Lauren Alaina's back with her 'Next Boyfriend'

Lauren Alaina's back with her 'Next Boyfriend'

Country singer's new single drops today, EP release: Friday

September 28th, 2015 by Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment

On June 6, 2012, the final night of that year's Riverbend, Lauren Alaina was the headliner on the Coca-Cola Stage.

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

Lauren Alaina tracks

(with songs co-writers)

1. “Road Less Traveled” (Lauren Alaina, Jesse Frasure, Meghan Trainor)

2. “Holding the Other” (Lauren Alaina, Emily Weisband, Eric Olson)

3. “Next Boyfriend” (Lauren Alaina, Emily Weisband, Matt McVaney)

4. “Painting Pillows” (Lauren Alaina, Lindsay Jack Rimes, Alex Masters)

5. “History” (Lauren Alaina, Emily Weisband, Jesse Frasure)

Sealed With a Kiss

* Lauren Alaina is currently starring in a weekly, 10-episode series of webcasts for My Country Nation, a digital country lifestyle channel. Called “Sealed with a Kiss,” or “SWAK,” they are her original, humorous, five-minutes-or-less takes on issues faced by her peers as well as embarrassing moments in her career.

I actually wrote all the treatments for each of the episodes. I like to make people laugh. I don’t think people know that part of me as much. I really wanted to connect with my fans and show them my personality, things I’m thinking about.”

The singer is joined by her boyfriend, Alex Hopkins of Cleveland, Tenn., in “Boys Just Don’t Get It.” In that episode, she discusses how guys don’t understand how much time it takes for women to do their makeup, so she lets Hopkins put on her makeup to enlighten him.

“SWAK” can be accessed from My Country Nation’s Facebook page, twitter.com/lauren_alaina or on YouTube.

It's been four years since fans of Lauren Alaina heard any new music, but that changes today.

Alaina's new single, "Next Boyfriend," hit radio today — the lead single off her self-titled EP that comes out Friday. The EP includes five tracks that are a teaser for a full album set for release in 2016.

"I'm just really excited to open this new chapter for everyone to hear," the Rossville native says in a phone interview. "I wrote over 200 songs for this project and picked my top 12 for the album. On the EP there are five, and I think they are a good summary of what the album is going to be. I want to reintroduce everyone to me and give them an idea of how I've grown."

"Next Boyfriend" was released to iTunes on Sept. 18. With no fanfare, it was No. 28 on the country charts the night of its release and was No. 24 on Sept. 23, ahead of such heavy-hitting new releases as Blake Shelton's "Gonna," and Joe Nichols' "Freaks Like Me."

"It's exactly what she needed — a good hook song, good tempo," says Bill "Dex" Poindexter, on-air personality at WUSY-FM/US 101 radio.

The hook is its chorus:

"You look a lot like my next boyfriend

I can't believe how much you act like him

You and me, we'd be unbelievable

And I'm available

No, I don't think it's a coincidence

I put it all together, it makes sense

Boy, you ain't' no fling or a could've-been

You look a lot like my next boyfriend."

Alaina is a co-writer on all five of the EP's songs, including one written with pop star Meghan Trainor and three with Emily Weisband.

"I started writing with Meghan two years ago, before she had a record deal, and we really hit it off," Alaina says. "Meghan started her career in Nashville as a songwriter. I write every day when I'm in Nashville and I write with different songwriters. She wasn't an artist yet when we wrote 'Road Less Traveled' together. She tweeted 'Next Boyfriend' for me and I didn't ask her to do that. She's just awesome like that," Alaina says.

Weisband is a 22-year-old graduate of Belmont University who won ASCAP's Belmont Songwriter Showcase. She recently signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music and THIS music.

"Emily is my best friend. My manager is best friends with her publisher and that's how we met. She knows what I want to say, so it isn't like we're going in and 'working' when we write a song," says Alaina.

Lauren Alaina became a household name in 2011 during Season 10 of "American Idol," in which she finished runner-up to Scotty McCreery. She was just 15 years old during those five months of intense pressure and televised performances. She released her first single, "Like My Mother Does" following the show's finale, selling 121,000 copies in its first week. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut less than a month after the season ended.

Her first CD, "Wildflower," was released in October 2011, debuting at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. By age 16, she was opening for Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party Tour, joining Aldean onstage to perform Kelly Clarkson's half of Aldean's hit duet, "Don't You Wanna Stay." In 2012, she won New Artist of the Year at the American Country Awards. At 18, she moved to Nashville and began a songwriting career while also performing frequently at the Grand Ole Opry.

Then, in summer 2014, silence. After such high-profile appearances, the rising star seemed to drop off the radar. Vocal surgery had put a halt to her constant touring.

"I had polyps and they were hemorrhaging, continually bleeding and getting worse since I worked so much," she says. "I'd had them since I was a little girl and I never sang with my full range. I used to do a show and not be able to talk for 24 hours afterward. Now I don't have to worry about that."

She laughs as she recalls how she had to go for a month following surgery without talking. Once she could begin speaking, she was limited to five minutes total a day, then 10, gradually building to an hour a day.

"I had to be silent for a month! I never stop talking, that's all I do is talk. It wasn't easy, but it was probably easier to do because my entire future was on the line. I took it very seriously — but it was awful!"

Not only can she sing again, the singer says she was surprised to find surgery expanded her vocal range to almost twice its previous capability. And when Meghan Trainor had surgery for vocal hemorrhaging two months ago, she called her friend for advice.

As for her lack of any new music — October 2011 to October 2015, four years between albums — that's plenty of time to put a screeching halt to a new artist's career. Alaina, though, took it all in stride, using the new PR tools that have cropped up in recent years.

"I went through a lot of changes during that time — moving to Nashville, my parents divorcing, vocal surgery, starting songwriting," she says. "But the industry has changed so much because of social media; it's much easier to keep your fans engaged. I tried to let them know what was going on with me. I have a great group of people who follow me and believe in me. I've been really fortunate."

Now she's back not only with new music, but a new weekly webcast that she writes for My Country Nation and a new song commissioned by ESPN that she wrote and sang, "History." It airs on all of ESPN's coverage of college football.

"I don't think taking time out will hurt her success," says Poindexter. "Rushing to put something out would have hurt her more because you only get so many chances. I think her record company and her management were very wise. They've taken their time on this project, she has great songs and her voice sounds good."

"I was introduced at 15 and I'm almost 21 now," says the singer. "I want them to get to know who I am now."

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

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