It’s been four years since the release of Lauren Alaina’s debut album, Wildflower, but now the former American Idol runner-up has returned with a bold new look and sound. A self-titled, five-song EP was released on October 2nd (a set-up for a full album on the way), bolstered by the peppy new single “Next Boyfriend.”
A propulsive radio-ready song that emphasizes Alaina’s new, pop-styled vocal delivery, the flirty track is mature and romantically confident — new territory that shows how much the almost-21-year-old Georgia native has evolved since her Idol days. With lyrics painting her new crush as an irresistible bad boy, “Next Boyfriend” was co-written by the singer with Emily Weisband and Matt McVaney, and gets a big dose of energy with a soaring, late-song flourish from Alaina reminiscent of Rihanna or Beyoncé. (Listen to the song below.)
In the four years since Wildflower — which also included vocal-cord surgery in 2014 — Alaina has said she feels like a totally new artist. Aside from the stronger, wider range of her voice and her trimmed-and-toned look, she’s also taken a big step into songwriting. She co-wrote all five songs on the new EP, including one with her good friend and pop star Meghan Trainor.
“I’m just really excited to open this new chapter for everyone to hear,” she told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “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.”
No word yet on when the full album will be released. Alaina will perform October 17th in Hatfield, Massachusetts.