Kelly Clarkson Finally Explains Why She Iced Out Simon Cowell Through Her Entire American Idol Run

Kelly Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show and Simon Cowell on America's Got Talent.
(Image credit: NBC)

In the early seasons of American Idol, it was one thing to win the votes of America, but it was quite another to survive the brutally honest criticism of OG judge Simon Cowell. On the panel that included him, Randy Jackson, and Paula Abdul, Cowell was notorious for not pulling his punches when commenting on anything from a contestant’s voice to their wardrobe to their song choice. Apparently Kelly Clarkson’s strategy in regards to Cowell was to ice him out, and two decades later, she came clean about her reasoning.

Kelly Clarkson recently celebrated the 20-year anniversary of her American Idol victory, and she did so in impressive fashion, as she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The talk show host reunited with the original Idol judges who changed her life, and during the ceremony, Simon Cowell recalled what happened the first time he approached the contestant on the show. He said (via People): 

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.’

I am here for that championship mentality! Kelly Clarkson was laser-focused, according to the famed record executive, and she straight up wanted to dictate her own path. The former Voice coach did interject to defend herself, lest Simon Cowell’s story make her sound rude, and 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.

There’s the truth! As well as wanting to respect the integrity of the competition, she also knew that keeping Simon Cowell at arms-length meant there would be no second-guessing her strategy due to any feedback he might have had. It was an admission two decades in the making, as the OG judge noted: 

It's taken her 20 years to get that out, my God. It's like a therapy session.

Getting a star on the Walk of Fame is a huge accomplishment for the multi-hyphenate, and it comes at an exciting time in her life. She revamped her Emmy-winning talk show ahead of its fourth season in order to take over the daytime TV time slot previously held by Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah (no big deal). And next year, the three-time Grammy winner will release her first album of original music since 2017.

Simon Cowell and Kelly Clarkson at Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony

(Image credit: Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Kelly Clarkson may have left Blake Shelton looking for a new rival when she stepped away from The Voice for its 22nd season, but fans can still catch her every weekday on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings to see what time and channel the show plays on. Also be sure to check out our 2022 TV Schedule to see what premieres are coming up. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.