September 4th marks 17 years since Kelly Clarkson won American Idol. How old do y’all feel? Now, as she gears up for the premiere of her new talk show, the aptly named The Kelly Clarkson Show, she reminisced about Idol‘s inaugural season and it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
“Everyone looks at talent shows on TV now like it’s normal,” Clarkson told People. “It was not normal my first season and a lot of people didn’t like it. It was not fun in the beginning.” But that’s not to say the beloved judge of The Voice isn’t grateful. Kelly has nothing but love for the place that gave her her start and the experience she needed to go through what she’s going through now. “It’s like that Rascal Flatts song. Like, ‘God Bless the Broken Road.’ Because it’s really cool, where it’s brought me.” she said. “Who would have thought, right? [From] cocktail waitress to having your own show. It’s cool.”
Back when shows didn’t stretch the audition episodes for weeks and the stage was teeny-tiny, Clarkson’s auditions — “At Last” by Etta James and Madonna’s “Express Yourself — actually never made the original broadcast. The cocktail waitress from Fort Worth, Texas was first seen and heard during the Hollywood rounds where she performed “Respect” by Aretha Franklin and Vanessa Williams’ “Save the Best for Last.” And that she did, making the show’s Top 10 — and never looking back. Whether she was crushing a Motown hit, a Burt Bacharach ballad, or a big band classic, she proved she deserved the win. It could also be said that Kelly (or anyone on the planet) didn’t deserve From Justin to Kelly, the movie that was inspired by Idol and featured Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini, but we digress.
But after all that, look where Kelly is now. Aside from being one of the most critically and commercially successful Idol winners ever, her music career continues to thrive. And she has never forgotten her roots. In the past, Clarkson has remembered Idol fondly, making a return to the show in 2016 and lovingly recalling her 2002 win on Twitter.
— Kelly Clarkson (@kellyclarkson) September 5, 2014
“I’ve just had so many jerks in my life tell me what I should be doing, ‘This is what a pop star should do, blah blah blah,'” she continued to People. “It really helped me signify for myself what I should be doing for me. So I kind of thank all those jerks. It helped solidify who I am.”
As she gears up for her talk show, she’s doing her best to not put too much pressure on herself, something we bet she would’ve loved to tell 2002 Kelly during her Idol run — but of course, that kind of knowledge comes from maturity and experience. “I’m aware that not everyone’s going to like me. I don’t even like everyone. So when you wrap your head around that, all ego goes out the door.” At last, indeed.