Kelly Preps for 'International Idol'

12/15/2003 at 01:00 PM EST

Just in time for Christmas, here's a quick PEOPLE guide to the "International Idol" competition that will pit "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson and 10 other "Idols" from around the world in a contest to find the best of all. (FOX will air the sound-off, which is now filming in London, in the United States on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.)

In the running: cute Alexander Klaws, from Germany; tall and handsome Heinz Winckler, from South Africa; pixieish and hyperactive Alex Janosz, from Poland; Guy Sebastian, Australia's answer to Lenny Kravitz; curvy Jordanian Diana Karzon; smooth-looking Jamai Loman, from the Netherlands; cool Kurt Nilsen, from Norway; Belgium's Peter Evrard, sporting lots of hair and little respect for fashion rules; intellectual-looking Canadian Ryan Malcolm; and the two toughest competitors of all, the UK's Will Young and the states' Clarkson.

As for Young, who already looks like a star (tall, cute, sleek and stylish), he doesn't yet talk like one, and even has a shy side. "I don't know if it's the ultimate title, to be honest," he told PEOPLE on Monday, during a photo call with all the contestants. "I think it's a bit of a presumptuous title, actually. It's nice to be here, and I am treating it as a laugh. I am here to enjoy it."

On Kelly Clarkson, whom he met Sunday: "She is very good and a great singer." But when asked who he thinks will win, he replied, "I don't know."

When it came time to pose with the others, Young and Clarkson, who stood next to one another, were the photographers' favorites. Young also made Clarkson laugh a lot.

"Will's a great guy," Clarkson, 21, told PEOPLE. "You like him even when you don't know him and you listen to his music, and when you get to know him, he is the funniest guy. He's got a great sense of humor."

Asked whether winning the "International Idol" title would ensure lasting fame, Clarkson replied: "First off, I have sold over 2.5 million records worldwide, and it's been, like, almost two years. So, I have kind of been over that hill."

As for those who scoff at all this "Idol" business, she says: "People look at the 'American Idol' show as a talent show, but to be honest ... it's the complete opposite of how manufactured artists really are sometimes. Because we go on the show, we sing what we want, we wear what we want, we say what we want, it's completely us all the way around. ... It's pretty cool that the show lets us do that."

-- With additional reporting by DIMI GAIDATZI

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