Kelly Clarkson to Premiere 'Dark Side' at BBMAs, Talks 'Duets'
Kelly Clarkson to Premiere 'Dark Side' at BBMAs, Talks 'Duets'

K elly Clarkson will premiere her new single "Dark Side" at the Billboard Music Awards Sunday in a mashup with "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)." The singer, now 10 years and five albums removed from her season one victory in "American Idol," provided that detail Thursday while in Los Angeles doing interviews to promote ABC's summer singing competition "Duets."

"We've already shot a video and I'll be doing it on 'Dancing With the Stars,'" Clarkson told Billboard. "Dark Side" will be sent to radio on Monday and her label, RCA, will go for adds on June 4.

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Clarkson, John Legend, Robin Thicke and Jennifer Nettles will each mentor and perform with two singers each over the course of nine weeks beginning May 24. Clarkson's partners in the program are Jordan Meredith, 21, from Kimberly, Wisc., and Jason Farol, 23, from Torrance, Calif.

The first five episodes of "Duets" are taped; the show will go live on June 28 for the final four episodes. Between shooting episodes every three days, the cast flew to New York for the ABC presentations to the advertising community earlier this week. The winner will receive a deal with Hollywood Records, which, like ABC, is owned by Disney.

"I had a complete 10-year-old moment," Clarkson said the experience meeting the casts of "Once Upon a Time," "Revenge" and "Modern Family." "I acted like an idiot. I completely nerded out. "

Back from her starstruck moment, Clarkson answered some questions about the show, her own career and the advice she is passing along to Meredith and Farol.

How do you select these two singers?

I found the from video submissions -- I wanted everybody to have equal opportunity. They sound very different. What drew me to them was the raw talent factor and the tone. (Farol) has this old soul voice. She's been one of the only ones to show versatility - she's done country, blues and pop.

You have been undoubtedly asked to participate n other competitions. Why did you decide to do this one?

I have been approached and have said no. (ABC) approached me at an awards show and they sold it to me as an awards show. Basically the best parts (of awards shows) are collaborations, like performing with Jason Aldean on the Grammys. That doesn't happen a lot. When Tim McGraw and Nelly did that song together and you're like 'whhaaaat?' and somehow it worked. I think those are the best parts of the shows and I love that they have based a whole show on that, the collaborative process.

You're known for doing a fair amount of covers in concert. Did that affect the sorts of songs you chose for the show?

I love doing songs by other people, especially when it has added meaning. For this generation, "Jagged Little Pill" was so relatable and singing "Perfect" or "Mary Jane" (made sense for me). I love covering a song that means something to me, whether it's a fun party song where you got drunk at a bar and were like 'this would be great to sing' or if it's just a sweet moment like "Why" by Annie Lennox. I think it's so awesome. We've made the songs their own, catered to them production wise. She picked the song we're doing (next). I would not have picked it but I want to push them to start doing that. He picked a song, but it wasn't the most competitive song. I said 'you need to sing a song that will blow them away'. This is a competition. You're not making an album.

What you excel at is writing and picking songs that unfold as stories, so you need more than the 90 seconds or two minutes to get the full experience of a song. How does that affect the selection process?

Since it's a competition you only get two minutes and it's a very hard thing to get something tasteful and mind blowing. You don't want to wail up there the whole time and at the same time you can't be this soft tender thing. You've got to be able to conquer all of that. We work every day, every single day. It's been a lot of hard work.

Beyond providing advice on songs are you also talking to them about what it takes to go through this process based on your experiences?

The first four years of my career was crap. I was successful but I was so busy. The dream is to be successful but also be happy and that was one of my biggest reasons for doing the show. I know this sounds super cheesy, but I wish I would have had somebody there to hold my hand or at least say this is a poor decision or this is something you should really do or look out who you hire. I worked with a lot of great people, but there have been people who say 'we want you to be the biggest star in the world' and I say 'umm, that's not a goal of mine.' I want a life. I think it's important for them to figure what they want musically and how they want to live their life. I'd like to be able to help.

Are you happy now?

I love that I am in a relationship and that I have time for it. But I'm writing all this happy shit. It's killing me. I'm trying to write a tough song and it's coming out butterflies and rainbows.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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