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Kelly Clarkson's Goal for Hosting 2018 Billboard Music Awards: 'I Just Really Don't Want to Mess Up a Name'

When Kelly Clarkson sat down with Billboard on Thursday to talk about hosting the Billboard Music Awards this Sunday, she was already underneath bright lights while getting ready with a makeup artist she claimed was “the real artist” in the room. Leading up to the show, she's been quoted talking about how nervous she is for her first time as a host, and she's been told by everyone -- including mother-in-law and 2018 ACM Awards host Reba McEntire -- to just be herself.

It’s not stage fright that grips Clarkson; she’s also performing Sunday night, as she's done dozens of times before at awards shows, and has remained tight-lipped about her set list so far. What has her excited about the event is Janet Jackson, whom she’s been following since she was a little girl. “I’m excited about a lot of people,” Clarkson admits. “And if I’m not an avid fan, our oldest daughter is -- who’s coming, our 16-year-old [stepdaughter Savannah] -- so she keeps me cool.”

Hosting the BBMAs is one of Clarkson's many jobs. She’s also a full-time mother of four children with  husband Brandon Blackstock. The couple met at another music awards show, the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2006, when Blackstock was managing Rascal Flatts, who performed with Clarkson that night. She’s found love and life through music, ever since she was the 20-year-old girl who won American Idol in its very first season. And now, as a judge for another singing competition show, NBC’s The Voice, Clarkson loves giving back and celebrating others in the music industry.

“I am celebrating artists ... I just really don’t want to mess up a name,” Clarkson laughs.

When asked about the powerful performance of “Praying” by Kesha, Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper, Julia Michaels, Bebe Rexha and Andra Day at the 60th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year, along with an impactful monologue by Janelle Monae regarding the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Clarkson says she won't be the one bringing any particular message to this stage. She wants to keep the show “real basic” because she's terrified to host, but respects that other artists might have their own ideas. “I’m sure people will bring faith or politics and their interests into things, and that’s their prerogative, and I salute that and I support that,” she says.

She’s so busy with the show, she jokes that viewers will want to “vomit Kelly Clarkson by the end of it.” But that’s not the name she’s most concerned with for Sunday’s event: The “Since U Been Gone” artist is interested in Demi Lovato and Christina Aguilera’s power anthem “Fall in Line,” because she loves when “worlds collide” between female artists, and she also wants to make the night special for the rookies in the room. “A lot of these artists ... this is like their first or second awards show ever,” she says. “Like, that’s a really cool moment for an artist to make it to where you’re nominated, and it’s a big deal.”

Another big deal: Hitting the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time. “I think for any artist, just to be validated, that your work is liked, people like what you’re doing -- that’s a pretty incredible thing," she says. "I mean, I remember whenever I was first on the Billboard charts, and it was just one of those incredible things that was almost surreal.”

Clarkson’s first Hot 100 hit, the Idol coronation song “A Moment Like This,” debuted at No. 1 on Oct. 5, 2002, and remained there for two weeks. Now, 16 years later, Clarkson is hosting the moment where other singers celebrate their peak musical accomplishments.

“I don’t make music to be validated, but it is definitely for all artists an important thing at the end of the day for people to dig what you do,” she says.

And she digs what everyone is doing -- makeup artists included.

The Billboard Music Awards will broadcast live from Las Vegas on Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC.

Billboard Music Awards 2018

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