A former American pop idol offers Kelly Clarkson advice. Eight-times platinum artist Joey McIntyre explains how the ''American Idol'' winner can move beyond Simon's brand of pop schlock
Joey McIntyre, Kelly Clarkson
Credit: Kelly Clarkson: Debbie VanStory/ImageDirect; Joseph McIntyre: Steve Granitz/WireImage.com

Kelly Clarkson may have won ”American Idol,” but outsinging the likes of tune-challenged Nikki is nothing compared to the singer’s next challenge: surviving pop stardom. Just ask former New Kid on the Block Joey McIntyre. Thrust into the spotlight at age 12, the Boston native became a platinum selling artist (1988’s ”Hangin’ Tough” sold 8 million copies) who couldn’t get no respect from critics.

Since NKOTB split up in 1994, McIntyre has had a modestly successful solo career (1999’s ”Stay the Same” went gold) and he recently joined the cast of ”Boston Public.” Even better, he’s not in rehab or knocking over liquor stores. EW.com asked the former pop idol what Clarkson can do to bypass the pitfalls of sudden success.

What did you think of the final three contestants?
When Justin and Nikki sang, it was like watching a train wreck. I told a friend of mine, ”Man, I could judge, host, and win this f—ing contest!” But then Kelly came out, and I thought, ”Hey, maybe I couldn’t win after all.” The show was lucky to have her.

Kelly’s obviously talented, but is that enough to make her a star?
She has an amazing voice, but the really cool thing about her is she’s not only adorable, she’s a normal looking girl. That’s so great in this society of Christina Aguilera’s and Britney Spears. There are all these billboards of Kelly around L.A. right now, and she’s just got the best, most natural smile.

What do you think of that drippy single, ”A Moment Like This”? Is Kelly doomed to be a second rate Celine?
You know, that song’s going to be a hit. They may have taken the 5 best parts from songs of the last 20 years to make it, but I’ll admit it, I keep singing it. And yes, even though the album’s probably going to be kind of schlocky, it’s going to do really well. And hopefully on the next album she’ll be able to do more of what she wants to do.

What does Kelly need to do to survive the pressure cooker of fame?
For anyone it really comes down to family. I loved that her mother was crying during the final episode while her father was chewing gum, chomping away like he was watching a baseball game. That was perfect! On the other hand, Justin’s father, the prodigal father, was singing and grooving in $2,000 suits that you know Justin is going to be paying for a week from now.

Will Kelly always be stuck with the ”American Idol” label?
When I had a top 10 record as a solo act, I thought, No one will ever call me a New Kid on the Block again. But that’s just not true. So the important thing is that, when you’re doing what’s right for you, you don’t worry about that as much. It’s hard not to get caught up in the whirlwind of fame, and the New Kids definitely went through it, but that’s where family and your friends become so important.

Kelly is surely being swarmed with fans everywhere she goes. What’s the pop star secret to surviving the onslaught?
I’m honest with my fans. If I’m playing a concert and they won’t stop calling out for old songs, I’ll say, ”C’mon, no more New Kids s—.” But as my father would say, ”It’s showbiz. You can’t take yourself too seriously.”

Any pointers for the other finalists?
Sorry, but Nikki couldn’t sing her way out of a paper bag. But she should do eight shows a week in Vegas. That would be cool.

Episode Recaps

American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.

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