Once and future "American Idol" queen Kelly Clarkson releases "All I Ever Wanted," her fourth CD, this week. She spoke with NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh.
Did you always know you were going to write half your songs on this album?
I've written different on every album. I think it's cool for fans to hear something straight from your head, and your heart.
One song, "I Do Not Hook Up," is written by Katy Perry.
I met her, like, a couple years ago, and it was before "I Kissed a Girl" blew up. I liked her writing. It was really unique.
Where do you normally write your songs?
Not in a normal place. I kind of write all over. I was just on a plane—oh, heck, where was I?—I was in Switzerland. I just started writing a song on a plane. I'm sometimes in my house in Texas, and I'll write something. Or I could be in a bar. I write everywhere.
You really sit in a bar and write?
There's a song called "Chivas" on my last album, the fans love it, I have to perform it everywhere or they'll yell at me.
Do you take paper with you?
No, I actually wrote that song on a napkin. The best part is, I came home and I kept trying to remember the melody; I was pretty inebriated, and I sang it into my Mac computer. Listening to the song the next day was pretty funny.
Before you called, I was watching your first "Idol" audition.
That was seven years ago. I probably was not that awesome.
You feel you're that different?
What's funny, people will say that to me. "We interviewed you right after 'Idol'; you're pretty much the same." I'm like, yep. I don't want to live in a sceney place. I live in Texas, right next to the town I grew up in. I genuinely just love doing music. I'm not really excited about the whole famous thing.
Would you have auditioned for the show if you didn't try out that first season?
Oh, definitely. What's funny is, our season was different than anybody else's. We didn't know it was a TV show until the third audition. We didn't know what we were getting into.
What did you think it was?
I just thought it was an audition. And they said you get paid. I was like, "Man, I need electricity, so I will do it."
Do you ever watch "American Idol" now?
Yeah. Whenever I can catch it. They always have the show on when I can't watch it. I'm either on tour or I'm in Europe. But I love watching it.
Do you ever vote?
No. I never even voted for myself.
You never voted for yourself? Why not?
I thought it was such bad karma. And I'm kind of just lazy.
Still friends with Clay Aiken?
Do you ever baby-sit for him?
Oh, my God. First of all, Clay would know better than to have me baby-sit his child.
Are you bad with kids?
I'm not, like, bad with them. I'm awesome at the aunt thing. I'll hang out with my oldest; out of all my nieces and nephews, the nephew is the oldest, he's 7. But I'm not really good with the whole baby thing. I don't do the diaper thing.
A lot of your songs are about how bad boys are.
Half of them are, like, boy bashing. The other half are from other people and their weird relationships. I've had really great boyfriends, actually. I've just had one really crappy one.
I've only had one bad boyfriend, and I happen to write music about it.
Does this one bad boyfriend know these songs are about him?
I'm pretty sure that's apparent, yeah. You're dating a creative person, it's obviously going to come out in my work. I don't think he cares, honestly.