"It's been a big year," Maren Morris tells Chelsea Handler in a new episode of the comedian's Netflix series Chelsea, streaming Thursday, December 15th, at 12:01 am PST on Netflix.com/Chelsea.
Recorded during the singer's cross-country tour with Keith Urban, the interview finds the two women sitting in Morris' bus outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, one month before Morris took home the CMA trophy for New Artist of the Year – and well before she was nominated for four Grammy Awards this month.
Morris and Handler cover a lot of ground during their conversation, whose quick running time — the approximate length of Morris' current single, "'80s Mercedes" — still makes room for jabs at reality-TV singing competitions and an insider's look into her pre-show warm-up. Here are five highlights of the interview, as well as an exclusive clip premiering above.
1. Years before releasing her major-label debut, a young Morris auditioned for American Idol – but didn't make the cut.
"I tried out," admits the Best New Artist Grammy nominee, who didn't even receive a callback. "I think I was 17. I did the cattle call audition, and it's not for the judges – it's for the producers. I didn't even get past that round. I did the walk of shame out of the stadium and never made it any further."
2. Morris sees the irony in reality-show contestants now singing her songs, like "My Church."
"I'm actually really happy I didn't make it onto any of the shows I tried out for," she adds, "because I took a much longer road, but it's on my terms now." After Handler points out that contestants on prime-time singing competitions are now performing Morris' songs on air, she just smiles, adding, "That's the full circle irony."
3. She blasts away any preshow jitters with Nineties R&B and tequila.
"Right before I go out, we usually put on some Lauryn Hill or Fugees, and I'll do a shot of tequila, just to calm my nerves," she says of her warm-up routine. "These are big shows. I've literally come from honky-tonks into this shit. It's 20,000 people sometimes. I'm confident, but I'm also scared shitless, and I think that's a nice medium to be living in."
4. Morris has cracked the secret celebrity code.
Almost everyone doesn't have a clue, she says. "I think it's so liberating when you realize no one knows what they're doing. That's so fucking funny to me."
5. She sees no harm in an occasional crotch flash.
Her golden rule: don't take yourself too seriously. "It's exhausting to be that way," Morris tells Handler. "I look at some celebrities, and I'm like, 'Just flash your beaver or walk out of a club hammered or something … Just be a person for two seconds, and then you can go back to being prissy and perfect.'"