice is a very powerful voice, very gifted interpreter of songs."
"Miss Independent" was Clarkson's choice for the first single, even though she had already proven to be a sure-thing with a ballad.
"For all the people who expected a ballad, you can watch every [episode of 'American Idol' that I was in]," she says, almost bitterly. "I mean there are a lot of great ballads on my album, but I can't constantly ... I mean, I'm 20, like, I like other stuff."
For the songs on Clarkson's album she didn't have a hand in writing, she made sure she knew what they were truly about. "I'll have the writer come to the studio ... 'cause I'm a very emotional singer, like, I always get into the song," she says, recalling nights spent with Diane Warren, Matthew Wilder and other songwriters. "It's like acting in a character. ... I've never felt like a 'Natural Woman,' but I sang the song."
Clarkson's favorite moment on the record is a mid-tempo blues tune she co-wrote with Babyface called "Thankful," about, simply, feeling appreciative for her life.
"My mom cries when she listens to it," Clarkson says. "It's about my mom and my friends and fans and everybody that I'm working with. Knock on wood, I have had the best luck with working with people."
Kelly likes the song so much that when her handlers vetoed Pigeonhole This over worries it could be offensive, she decided on Thankful for the album title. And if that doesn't convey how truly grateful she is, check out liner notes. While most artists reserve a quarter of a panel for acknowledgements, Clarkson's takes up four panels and includes a sentence for each fellow "American Idol" finalist.
"I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them."
"At first they were like, 'Your thank yous are too long,' but luckily we did my CD so fast that they didn't have time to put all the lyrics on there," she says.
Still, Kelly doesn't feel like there was enough room. "I did think that it was important to point out certain individuals," she explains, "[whether] it be my friends from back home that have really just supported me through everything or the nine other [finalists] from 'American Idol,' because I wouldn't be here if it weren't for them. Like, I won, but I won growing off of them."
Clarkson brings up her fellow finalists several times. It's clear she's sincere about her admiration for them and that distancing herself from the show to move on with her career has never crossed her mind.
"I'm not trying to get away from anything," she explains. "I'm just trying to be me. People are always gonna relate me [to it] because I was the first one that won the show. So it's always gonna be there, but I don't mind 'cause it's a very credible show. And I mean a lot of amazing talent came out of it. ... I just like to have fun. Whoever I do that with and whoever I work with, whatever happens, is cool."
Kelly Clarkson: Public Enemy #1
You wished you were her when she belted out that winning song, but you'll be glad you're not when the original American Idol takes on America's Most-Hated Jobs.
Hated Job #1: The Telemarketer
All 30 headset-wearing employees at Los Angeles-based Concorde Communications are diligently dialing, ready to harass another day's worth of unsuspecting phone answerers, when they do a massive double take. The New Girl is here, but she's no ordinary New Girl. She's Kelly Clarkson, and she's humming to herself and flipping her choppy, well-highlighted hair as she sashays into one of the many drab cubicles. The American Idol has entered the building, ready to harangue the good citizens of America into buying high-speed Internet access.
Christina, a plump, brunette Concorde veteran in a floral dress, schools Kelly in the ways of the computer and shares her tried-and-true tactics to "turn those nos into yeses."
"Exciting!" Kelly exclaims in her charming southern twang. She actually means it: The American Idol harbors a little secret. She actually worked as a telemarketer in her pre-reality-TV-queen days. "Let me tell you," she says. "I am a seller. People are gonna want to talk to me. The secret is to come off as a buddy, not a salesperson."
Armed with a headset and script, Kelly is ready to reach out and touch someone -- but the first four numbers she dials are out of service. She gets antsy. "I want to talk, already," she whines. Finally, somebody answers. Shedding the giggly schoolgirl persona, Kelly zips into professional phone-speak, that persistent baritone people love to hang up on.
"Law office, Leon speaking," a man says.
"Hello, Leon. This is Kelly from Concorde Communications. Are you involved with your company's data and telecommunications services?"
"I'm actually not," Leon says kindly.
"Well," Kelly continues, "Perhaps an MIS or IT director is available?" (According to Kelly's cheat sheet, it's important to "capture contact info.")
Leon tells Kelly that the person in charge isn't in the office and asks her to call back. Click.
A discouraging start. Unless you happen to be the girl who survived countless elimination rounds in the public eye -- not to mention those biting insults from Simon Cowell. So, naturally, Kelly sees the bright side of this exchange: "Oooh, he didn't hang up on me," she says. "He asked me to call back! I told you, I'm a natural."
The next six calls "cannot be completed as dialed." Calls 13 through 17 are either wrong numbers or ring incessantly -- no answer, no voice mail. Welcome to the mundane hell of telemarketing. Kelly remains hopeful, though. "I feel it. Someone is going to want a good Internet hookup," she says.
A dozen voice mails later, however, and our Idol's luster is beginning to fade. To revive her wilting pep, Kelly starts calling people she knows and disguising her voice. First is her manager's receptionist, who brushes her off gently. Then, she gets rudely rebuffed by the PR firm that reps her: "No. G'bye." Click!
"God," she says, disappointed. "I can't believe how many people are hating me right now." As a prank, I suggest she call Michael, the Marie Claire editor who has assigned me to write this story. No sooner can she spit out a sentence than he informs her he doesn't handle the magazine's telecommunications decisions. She asks whom she should contact, and he (politely) balks, "I really have no idea. Good-bye." Click! He had no clue it was Kelly -- even though he helped plan this whole gig.
At least we know that Kelly's convincing -- so much so that Sylviane Herzog, the president of Concorde, offers her a job. "She has such a great telemarketing voice. She's hired!" Sylviane shouts, then adds, "You know, if the whole Idol thing doesn't work out."
Hated Job #2: The Used-Car Salesperson
The scene at Toyota of Hollywood is typical of a used-car lot: rows and rows of vehicles; more balloons than you'd find at a two-year-old's birthday party; gigantic, blinding "Sale" signs; and, of course, lurking salesmen ready to feast on their prey. Christopher, the general sales manager, and Charlie, a sales rep, give Kelly tips on how to close a deal. "Ask questions to see what the car will be used for -- it's all about the customer's needs. Do they want four-wheel drive, a large backseat?" "Oh, and don't talk about money. Always tell them, 'We'll be fair and reasonable.'"
Kelly nods. After a morning of overt rejection, she's ready to slip into the role of pedal pusher. "I don't really want to accost people, but I'll do what I have to," she declares, rubbing her hands with wicked delight. "Time to move some motors!"
Of course, dressed in a sheer, striped, belly-baring top, hip-hugging, tattered bell-bottoms, and four-inch platform boots, Kelly looks like anything but a used-car salesman. But maybe she's on to something. Her first customer, Alan, is a 39-year-old actor sporting a shaggy 'do and a Chia Pet on his chin. He wants to trade in his Ford Explorer.
She shows him a 4Runner. Her selling point: "My mom has one and loves it." The spiel gets better: Kelly tells him about extended warranties (she has no idea what she's talking about), the "computer thing" inside the car, and the "great glove compartment that will fit anything you need." However, Alan seems more into her than the car. (Now this is a tactic that might work!)
Sitting in the leather front seats, Kelly points out the "lovely" radio and Alan gets chummy. He touches her arm and asks personal questions -- "Did the belly piercing hurt?" "Where did you get your top?" To dodge his advances, Kelly brings up memories of her own first car -- a Honda Accord -- which she totaled.
Fifteen minutes later, Alan walks away without a new set of wheels. But he is impressed. "She's not pushy, like most car salespeople. It's not every day you meet one you want to ask out on a date." Kelly shakes her head. Men!
Next, she sidles up to Christine and Shane, a grungy-looking couple barely out of high school who are eyeing a forest-green Tacoma for "eventual family use."
"Oh, this is a great car," Kelly gushes. "My friend Matthew drives one of these and loves it. I know jack about it, to be honest, but I know it's dependable, because otherwise, Matthew wouldn't have bought it." The two stare at her blankly. "And I have actually been in it," she continues. "It drives smoothly."
Christine asks about the mileage. "Oh, this eats up gas," Kelly says. "If you really want good mileage, you should get a Honda." (Mind you, this is a Toyota dealership.) Shane asks if it has a "big block engine." But Kelly has no idea what that is, so she changes the topic, telling him that the tires, which she kicks, are . . . "great." Then, she emphasizes one of the car's biggest assets: "It's a 2002, and the previous owner took very good care of it, changing the oil all the time. He was an older man." (Of course, none of this is true -- and none of it was authorized by Toyota -- but it does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?)
Shockingly, Christine and Shane aren't sold. As the couple and their Dr. Martens move on, Kelly furrows her brow and confesses, "I feel so dirty right now, lying like this. I'm definitely gonna need a chai latte when this is done."
Her next victim is Monica, a groovy 25-year-old who works in "production." Like almost everyone else in Hollywood, she's considering the Prius, the economical, hybrid gas-electric number that Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz drive to promote environmentalism. (Leo actually bought his Prius here.)
"It's so cool, isn't it?! And get this: It gets 52 miles to the gallon, and the battery recharges itself constantly!" Kelly boasts, looking over to Charlie, who's standing nearby, for validation. He shoots her a thumbs-up.
"What else do I need to know about it?" Monica asks.
"Well . . ." Kelly gropes. "It's black! It will make you look thinner!"
Kelly pops open the hood and leans over with Monica to inspect the engine. "Come on, how pretty is this engine?" she continues.
Monica nods. But in the end, she walks away from the sale, saying she's looking for "something bigger."
And on that somewhat sour note, Kelly's career in used-car sales -- a car wreck in itself -- comes crashing to an end.
Kelly's dubious car skills don't make any sales, but she scores with one customer, who wants a date.
Hated Job #3: Perfume Spritzer
Kelly's final job is the most annoying: a perfume spritzer, that menacing department-store employee armed with the latest "soft, sensual, feminine" scent. "Normally, I do not like these people," Kelly concedes. "So it'll be fun to spray other people to death." Ah, but we have one little problem: Malls are teeming with people who watch reality television. As Kelly begins her shift at the Macy's in L.A.'s Beverly Center, the first three women she pounces on shriek, "You're the girl from American Idol! Of course you can spray me!" The two act incredibly interested in the perfume, but they really want little more than a photo op with Kelly.
And while two teenage girls who don't recognize her are happy to get hit with a cloud of Tommy Girl ("the spicy, fresh fragrance from Tommy Hilfiger," Kelly croons), two senior citizens scurry past without even acknowledging her. A sleek, Chanel-clad woman motions for Kelly to "talk to the hand," while another dodges her three times until Kelly cuts her off at the pass. "Would you like to try Estee Lauder's Pleasures?" she asks. The woman shakes her head -- and refuses eye contact. How rude!
"I cannot believe she was trying to run away from me! God, these people hate me!" Kelly says, almost in shock. I remind her that she, too, hates perfume spritzers. She defends herself: "Maybe. But I am not a monster!"
Not everyone agrees.
As Kelly saunters up to someone at the Estee Lauder counter, the woman snaps at her, "Hold it. You're Kelly from American Idol. What are you doing here?"
Kelly's stumped. "Umm," she stammers. "I'm actually the employee of the month!" "Well, I don't think you should have won that contest, anyway," the woman, a petite blonde in Juicy Couture sweats, sniffs in a British accent. "You stole Justin's crown. And no, I do not want any perfume."
Kelly's chin drops to the floor, and she turns to her manager for consolation. "Can you believe that?" she says, her eyes tearing up. "I never!"
Indeed, being hated for doing jobs that aren't yours is one thing; being viciously blindsided for being you is quite another. Kelly needs a minute to pull herself back together before she can brandish the Tommy Girl again. But within minutes, the blonde walks back -- uh-oh -- and? starts laughing. Apparently, her outburst was a joke, set up by Kelly's own manager and publicist -- payback for the telemarketing calls Kelly placed to their offices earlier.
"Thank gosh!" Kelly says. "I was really upset!" (Thank gosh? Has America's Most Hated learned nothing today?)
Back into the spritzing swing, Kelly resumes being dismissed and debased by the mall-walkers of America. One woman barks that she has enough perfume. Two guys also give her the talk-to-the-hand. (Desperate, she's begun trying to spray men.)
Then, finally, just as Kelly starts to feel like she couldn't sell water in the desert, she actually gets some love.
A 39-year-old masseuse stops by for a spray of Angel. ("It's so sensual, isn't it?" Kelly coos breathlessly.) Two male-model types and their gal pal allow Kelly to share her bottle, and they nod enthusiastically. An older woman in a denim suit takes three samples home, promising to "think about it."
"See? I am lovable! I really am!" Kelly squeals. Overcome by her success -- or perhaps light-headed from all the perfume she's been inhaling -- Kelly breaks into some dance moves and belts out part of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful."
Immediately, a cast of shoppers stops to watch, and when Kelly finally finishes, two giggly girls approach her for an autograph. The American Idol graciously agrees. And, for good measure, she also hands them a few samples of Tommy Girl. Thus proving once and for all that no matter what stage she's on -- or what thankless role she's playing -- Kelly Clarkson knows how to win over a crowd.
Kelly Clarkson's new album, Thankful, is in stores now. Her film, From Justin to Kelly, hit theaters on June 13.
Who is the real Kelly Clarkson?
On Kelly Clarkson's second album, the ex-cocktail waitress turned hitmaker embraces her rock side rather than the pop pageantry that put her on top of the American Idol heap. To that end, Clarkson recruited former Evanescence members Ben Moody and David Hodges to help write and produce, and on tracks such as "Because of You" and "Addicted," where the combination of a piano-led melody with roaring guitars rules, you'd swear you were listening to Amy Lee. Somehow, this style works for Clarkson: She comes off more Avril than Ashlee, especially on the album's best moment, the title track (which was, go figure, written by Lavigne). Unfortunately, Clarkson isn't ready to own this new sound. On the Max Martin-penned "Since U Been Gone," she conjures memories of Abba, and on "Hear Me," she channels Pat Benatar. You can't help but wonder: Who is the real Kelly Clarkson, and when will she stop wearing her big sister's hand-me-downs?
Kelly Clarkson second album "Breakaway"
Kelly Clarkson, the first "American Idol," keeps promising us tantalizing things but never quite delivers. Her hit single from her 2003 debut album "Thankful" was titled "Miss Independent," but the song was really a Christina Aguilera castoff. The rest of "Thankful" wasn't even that good, built mainly on overblown Celine Dion/Aguilera-like ballads.
Now there's "Breakaway," which finds Clarkson moving into Avril Lavigne soft rock territory (Lavigne cowrote the hit title track). Songs like "I Hate Myself for Losing You," "Addicted" and "Since U Been Gone" are kicky. This "idol" needs to find an idol-worthy sound she can call her own.
A divine time for Kelly Clarkson's worshippers
I'm just going to come out and say it: American Idol gets a bad rap. Sure, the Nielsen-ratings monster (which comes back to Fox for a fourth season next month) is at times crass, calculated and cheesy, but it's also shameless, often-thrilling fun. AI is the ultimate water-cooler debate.
The key to post-Idol success, then, is to establish a persona outside of the Simon Cowell critiques and Paula Abdul soliloquies. New releases from season-one winner Kelly Clarkson, season-three winner Fantasia and season-three runner-up Diana DeGarmo attempt to stake their individual claims, with varied results.
Clarkson, the Texas sweetheart with the soulful voice, arguably has more to prove than anyone else. Her 2003 debut album, Thankful, sold more than 2 million copies and spawned the radio hit Miss Independent, but she was the inaugural Idol queen. Her success was practically guaranteed.
Breakaway (RCA) then, is Clarkson's true assertion of her independence — in both title and content. The album represents a sharp switch from the soul-inflected pop groove of Thankful, opting instead for crunchy rock guitars and atmospheric arrangements.
It's a jarring change and takes some getting used to. Clarkson tears through bitter pills Behind These Hazel Eyes and Gone with rock-grrrl ferocity. No one is going to mistake her for Courtney Love, but it's also hard to deny the fist-pumping chorus of first single Since U Been Gone.
Clarkson enlisted former Evanescence member Ben Moody to help shed some of the pop sheen on a pair of tracks. Addicted is a Fiona Apple-esque rocker, complete with wailing chorus; and Because of You is a haunting ode to insecurity and one of the albums best tracks.
Kelly Clarkson Debut Album On Top
Seven months after capturing the hearts and minds of the nation, "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson is picking up where she left off. Her highly anticipated RCA/19 Entertainment full-length debut "Thankful" had an explosive first week, selling nearly 300,000 copies and entering the Billboard Top 200 album chart at No.1. As a result, "Thankful" is the best-selling record of the year by a debut artist. Clarkson is ruling radio as well as retail, with the smash lead single "Miss Independent" soaring to the No.1 Most Added and No.1 Most Requested positions at Top 40 outlets across the country.
How hot is Clarkson? According to retail giant Wal-Mart, her April 15, 2003 appearance at their Burleson, Texas branch was the most successful in-store in company history. Close to 3,000 screaming fans jammed the parking lot to watch her stunning performance. Grateful for the heartwarming hometown reception, Clarkson refused to leave the event until everyone in line got her autograph. She spent almost five hours signing copies of "Thankful," eventually finishing at around 1:30 in the morning.
Millions of television viewers have recently tuned in to watch Clarkson bring down the house on shows such as "American Idol - Season 2," "Live with Regis and Kelly," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Good Morning America," "The View," "Dateline" and many others. In addition, she's been profiled on "Access Hollywood," "Entertainment Tonight," "Extra," "CNN," "E! Entertainment," and many more.
Clarkson will appear on the May 2003 cover of Marie Claire and has also graced the covers of publications such as TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, US Weekly, YM and Seventeen. Cosmopolitan named her one of their "Fun, Fearless Females of 2003." In a recent review, Billboard praised "Thankful" for providing "plenty to thrill the masses," writing the album's outlook is "platinum-plated."
"Thankful's" sensational first week follows the September 2002 success of Clarkson's debut single "A Moment Like This/Before Your Love," which rocketed from No. 52 to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles Chart. It was the largest chart leap to No. 1 in Hot 100 history, earning Clarkson a Billboard Music Award for Best-Selling Single of the Year.
If all that weren't enough, Clarkson, is preparing to shoot a video for "Miss Independent. "There is so much ahead of me and so much I want to accomplish," says the 21-year-old singer. "It all seems to be happening so quickly that I have to force myself to stop and realize how 'thankful' I truly am."
Where No ''IDOL'' Has Gone Before
While a number of "American Idol" contestants have topped the Hot 100 Singles Sales chart, Kelly Clarkson is the first "Idol" singer to occupy pole position on Hot Digital Tracks.
Clarkson bowed on the download survey in July 2003, when "Miss Independent" peaked at No. 2. "Breakaway" went to No. 3 in September. Now she is No. 1 with "Since U Been Gone" (RCA).
The longest-running No. 1 on the digital tally is OutKast's "Hey Ya!" at 19 weeks. Hoobastank is in second place, thanks to the 10-week reign of "The Reason."