Kelly Clarkson presides over NBC’s first Billboard Music Awards telecast


First ‘American Idol’ hosts as ceremony moves to NBC

Kelly Clarkson hosts the Billboard Music Awards, Sunday, May 20 on NBC.

Kelly Clarkson will use her voice in several ways on NBC in the coming days.

The first “American Idol” has spent recent weeks on her first season as a full-time coach and mentor on “The Voice,” which ends its 14th round Monday and Tuesday, May 21 and 22. She’s also in a Red Nose Day edition of “Hollywood Game Night” Thursday, May 24 … but first, Clarkson serves as host of the Billboard Music Awards – in the ceremony’s first NBC telecast after moving from ABC – on Sunday, May 20.

Among performers confirmed for the event, Shawn Mendes and Korean pop act BTS (both nominated for Top Social Artist) are scheduled to take the stage during the three-hour broadcast from Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. So are Camila Cabello (who has four nominations, including Top New Artist and Top Female Artist), Janet Jackson (who receives the Icon Award), John Legend, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Demi Lovato, Macklemore, Kesha, Salt-N-Pepa with En Vogue, Maren Morris with Zedd, and Dua Lipa. Ariana Grande is slated to open the show.

Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran are tied for the most Billboard Music Award nominations this year with 15 each. They’re followed by Post Malone (with 13), Imagine Dragons (11), Drake (nine), and Justin Bieber and Cardi B (eight each). Also figuring prominently into the competition – in which winners are determined from album and digital sales, radio airplay, streaming, touring and social-media engagement – are Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi, with seven bids each, and Taylor Swift (with five).


Bruno Mars is among the top nominees in the Billboard Music Awards, Sunday, May 20 on NBC.

Clarkson counts three Grammys among her own music honors … plus four American Music Awards, two Academy of Country Music Awards and a Country Music Association Award. Referring to “The Voice” as well as award shows, she admits with her typical candor to maintaining her own take on competitions, despite her new hosting role.

“I don’t know if it’s fair to ever compare,” she reflects, “because it’s a hard thing to do with any artist. That’s like saying Aretha Franklin is a better singer, or that Whitney Houston’s a better singer than Aretha Franklin because she sold more records. Well, that’s not true. They’re both undoubtedly amazing singers. It’s just that everybody has their own path.”

Clarkson goes as far as to say that she doesn’t think comparing artists is “ever a smart thing to do, especially when you just never know … especially if you’re building a career. Not every career is ‘overnight,’ like mine or some people’s. (That was) because it was a brand-new thing that nobody had ever heard. The stars were aligned, so you kind of have to take into context what all’s happening.”

Indeed, Clarkson believes artists shouldn’t be discounted just “because they haven’t reached Lady Gaga potential. They pay their bills and they live their dream, and I think that counts. And that matters.”


Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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