'American Idol' runner-up Lauren Alaina shows off her winning attitude
The atmosphere was warm and neighborly as Lauren Alaina took questions from reporters over the phone Thursday about ending Season 10 of "American Idol" as runner-up to her good pal and fellow country-music-singing teen Scotty McCreery. (She seemed particularly thrilled to hear from a reporter from her hometown paper, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, who told her how proud the area was of her. Awww.)
The conversation felt a bit like sipping sweet tea on the porch with the nice girl from down the way. In all, though she said she thought she might be coming down with a bit of a cold, Alaina seemed like she was in good spirits as she reflected on her "Idol" run and what her future might hold.
Here's some of what she had to say:
On the difficulty of performing on the finale after a vocal-cord injury
You know, the show must go on always. And the doctor came in and took really good care of me and he got my voice to as good as he could. I just had to go out there and do the best that I could.
On why she loves country music
I was raised on country music. My parents love country music. And it just is in my heart.
On why she decided not to use her last name, Suddeth, when competing on "Idol"
I chose not to use Suddeth because people never pronounce it right, and I knew Ryan Seacrest would have a terrible time trying to say my last name. So I just went with Alaina because … it kind of rolls off the tongue easier. But I will always be Lauren Suddeth. Always.
On whether she and Scotty are boyfriend and girlfriend
No, we're not. We're just friends.
On losing weight during her "Idol" run, and whether she plans to continue
It was actually 16 pounds [that I lost] in all … I haven't been able to work out for a couple of weeks because I've been super busy getting ready for the finale and everything, but during tour I'm going to work out and I'm going to get to the point where I want to be. Not where anyone else wants me to be, but where I want to be.
On whether she ever wished she'd waited a few years to compete on "Idol"
No, I feel like people misjudge young people because they think they're not ready, but I feel like if something's your dream and you know what you want, you should go for it.
On losing her confidence and getting it back during her time on "Idol"
I had a lot of confidence before the show, and then seeing myself on TV and being my worst critic threw me back a couple of notches. But I thought that was a good thing. I needed to realize that there's always something you can work on about yourself, and the things that I didn't like about myself I worked on the whole time that I was on the show and really tried to improve myself. … I felt like it was really helpful for me to grow as a person and as an artist ... Each week I learned something new.
On what she'd like people to know about her that they might not know from watching her on "Idol"
I'm not really a blond. People call me a dumb blond, but I'm actually really smart. I like to go to school and my favorite subject is math. I like going to school more than anything probably.
On what Scotty whispered to her at the end of Tuesday night's performance show
He told me I was going to win, and I said, no, Scotty, you're gonna win.
On what was going through her head when Ryan said "Dim the lights …" on Wednesday"
I had a feeling it was going to be Scotty, but I feel like things happen for a reason and God has a different plan for me.
On whether being in the top two made it harder not to have emerged the winner
Not really because there's hundreds of thousands of people out there who would love to be second place in 'American Idol,' and I'm very fortunate to have made it to the point that I did.
On the celebrity she met Wednesday night that most blew her mind
Just being able to sing with Carrie Underwood just kind of set off the whole night. She's amazing. She's my idol.
On why she is genuinely happy for Scotty
I will be happy for Scotty forever because we are great friends. … I have been saying all along that, no matter what happened, if it came down to me and Scotty, that I would be happy either way because we're such great friends. And I truly mean that, because he is so talented. He's got the look. He sings the same kind of music I sing. And he loves Jesus. And I couldn't have picked a better person to get second place to than him.
On her role models and becoming a role model herself
You know, I am a huge country music fan, and there are so many girls that I look up to, especially Carrie Underwood. … I've shouted that one out loud for a while now. And … talking with her [Wednesday night] I could tell that she genuinely cared that I was there … We went to a party last night for the contestants after the show, and she invited me back to her area and let me sit with her and talk to her, and it was amazing to see that someone that I had looked up to for so long was actually the person that I thought they were.
I want little girls and girls my age to feel that way about me when they meet me, to know that I am actually the way that I am portrayed on TV. I'm not fake, and I don't want to mislead people as to who I am. I cut up, I tell jokes a lot, but I can be serious too. And I cry a lot and everyone knows that. That's just who I am.
So I plan on not changing who I am for anything. I just want to stay true to who I am and have my little country route and let it be available for little girls to look up to me. Because it would be the greatest feeling in the world for some little girl to look up to me the way I look up to [Carrie Underwood]. And I'm still a little girl, so I've got plenty of time to make that a possibility.
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: Lauren Alaina during the "American Idol" finale Wednesday in Los Angeles. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox