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Simon Cowell Has Only the Nicest Comments About Kelly Clarkson: A Look at Their Friendship

More than two decades after Kelly Clarkson's history-making win on American IdolAmerica's Got Talent's Simon Cowell has made his feelings about the pop star clear.

By Jill Sederstrom

Simon Cowell has made a career of finding some of our country’s greatest talent on America’s Got Talent and his past gig on American Idol — but Cowell credits his own success to a well-known Coach on The Voice. 

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Cowell has said that he wouldn’t be “here today” if it wasn’t for Kelly Clarkson, who helped secure his long-standing role as America’s favorite judge by becoming the first person ever to win American Idol back in 2002. 

What Does Simon Cowell Think of Kelly Clarkson?

“Thanks to you, I’m here today,” he told Clarkson as she got her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last year, according to Billboard. “You validated what we did. If we didn’t find a star, there’s no point in doing these shows.” 

Simon Cowell appears in Season 1 Episode 1 of America's Got Talent All-Stars.

Clarkson’s win not only launched her own career, it launched American Idol. The show’s massive following established Cowell as a household name in America, but he was quick to point out the success of American Idol wasn’t exactly a foregone conclusion.

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"I actually thought I was being punked on the first day. Paula [Abdul] resigned, every singer was out of tune, and I thought, 'Well this is a joke.' It got worse, progressively," he recounted, according to PEOPLE. "So I thought this is an absolute disaster. Like, why did I come here?"

It all turned around, according to Cowell, the first day the judges met Clarkson during her audition for the show. 

“I remember not just your voice, but your personality,” he told the three-time Grammy winner. “I’m gonna be honest here, I didn’t realize at that point, honestly how good you were. I just liked you. And I was so thankful.” 

Clarkson would go on to win the competition and release her number one single “A Moment Like This.” 

In the years that have followed, Clarkson has released 10 albums with chart-topping hits like “Since U Been Gone,” “Miss Independent,” and “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger),”  launched her own talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show, and won three Grammys. 

In 2018, Clarkson decided to share the tips she’s picked up along the way with upcoming artists as a Coach on The Voice. 

“I’m so excited to join The Voice at NBC,” Clarkson said at the time, according to Variety. “We’ve gone back and forth about a role as a coach for years, but the timing hasn’t been right until now. I have always loved appearing on the show as an adviser or performer and established an amazing relationship with the network during my Christmas special. I can’t wait to turn my chair and see the faces of up-and-coming artists and provide them with the help and support they’ve needed to break into the industry.” 

Are Simon Cowell and Kelly Clarkson Still Friends?

Kelly Clarkson sits on a talk show couch, smiling.

With her gig on The Voice and her successful new talk show under her belt, Cowell has quickly became one of her biggest cheerleaders. 

He appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show in the early days of the talk show in 2019, along with American Idol OG judges Abdul and Randy Jackson to extol her virtues. 

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“You are the same person off-camera as you are on camera,” he told her,  according to Good Housekeeping. “You’ve always respected people and you’ve been very loyal and you’re a great friend. I’m absolutely thrilled for you, genuinely.”

Cowell isn’t the only one to treasure the bond the two share. According to PEOPLE, Clarkson gave the introductory remarks in 2018 when Cowell was getting his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

“He’s the best friend you can ever have,” she said. “He’s honest and supportive.”

Clarkson also stepped in for Cowell as a Judge on America’s Got Talent in 2020 after he broke his back and needed to recover from surgery.

The pair later reminisced about her stint on the talent competition on The Kelly Clarkson Show.

"I was watching in bed that night, and as I was watching I was thinking, 'You're actually doing too well,'" Cowell recalled, according to Entertainment Tonight.

These days, when aspiring stars asks Cowell how to find success in the music industry, he tells them to “Follow Kelly.”

"I use you as an example. I genuinely mean this: You're one of the nicest people I've ever met. Most loyal I can say that because we've known each other a long time. But if people ever say, 'What advice can you give me?' I just say, 'Follow Kelly,’” he told her in 2021, according to Yahoo Entertainment.

It’s clear these two have nothing but respect for one another even two decades after her history-making win.