The sixth season of "American Idol" is all over — save the Idols Live Tour — and while most of the world struggles to find a new reason to live (Tuesdays and Wednesdays feel so empty), newly crowned champ Jordin Sparks faces a struggle of a different sort: trying to stay sane.
"This is so intense. It's crazy," she laughed. "I haven't been home yet since I won. I was in L.A. and then New York, and now I'll finally get to go home and spend some time with my friends. I hope."
Such is life for the "Idol" princess. Since taking home the title last week (see "Sparks Flies: Jordin Takes 'American Idol' Crown" and "Jordin Marvels At 'American Idol' Win: 'My Heartbeat Was Pounding In My Ears' "), Sparks has been on a seemingly endless parade of interviews and promotional appearances. And it doesn't look like things will be slowing down anytime soon — quite the opposite, in fact. The show's summer tour kicks off July 6, and Sparks already has a deadline for her debut album. That means it's never too early to begin soliciting for collaborators, a list Sparks says includes a couple of crooners popular with the under-17 set.
"I'd love to do a duet with Mario or Chris Brown ... but let's see what happens," she said. "I have a lot of work ahead of me. I have a deadline [for my album] already. It should be out before Thanksgiving. And I'm going to be doing the tour and trying to find songs at the same time. And then after the tour, it's gonna be record, record, record, write, write, write."
And just what will Sparks' yet-untitled debut sound like? Well, according to her, a lot like ... pretty much everything.
"I can't really describe what I want it to sound like. I'm a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, a little bit pop, a little bit R&B," she said. "I listen to Nat King Cole and Patsy Cline and Bon Jovi and Heart and 'NSYNC and Britney and Christina and Justin Timberlake too. I want to mix it all together. I hope people like it. On the show, [you had to be] versatile. You had to do everything and twist it around and make it your own. So I'm used to being like that."
And while the pressure will undoubtedly be on Sparks to perform on par with former "Idol" champs, she said she's actually more worried about living up to another set of expectations: those of her young fans.
"The other day, I walked outside, and there were these two little girls out there, and they said, 'Jordin, you're my inspiration! I want to be like you!,' and it was so amazing," she said. "I get emotional about it, because I remember being a little girl and looking up to people. And now little girls are looking up to me, and I love it.
"Being a teenager is hard — I mean, you look at magazines, and it's in your face all the time — 'you've got to lose weight or change or you'll never make it' — and I want to change all that," she continued. "I want to break the mold and be somebody girls look up to. I'm not much of a partyer — I don't drink or anything like that — so I don't think you'll catch me out at all those types of things. I'm comfortable with who I am, and I don't want to change. I love being me. I was happy before 'Idol,' and I'll be happy after."