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Page 1


 Clarkson admits a soft spot for hard music and a love of crowd-surfing and mosh pits ...



Page 2


 Kelly auditions and goes through four rounds before finally learning it's a TV show ...



Page 3


 The 'Idol' champ makes her mom cry, has advice for people expecting another ballad ...



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— by Corey Moss

BEVERLY HILLS — "She's a hoot," Kelly Clarkson says in her Texas drawl. "She's so crazy, like, so different from what you would picture."

 Kelly Clarkson photos
America's idol is recalling her collaboration with songwriter extraordinaire Diane Warren ("Rhythm of the Night," "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing"), but she might as well be describing herself.

Straight up, Clarkson is a hoot. And she's crazy and different than you'd think. She's a Southern belle with enough charm to win over Simon Cowell, but she's also got a bit of the other Kelly in her — Osbourne, that is.

She adores Reba McEntire but has a soft spot for Metallica.

  "Nobody believes I'm, like, the mosh pit girl ..." — Kelly Clarkson
"Everybody thinks it's hilarious that my favorite band is the Toadies," Clarkson says, toasting her fellow Texans as she sips bottled water in an RCA Records conference room, which is decked out with a killer sound system and a wet bar. "Nobody believes I'm, like, the mosh pit girl, I'm the bodysurfing girl at the concerts. Everybody sees me as little white Kelly from Texas who should be singing country or something."

The truth is she's a lot of both. Clarkson is the homecoming queen, the girl all the cliques like, even though she's not really in one. When it came time to title her debut album, Kelly wanted Pigeonhole This, as in, "Just try to categorize me!"

Clarkson's voice has been compared to Whitney Houston's or Mariah Carey's, but when it comes to personality, she's wildly different. She's an anti-diva. There's an edge to her, but when it come downs to it, she's the nicest pop star in the business.

All this makes perfect sense considering that less than a year ago, the voice behind the sappy record-breaking single "A Moment Like This" was hawking energy drinks from bar to bar. "Red Bull promo girl, that's what I was," Clarkson says with pride.

Of course, she didn't get as humble and hardworking as she is from punching just a single time clock. "I had so many jobs," she recalls. "I always had three or four at a time."

Still, she always made time for singing, and after graduating high school she decided to chase her dreams to Los Angeles and shop around a demo tape. Like so many kids who flock here with the world in their eyes, Kelly struggled.

"I had really bad experiences when I came out here that, you know, I can't talk about," she says. "Many doors slammed in the face."

Clarkson's months of misery were punctuated by her apartment burning down. She took it as a sign and moved back home to rural Burleson, Texas, the place where her diverse taste in music first developed. When she was growing up, her dad was into soul singers, her mom was into adult contemporary, her stepdad was into country rock, and her older brother was into metal.

All of these influences followed Kelly through the door to her first audition for something called "American Idol."




NEXT: Kelly auditions and goes through four rounds before finally learning it's a TV show ...
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Photo: RCA

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