Since she first entered the spotlight as a finalist on American Idol in 2011, country artist Lauren Alaina has proven to be a consistent success as a singer, songwriter, live performer and actress. She was just 16 when she was the runner-up on season 10 of American Idol, and since then she has recorded a steady flow of hits as a solo artist, and she has sung duet hits with other artists.
Currently, Alaina has just released her third studio album, Sitting Pretty on Top of the World (on Mercury Nashville Records). The album is an impressive collection of 15 songs that contains her hit from last year, “Getting Good,” plus her new single on the charts, “Getting Over Him” (feat. Jon Pardi). All of the songs feature her strong, expressive singing voice, and she co-wrote 14 of the songs on the album.
Sitting Pretty on Top of the World is Alaina’s first album in four years, following her acclaimed second album, Road Less Traveled, that included her #1 hit, “Road Less Traveled.” For the new album, Alaina collaborated with several of Nashville’s top songwriters, including Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, David Garcia, Emily Weisband and her producer, Paul DiGiovanni. Notably, she also sings duets with Trisha Yearwood (on a new version of “Getting Good”) and pop artist Lukas Graham (on “What Do You Think Of?”).
Other highlights on the album include the heartfelt ballad, “It Was Me” (which Alaina calls the best song she’s written), the fun, sassy cut “When The Party’s Over,” “Good Ole Boy” and “Same Story, Different Saturday Night.”
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Alaina. But before we get started, here’s a rundown of her hit singles & albums, her duet hits, her awards and other projects.
After being the runner-up on American Idol, Alaina signed with Mercury Nashville Records and released her debut album in 2011, Wildflower. This album included her chart singles “Like My Mother Does,” “Georgia Peaches” and “Eighteen Inches.” Then in 2017, she released her album Road Less Traveled, which contained her singles “Road Less Traveled,” “Next Boyfriend” and “Doin’ Fine.”
Besides her hits as a solo artist, Alaina has had two number hits as a featured artist. She sang with Kane Brown on his big hit “What Ifs,” and she sang with Hardy on his hit, “One Beer.” She has also won several awards, including ACM’s New Female Vocalist of the Year, and CMT’s Breakthrough Video of the Year (for “Road Less Traveled”).
Here’s the video of Lauren Alaina’s new single, “Getting Over Him”
(feat. Jon Pardi).
In addition, Alaina has ventured into acting; she stars in the new Hallmark movie, Roadhouse Romance. On top of this, she is now an author. She wrote the book, Getting Good At Being You, which will be released in November and is published by HarperCollins.
Here’s our interview with Lauren Alaina. She talks about her new album, her recent hits and her songwriting. She also discusses the ups and downs of her personal life, and her transition from being a teenage star to becoming a more mature, adult artist.
DK: Your new album has a cool title, Sitting Pretty on Top of the World. How did you come up with this title for your album?
Lauren Alaina: I have a song on the album called “On Top Of The World,” and the hook of the song is, “Hitting rock bottom, sitting pretty on top of the world.” I took that last bit to name the album, and I did it for a couple reasons. The last few years in my professional life, I’ve been sitting pretty on top of the world. But in my personal life, I’ve been hitting rock bottom.
I had a lot of wonderful things going on in my career—I was on Dancing With The Stars, I had multiple number ones, I was out on the road touring. And (laughs) I was going through two very public breakups. Then I was home in this pandemic, and I was going for a walk, and it was when we were only allowed to go for walks with our masks on. We were completely shut down. And the weight of everything hit me all at once. I got sad, and then I got mad at myself for being sad, because given the circumstances of my life, I didn’t feel I had the right to be sad in that moment. But I was also living in the pandemic, and although we all think that somebody else has it worst than us, we sometimes forget that we’re allowed to feel our feelings. So I wrote it down on the walk, “Hitting rock bottom, sitting on top of the world,” about my struggles with depression. Then I ended up writing it a few weeks later with Sasha Sloan and Jordan Reynolds. I wanted to make the idea slightly more universal, so I made it about a breakup. But really, the song represents my emotional state over the last few years.
Here’s the lyric video of Lauren Alaina’s new song, “It Was Me.”
The other reason I named the album Sitting Pretty on Top of the World, is that I found healing, I’m empowered now, and I feel that title represents that side. So it’s kind of a double meaning for me.
DK: It’s been four years since you released your last album, Road Less Traveled. Can you talk about making your new album, and what you’ve been through the past four years?
Alaina: For me, Road Less Traveled was an album about becoming a woman. I was transitioning from being a teenage girl in the public eye, to being a young woman. And the songs were more about my own personal troubles and learning to love myself. With this album, Sitting Pretty on Top of the World, it feels like an album about being a woman, and realizing I still have to love myself and trust myself when others doubt. And I had a couple of situations that stopped me in my tracks, but I had to keep moving forward and find my own healing. This album walks you through that journey of finding my own healing.
DK: I like your current single, “Getting Over Him,” which features Jon Pardi. How did you write this song, and decide to team up with Jon Pardi?
Alaina: I wrote “Getting Over Him” with Emily Weisband and Paul DiGiovanni, who’s my producer. It was a fun one to write…I got the idea from one of my good friends. I’d been through those two breakups, and I was taking a break from guys and from dating. Then I started seeing this new guy, and pretty quickly after I started seeing him, I realized that it wasn’t going to work out. It was not lining up…sometimes you know that it’s not gonna work out. And I got really upset about it, because I was like…Great, here we go again, another strike. So I was complaining to my girlfriend about it; she’s one of my good friends. She says, “Listen. If the only thing that guy did was help you get over that last guy, and help you see that you can be with someone else, then I think he’s served his purpose.” And I was like, “Oh wow. You’re right.” Because when you go through a breakup, and you really care about the person, you think you’re never gonna care about somebody again. Until you meet someone new and care about somebody again. So I wrote down, “He was my get over him guy.” Then when I went in to write it, it changed into my “getting over him” guy.
Here’s the audio of Lauren Alaina’s new song, “Good Ole Boy.”
I didn’t want it to sound like I was just using this guy, because that wasn’t the situation. It ended up being a mutual thing. He had recently been through a breakup, and I’d been through a breakup, and I think we were important to each other, but we weren’t each other’s person. So that’s what I wrote about. Then after I described this guy in the song, I was thinking…Jon Pardi’s the perfect guy to be his character in this song. And boy, was I right (laughs).
DK: Two of my favorite songs on your new album are “It Was Me” and “When The Party’s Over.” They’re both very different songs, but really good. Can you talk about how you wrote those two songs?
Alaina: “It Was Me” is my favorite song that I’ve ever written. I wrote it with Hillary Lindsey; it was the two of us on that song. And I would say that’s the song that you can tell I’ve been to therapy (laughs). It takes a lot of self-awareness and healing after a breakup like that, to take ownership of your part of it.
I wanted to write a song for my first love, to tell him that it wasn’t that I didn’t love him…I just didn’t love me yet. And I had to go find the person that I’m supposed to be, and that I wish him well. So that was an important message for me to get out there, and that’s why it’s my favorite. I think it shows a lot of growth as a person and as an artist. And it’s traditionally country, and I was raised on traditional country. I think the reason that song came out that way is because I’ve been at home with my family. In this pandemic, I reconnected with my Southern self. So I really like that one, and thank you for liking it, too.
With “When The Party’s Over,” that’s just a fun song about a girl puttin’ her foot down. She’s saying, “This is not going to work for me, pal. I respect myself and you’re going to. And if you can’t, don’t call me.”
DK: Besides the songs we’ve talked about, what are your favorite songs on the album?
Alaina: One of my favorites is a song called “Good Ole Boy.” I like it, because I think it’s an important song for young women to hear. It says, “I know you’re a good ole boy, but you didn’t love me that good, ole boy.” What that song represents for me, is if someone’s not good for you right now, they’re not good for you. And someone can be a good person and not be good for you. Both of those things can be true.
Here’s the video of Lauren Alaina’s #1 hit, “Road Less Traveled.”
I was in a situation where I liked this guy and I saw a lot of potential in him. I thought if he just grew up a little bit, he’d be great. If he’d just do this…if he’d just do that. But the bottom line was, that’s not who he is right now. So that’s why it wasn’t gonna work. And I think it’s important for girls to hear that, because if someone’s not good for you, you can’t stick around and wait and hope that they’re gonna become good for you. So that was really important to share with young women.
DK: Going back a few years, my favorite song of yours is “Road Less Traveled.” What inspired you to write that song?
Alaina: I came into the public eye when I was 14 years old, and overnight everybody had an opinion about me. And I wasn’t fully able to handle that. It was quite a shock (to become famous), and I struggled with self-esteem issues and focused on the negative people on the internet, unfortunately. And I had an eating disorder for a while. Just a lot of personal struggles, and I wrote that song about not caring what the people on Facebook had to say about me. And the funny thing is, the people on Facebook gave me my first number one. So that worked out (laughs).
DK: I read that you’ve written a book that’s coming out soon, called Getting Good At Being You: Learning To Love Who God Made You to Be. How did you decide that you wanted to write this book?
Alaina: HarperCollins (book publisher) came to me with the opportunity of creating a gift book. Basically, it’s a gift book that you would give to someone in a time of need, or just to love on them or whatever. So this book is about my journey of becoming the woman that I am right now, and all the things I’ve gone through up to this moment. It’s not necessarily a memoir. It’s saying…”Hey, this is what I did to get through this, and you could try it too.” So it’s advice for young women to grow into themselves and believe in themselves, and become the best version of themselves, which is ultimately my goal as an artist. So the thought behind the book aligns with the music, which was really important to me.