In the 16 years since she became American Idol’s first winner, Kelly Clarkson has taken home three Grammys, notched three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 and 11 top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Most recently, she released her favorite album to date, Meaning of Life, on her new label, Atlantic Records. But none of that, and not even her current coaching gig on NBC’s The Voice, prepared her for her next job: hosting the Billboard Music Awards live on May 20 (at 8 p.m. ET on NBC). “I’m terrified-slash-excited,” says the 36-year-old singer with a laugh. “I literally went from saying no to even presenting awards, to this. I keep telling people it’ll at least be funny to laugh at.” Ahead of her first-ever awards-show hosting gig, Clarkson spoke on the phone from Los Angeles about what to expect when a filter-free pop star takes over BBMAs hosting duties.
Your mother-in-law, Reba McEntire, recently hosted the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Did she give you any pointers?
She was just like, “Oh, Lord, just be you.” We’re so different, though. She’s such a professional. I never stick to a script; I ramble. Comedians are the best at [hosting]. Ellen [DeGeneres], Seth Meyers, James Corden -- they can push the envelope and address serious issues with dry humor. I don’t think of myself as funny, but I’m not afraid to make a subtle joke here or there.