Friday, March 19, 2004 | 5:10 a.m.
March 20 - 21, 2004
Who: Kelly Clarkson and Clay Aiken.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Thomas & Mack Center.
After being anointed a superstar by nearly 8 million call-in voters, what can an American Idol do for an encore?
Vocalist Kelly Clarkson, Season 1 champion of Fox's ultra-popular music talent search, released an album on RCA Records. So far, "Thankful" has gone double-platinum, selling more than 2 million copies, not to mention setting Billboard's all-time chart record with a one-week jump from No. 52 to No. 1.
At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the 20-year-old Burleson, Texas, native brings her star power to the Thomas & Mack Center.
Co-headlining will be Clay Aiken, "American Idol" Season 2 runner-up. His first album, "Measure of a Man," has sold nearly 3 million copies since its October release.
On Tuesday, Clarkson took time for a phone interview with the Las Vegas Sun during a tour stopover in Houston:
Las Vegas Sun: You and Clay are billed as co-headliners. Who closes the show?
Kelly Clarkson: We both said we really didn't care, so we switch every night. Of course he closed the shows in (his home state of) North Carolina, and of course I'll be closing in Grand Prairie (Texas).
Sun: Do the two of you perform anything together?
KC: We do a duet at the very end, no matter who closes -- "Open Arms" by Journey.
Sun: Do you guys talk trash about who would have won if you had gone head to head on "American Idol?"
KC: (Laughs) No, we don't talk about anything like that. We're quite brother-and-sisterish for not having known each before this.
We talk about stupid stuff. Like we were talking on the bus, saying, "Have you ever been in the middle of a concert and stopped thinking about the lyrics while you're still singing them? And you're thinking, 'What do I want to eat tonight?' " We're not that interesting, actually.
Sun: Do you still watch "American Idol"?
KC: Actually, I've never watched the show. I didn't even watch mine. Not because I don't like it of course, I just don't have time. I don't watch TV unless it's Conan O'Brien.
Sun: Has your celebrity sunk in yet?
KC: To be honest with you, I don't think it's ever going to set in. I don't feel different. I still go out to the movies, I still go shopping with my friends, I still go camping, I still do everything I used to.
I'm a lucky one; I don't get noticed a whole lot. I can wear a hat and glasees and you won't even know who I am. But even if (my fans) do it's not a big deal. They're just like, "Oh man, I voted for you. I have your CD. I'm coming to your concert."
So other than having a completely awesome career and job and getting to travel the world, nothing's really different (laughs).
Sun: Has anything about your newfound fame been difficult?
KC: It's hard always being on the road and not being able to hang out with my friends. But I've learned to work with that.
One of my friends does makeup, so she's assisting with makeup and doing wardrobe on my tour. And when I went to Australia I flew my mom out there and we hung out for a couple of days.
Sun: How have other celebrities, particularly other musicians, treated you, considering the unusual route you took?
KC: Everybody's been pretty cool. Nobody's been mean or anything. And even if they were I wouldn't care.
Someone might not have liked the show. That's cool. But I can sing, so it's not like they can tell me I suck or something. I mean, they may not like the style that I sing, but it's not like somebody's gonna say, "You can't sing" or "You're produced." That's impossible -- I sang live on national television every week.
I think even if people don't like the show they respect that.
Sun: Some say the show is more difficult to win now because so many more people are trying out every season. On the other hand, you guys were the show's guinea pigs, not knowing how everything would work beforehand. So who had it tougher?
KC: We were definitely the guinea pigs. I got the ghetto season. We had to run around like chickens with our heads cut off. It was pretty crazy.
But I'm thankful that we were very much innocent, that we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. We just knew that we really really wanted it. We wanted to sing, and we were going to get there no matter how hard it was.
That's a totally different mindset than what people now are doing. They know that Clay's gone triple-platinum, that I've passed double-platinum and that Ruben's doing wonderfully. So they know that if you have enough drive, this is going to work. So it is a different show.
Sun: Is Simon Cowell's attitude on the show just an act or is he really like that in person?
KC: Definitely not an act, if you sit down with Simon you know that this guy is for real, what he says and what he thinks. He's very much a businessman, and he's only going to do what's going to sell. And that's not bad. That's his job.
Sun: You're often labeled as an alternative for parents uncomfortable with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Do you see yourself that way?
KC: To be honest with you, I've liked both of those artists and I've listened to both of their records.
But my thing is, I'm not trying to be a tough girl. I'm not trying to be a sexy girl. I'm not trying to be a girl next door. I've always said, "Y'all have got a lot of weird next-door neighbors if you think I'm the girl next door." Because I'm quirky. I'm weird.
I like to be a good example for kids of course, but I'm gonna slip and fall just like everyone else. It always happens; we're human. So I'm just me. And I think that's what people like. I don't claim to be anything I'm not.