‘American Idol’: Kelly Clarkson Reveals Why She Thought Show Was a ‘Joke’

by John Jamison

Since 2002, “American Idol” has been entertaining millions as a platform to showcase the best musical talent the country has to offer. It has catapulted handfuls of regular people into superstardom over the last two decades. But before it was a sensation, contestants like the show’s first winner, Kelly Clarkson, had no clue what they were in for. In fact, they thought the whole thing was laughable.

Of all the “American Idol” winners from the last two decades, Kelly Clarkson has enjoyed one of the most successful careers. Clarkson is right there behind the likes of fellow winners Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Hudson. She has three Grammy Awards to her name and multiple top 10 hits to her name. But sorry, Kelly. Country superstar, Grand Ole Opry member, and five-time Grammy Award Carrie Underwood winner takes the “Idol” cake.

But that’s beside the point. At the end of the day, Kelly Clarkson was the first to make a successful music career out of her time on “American Idol.” It’s ironic, considering her initial motivation to participate in the show.

Appearing on “Hart to Heart,” a new Kevin Hart-led show on Peacock, Kelly Clarkson talked about joining “American Idol.” She did it for the nominal paycheck given to all of the contestants for participating.

“We all thought it was kind of a joke. I mean, we didn’t think it was going to come to anything. Like we were the first season of “American Idol,” so we were there for that paycheck that, after SAG gives you to like pay for some bills. Nobody knew that it would actually come to anything [or] would come to fruition. That’s what everyone hopes, but that doesn’t usually happen.”

And she wasn’t wrong. The show’s no joke, but lasting success after winning remains exceedingly rare.

The First ‘American Idol’ Winner Skipped Some of the Tougher Parts of Achieving Fame

Some recording artists will spend decades paying their dues as songwriters or backup singers for bigger stars. People in these positions often get caught up in the expectations and pressures of getting where they’d like to be in their careers. Unfortunately, that leaves many vulnerable to being taken advantage of.

Thanks to “American Idol,” Kelly Clarkson jumped over that stage of her career entirely.

“I don’t know, we got thrown into it. I will say, I’m thankful for that at the same time,” Clarkson continued. “But I think because I skipped all that so fast and got thrown in, there was no time for people to really drill me on ‘you have to do this, you have to be this.'”

Despite skipping right over the “polishing” aspect of her music career entirely, America accepted Clarkson for who she was. And the renaissance woman never looked back.