The first year of a new reality show can be pretty rough. Just ask Kelly Clarkson.
As the first winner of American Idol, she had no idea what she was getting herself into that premiere season. She now lovingly calls it, the “ghetto year” of Idol.
“We didn’t have anything they have now,” the singer said while doing press for her new show, Duets. “We didn’t have songs cleared. Didn’t have people helping us on the show.”
Ten years later, Clarkson is switching roles for Duets, the reality singing competition that pairs eight up-and-coming artists with the likes of Robin Thicke, John Legend and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles for a shot at a record contract. Even though she was hesitant to be a part of another show in its inaugural season, Clarkson liked that she would be able to find two people just like her and help them achieve their dreams.
“I’ve been there,” she said. “I understand America voting more than anyone.”
She also knows that fame doesn’t come easy. Clarkson said there’s a sense of entitlement to AI, now in its 11th season, that since the show is popular, the winner will automatically be a top-selling artist. But Clarkson says it’s what you do after your 15 minutes of fame that counts. “You have to work for it…you have to knock on every dang door,” she said. “My whole joke was, I started playing in cow manure and still do.”
That’s why Clarkson has been treating Duets like a boot camp for singers. While Idol looks for solo artists, this show focuses on finding someone who can share a stage, while still making it their own. She also admitted it was much harder than she thought it would be to find an amazing singer that could also harmonize.
“If you took all the winners of Idol and the Voice, I bet maybe three could harmonize, ” she said. “It’s an art to know when to shine and when to pull back.”
Duets premieres this Thursday, May 24 on ABC.