Kelly Clarkson knows herself all too well.
"I'm going to cry, I know it," she predicted the night before the Grammys. "I'll be the dork. I know. I'm cool with it."
The singer figured the tears would fall during her bare-bones rendition of "Because of You" ("It's one thing to perform at the Grammys, which has been a dream of mine, but it's another thing to perform a song that I wrote when I was 16," she said), but they actually came earlier, during the first of her two wins (see "Mariah And Kanye Win, But In The End U2 — And Curveballs — Rule Grammy Night").
"It's almost stupid, really," she said backstage. "I mean, [beating] an ex-Beatle, something is wrong. It was some pretty stiff competition, which is why I didn't think I had a chance. And I didn't want to build myself up only to be let down. So when it happened I started shaking, and my best friend, she was sitting right next to me, was like, 'Yeah, OK, just stop shaking honey.' She was like, 'Sweetie, just go up on the stage.' "
After the Grammys, "Sweetie" went straight to Torino, Italy, for an Olympics concert and is now touring Europe, where her "record is just now blowing up." Along the way, Clarkson hopes to put a dent into the writing and recording of her third album. She's installed a recording studio in her tour bus and is working with her touring band.
"I've been writing with them for the past two years and we finally decided, 'Let's just nail it down. We've got great songs that we've been doing together, why don't we just go ahead,' " Clarkson said. "And everybody who has heard them has been loving it, so I'm down. I like doing that. I like keeping it in the family if it's good."
As a songwriter, Kelly considers the road to be rather inspiring.
"It's a great emotional state to write at when you're tired, because on the road you are going so many places, and being a little rundown can be good for you sometimes, like especially creatively," she explained. "Not so much your body, but it is an awesome environment."
So far, Clarkson has found herself veering in two different directions.
"Some of the stuff on the new album is very singer/songwriter, because I love people like Patty Griffin and Ryan Adams," she said. "And then there is other stuff that's real intense rock stuff, more rock than Breakaway. It's going to be a cool album."
Some of her favorite albums are conceptual projects that tell stories from beginning to end, so Clarkson hopes to be more experimental — with emphasis on the word "hope."
"Oh honey, I try to be more adventurous, but there are things called record labels. I love my record label but people are afraid to try new things, especially because record labels don't make the money they used to," Clarkson explained. "But we push 'em. This is going to be 10 steps away from Breakaway."
Kelly is also hoping to do some collaborating on the album.
"I just ran into the Black Eyed Peas, and I would love to do something with them, that would be cool, just something random," she said. "I ran into Chris Brown earlier today and he was like, 'We should do something together.' I dig him. I like music in general, so I'm always up for anything."
In the meantime, Clarkson is releasing one last single from Breakaway, or at least she's praying it will be the last. ("Good gosh. I mean I love my album, but I am really excited about the next one," she quipped.)
" 'Walk Away' is one of the brighter songs on the record," she said of the next single. "It's just one of those anthem songs where everybody is [bouncing their heads] in the car. And the whole song is just about if it's not working out, then just leave, don't stay and make it worse."
Once again, Kelly wrote the treatment for the video, even writing in a scene for her brother and one of her friends.
"The last two were a bit darker, so I decided to write a happier treatment," she said. "I usually tell the story, like with 'Hazel Eyes' and the same with 'Because of You,' but this one we wanted to make a bit more fun. I don't want to give it away, but it's a very funny video."
Clarkson shot the video last week in Los Angeles, where she was also able to finally catch up on a certain TV show.
"I'm always on the road, so I've never gotten to watch the show, but this time I've been here, and that is the weirdest thing," Clarkson said of "American Idol." "I'm not weirded out by people listening to me on the radio or being nominated for things, but what weirds me out is people singing my songs on that show" (see "Kelly Clarkson Licensing Songs For Use On 'Idol' After All").