Ian in Your Ear: Catching Up With Jordin Sparks

 Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic

Wondering what's going on with Jordin Sparks? I was too, especially after I was in love with her last hit, "Battlefield," and saw her open for Britney Spears before last year ended. Fortunately, we caught up with her right before the Alex's Lemonade Stand 4th Annual Lemon Ball, held Jan. 9, to raise money for cancer (where she performed my favorite hit). And yes, folks: She's definitely serious with her main squeeze now. Read on!

UsMagazine.com: Tell me a little bit about the charity you're involved with.

Jordin Sparks: I got involved with Mike & Ike and Alex's Lemonade Stand this summer while I was on tour, and I was really excited to be a part of it, because my family and I have been affected by cancer with friends and family members and different things like that, so I was really excited to be a part of it. And Alex's Lemonade Stand is actually to help raise money for childhood cancer; I think that no child should have to have cancer and have to go through all of that, so I'm really excited to be a part of it.

Us: Other than having family and friends that have been diagnosed with cancer, what else makes this charity so important to you?

JS: Well, it was pretty much brought up because Alex, the 8-year-old little girl, had cancer and she wanted to start something to help raise money for it, so she started doing lemonade stands to help raise money. To think of a young girl who's already fighting the disease to go out and say, "Hey. I'm going to try and do something myself," it really, really touched me and I just really love to be a part of something like that where people are proactive.

Us: So the new season of American Idol kicked off this week. How do you think Ellen Degeneres will fare as a new judge?

JS: I think she's going to do great, actually. I love her show. She was one of the first TV shows I went on when I won Idol, and she's so sweet and hilarious. [Ellen] has been watching Idol, and she comes from a consumer point-of-view. Like, "OK. Is this [who] I'm going to like or is this the kind of person I want to have on my show to promote their music?" But I love Paula [Abdul], and I'm really, really happy that I had her on my season. Paula's going to be fine, but I'm definitely going to tune in to see what it's going to be like with Ellen and how the judges all get along.

Us: How do you think her dynamic will be with the contestants and the other judges?

JS: As far as the contestants go, they're going to love her. Ellen's very sweet, and honest without being harsh. She's going to compliment Simon [Cowell] in that way. As far as the other judges go, I'm pretty sure she'll get along with them. She seems like she gets along well with everybody, but you never know.

Us: Going back to Simon, he's leaving after this season. How do you think the show will be different without him?

JS: Wow. Goodness. I definitely think there'll be a huge puzzle piece missing. Simon is a big reason a lot of people tune in. They want to see what he's going to say, and Simon is brutally honest. His underlying thing is he definitely wants to tell you the truth and help you get better. He just kind of says it in a odd, sort of roundabout way. He says what a lot of people are thinking, so I think without him, the judges are going to look around at each other and wonder "Should I say it? Should I not?" Simon will just go out and say it.

Us: Any new singles coming?

JS: I have a new single picked out for [release in] the U.K. called "Don't Let It Go To Your Head." I just got back from vacation. It was so awesome, and now to kick off the year, I'm doing my Super Bowl event in Miami to launch my new campaign called the "I'm M.A.D., Are You?" campaign. It's all about just saying something that you're frustrated or mad about and making a difference about it. So I'm really excited about that. You can go to JordinSparksExperience.com to find out more information. I think I'm going to tour some more this year. I would love to do House of Blues and theater-type shows where it's more intimate.

Us: You mentioned you just came back from vacation in Cabo for New Year's Eve with your boyfriend, Steph Jones. How was it?

JS: Things are good. He's a really great guy. It's still fairly new, so we're taking it step by step and day by day. But he's a good guy.

Us: Do you have plans to get engaged or anything more serious?

JS: Oh, goodness no. No. That is way down the road. I just turned 20. I am in no rush to get married at all!

For access to all our exclusive celebrity videos and interviews – Subscribe on Youtube!