Allison Iraheta is ready to rock — figuratively and literally. American Idol‘s season 8 third runner-up is slated to release her debut album Dec. 1 via 19 Recordings/Jive, and from the sounds of it, the record will have even more grit and grime than her radio-ready lead single “Friday I’ll Be Over U,” which was leaked to the Web last week. I recently caught up with Iraheta via phone to talk to her about her lack of conversational self-editing, her time in the studio with hitmaker Max Martin (“Since U Been Gone,” “Oops!…I Did It Again”) and her favorite songs from her post-Idol recording sessions. Read on…and to get alerts on all my Idol coverage, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak!
So let’s talk about “Friday I’ll Be Over U.” It’s got a rock edge to it, but it’s definitely poppy. Was this a strategic move on your part, an attempt to get radio to give you a shot?
That song, the first time I heard it, I loved it. And I was thinking, yeah, it might have a little bit of the pop sound to it, but I don’t mind that at all. I can definitely do harder than this, and I’m gonna. But I thought for a first single, “Friday I’ll Be Over U,” we all agreed would be something that would get people’s attention. You’ve got to get in that door. Know what I mean?
What about fans who complained the song doesn’t rock hard enough? What would you say to them?
There’s more to come. And as a first single, I think “Friday I’ll Be Over U” is pretty damn awesome, and a perfect choice. Because [adopts robot voice] In the music business I’m assuming you’re supposed to grab the attention of all audiences so you can get sales and whatnot, blah blah blah. For the album, there’s some harder stuff I’m really excited about, but I’m pretty damn happy with “Friday I’ll Be Over U.”
What was it like working with Max Martin on the single? He’s produced more hits for more artists than we can even begin to get into…
He’s amazing. And he don’t play! He’s definitely like “We’re gonna do this like this.” But he’s such an amazing person. And there’s a way he transmits energy, he knows how to tell you how to do things without making it awkward and whatnot.
Tell me about one of the other songs you’ve recorded that you love.
There’s a “Beat Me Up” out there. It’s pretty damn amazing.
Did you say “Beat Me Up”? What?
Yeah, yeah, I said “Beat Me Up.” That’s the name of the song.
Who’s responsible for this?
It’s a Kevin Rudolf song.
What’s it about? What’s the subject?
Subject: “Beat Me Up.” Hmmm. [Laughs.] It’s a pretty rad song. This chick likes being mistreated by her guy. A lot of girls out there, they like that! And it’s kind of sad, but y’know, that’s just the way she is. Not that I’m like that because I’d beat the hell out of whoever the hell mistreats me! I put myself in another girl’s shoes, so it’s a pretty cool song.
Have you been doing any writing?
Before tour I was writing, doing some stuff with David Hodges, and some other people.
So will some of the songs you wrote make the album?
Maybe. We’re gonna work on it some more and see what happens.
Give me the title of your favorite song you’ve had a hand in writing.
“You Don’t Know Me.”
Who did you write that with?
The title might be self-explanatory, but tell me what it’s about anyway.
It’s out there for people who pre-judge, who pretty much judge a book by its cover. It’s pretty simple, but it definitely focuses on how people talk before they even know someone or something, how they talk out of their butts and they just don’t know what they’re saying.
You just finished touring last month, and you have your album due the beginning of December. What’s it been like putting an album together under the kind of time pressure you’re facing?
Yeah, man, it’s so crazy. Time has flown by so fast and a lot has been accomplished. It’s been a whirlwind and I’ve still got to punch myself a couple of times because I still can’t believe it.
So I have to ask you, last week on the AOL welcome page, there was a picture of you accompanied by a headline to the effect of — and I’m paraphrasing here — “former Idol contestant says show is about favoritism, not singing.”
Yeah, I think they were referencing your quote in an interview with PopEater where they asked you about the criticism you received on the show. [For the record, Allison’s response read as follows: “It’s hard to take at first, but people should be prepared before they audition. The whole show of Idol is not about your singing. It’s pretty much… it’s favoritism. I don’t know, but that’s pretty much what it is.“
[In mock horror.] Dear God!
Is that not exactly what you meant?
Oh God. Totally out of context! You know, especially being on Idol, it’s preparation for things like that. That’s gonna happen. But I gotta watch out for things, especially myself, sometimes I don’t think before I talk and I really don’t realize what I’m saying, and it comes out wrong. And it happens to everybody, but it’s kind of crazy. I didn’t know about that [AOL article] and that it’s all straight crazy now. [Laughs.] It’s straight crazy! But come on, I didn’t mean it like that. Obviously, people know what I mean. Whatevs. I don’t need to explain.
I think that’s the correct response. An interesting thing about you on Idol, and now on Twitter, you speak from the gut, say what’s on your mind, whether it’s funny or crazy. It makes you different from other artists your age who are so busy crafting their soundbites because they’re afraid of saying the “wrong” thing. It’s nice that you haven’t been media-trained into submission. Do you have people in your life who are like “be careful about what you say”?
That’s everyone. That’s everybody! I mean, I say things, and sometimes Tweet things that are kind of gross. I get the [puts on disapproving adult voice] “You gotta stop that nonsense! That’s gross! What’s wrong with you?” But I could be doing worse on Twitter. I could actually be Tweeting while I’m in the bathroom — okay, I’m gonna stop right now! It could be worse. It could always be worse.
There’s nothing wrong with a Mr. Hanky reference on Twitter, like when you referenced that your dogs had stunk up your bedroom while you were asleep.
There’s nothing wrong [Tweeting about] waking up to the smells of Mr. Hanky. Come on!
More from EW’s Music Mix
Kris Allen’s self-titled album cover revealed! (And the five things we learned from it.)
Adam Lambert’s ‘Time for Miracles': 29-second leak may cause sweating, palpatations
Susan Boyle CD track list announced: There will be Madonna (and much more)
Kris Allen on songwriting collaborators, video concepts, and nasty rumors about his debut disc
Allison Iraheta’s ‘Friday I’ll Be Over U': Does the teen ‘Idol’ have a hit on her hands?
Adam Lambert vs. Susan Boyle: Which Nov. 24 record release has you more excited?
Kris Allen’s ‘Live Like We’re Dying': What do you think?
Raw and rare gospel: An EW exclusive from the Mississippi Nightingales (Allison would want you to listen to this one, Idoloonies! I am almost certain of it!)