Kelly Clarkson Explains Why She Told Simon Cowell, ‘Stay Away from Me’

Simon Cowell Kelly Clarkson

Getty Simon Cowell & Kelly Clarkson at Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony.

Twenty years ago, few people had ever heard of Kelly Clarkson. She went from complete obscurity to superstardom thanks primarily to “American Idol.” Even if the former “Voice” coach hadn’t won the inaugural season of AI, she was so popular with fans that the show still would have probably changed her life.

During the first season of “American Idol,” the judges consisted of: the sweet and supportive, Paula Abdul; the no-nonsense, Randy Jackson; and the often rude and cruel, Simon Cowell. According to Cinema Blend, “Cowell was notorious for not pulling his punches when commenting on anything from a contestant’s voice to their wardrobe to their song choice.”

Clarkson Wanted Nothing to Do with Cowell

On September 19, 2022, a ceremony was held on Hollywood Boulevard to celebrate Clarkson receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. All three original judges showed up to help her revel in the honor. The event also roughly marked the 20-year anniversary of the show’s inception.

While in attendance, Cowell revealed some surprising information about when he and Clarkson first met. According to People, Cowell reminded Clarkson, “I went up to you afterwards because, obviously, I was thinking, ‘I think you’re gonna win this show.’ I said, ‘I just want to say, that was amazing, Kelly, and I am here.’ You turned around to me and said, ‘Simon… Without being rude, I would much rather we do not talk — seriously until the end of the series.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow, what does that mean? It means stay away from me. I know what I’m doing. I’m focused.'”

This was, undoubtedly, an unusual exchange for an up-and-coming artist and a successful music producer to have. But Clarkson had her reasons. As People reported, Clarkson explained, “I didn’t wanna talk to anyone involved that was voting us through. I was just trying to be respectful. Also, I didn’t want you getting in my head — you mess with all those people.”

Cowell, who didn’t know what to make of Clarkson at the time, professed, “It’s taken her 20 years to get that out, my God. It’s like a therapy session.”

The Fences Have Been Mended

Even though Clarkson snubbed Cowell at the beginning, their friendship has grown very strong over the years. Clarkson even sat in for Cowell as a judge on “America’s Got Talent” when he injured his back in 2021.

The two discussed the occasion on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” on May 25, 2021. Clarkson admitted she was nervous, declaring, “I was like, who fills in for fricking Simon Cowell?”

Cowell replied, “Well, I’ve got to hand it to you, because you know, we were a bit of a loose end and someone said, you know, do you think Kelly would do it?” Cowell had complete confidence in her: “I said, ‘I promise you, if Kelly’s free, she’ll do it,’” the 62-year-old recalled. Fortunately, Clarkson was available and did an amazing job, according to Cowell – “almost too good,” he joked.

During the Walk of Fame event, Cowell continued to sing Clarkson’s praises, telling her, “I remember that moment when your name was called, and I was thinking to myself, ‘Thanks to you, we may have another season.’ I can honestly say to you, thanks to you. You validated what we did, because if we didn’t find a star, there was no point in doing these shows,” People reports.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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