Allison Iraheta on new track titles, songs about abusive boyfriends, and trouble with Twitter

Allison-Iraheta-Idol_l

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?
David Hodges.

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.”
What?

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!

[ewbrightcove “44797711001”, “23069430001”, “525”, “365”]

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!)

Comments (183 total) Add your comment
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  • Mari

    OMG I love her unfiltered self, she’s awesome. I’m so looking forward to her album.

    • Chichi

      I heart this girl, too. She acts like a normal teenager. She isn’t cloyingly over produced, she has heart and passion and it comes across as pure unadulterated self-awareness. And she can SANG!

      • Allie

        yes!

    • Shana

      She’s awesome. There’s no need for a filter. I’m glad she’s herself, no matter what. She doesn’t hold back yet at the same time she isn’t all in your face either, the perfect balance. GO ALLISON!!!!!!!

  • Missy

    I love allison, I do. And I have really grown to like her new single and look forward to her album, but this interview DID NOT endear her to me. She comes off as obnoxious and very immature. Oh well, her voice is killer so I’ll focus on that…

    • Shaunki

      shelleyajones – WOW! What wonderful pteiurcs. You are amazing. Your ability to get such great pteiurcs so quickly and capture the special moments with the awesome lighting is amazing. I will definitely tell anyone I know getting married to use you. Thank you to you and your husband!

  • Kiki

    I sincerely hope that the Beat Me Up song is NOT truly about a girl who likes being abused. Because if so, that’s sick and I’d be very disappointed in Allison and her record label and her team. I am hoping that at the end of the song the girl realizes that being hurt is bad and gets empowered. If not… DNW ever.

    • Kate

      I think she meant that girls that do get hurt, but don’t leave their boyfriends

    • talkin’

      ditto ditto ditto to original comment

    • Mark

      I have two thoughts about that; A.Since when did every song become an endorsement of it’s subject matter? I’d hate to see art be limited so. And B. if you get your head out of the term “abuse” (think; she’s probably not referring to physical violence), there are *plenty* of songs like this. It’s not an usual subject matter at all. Plenty of songs about girls wanting the “rougher” guy, if you will.

      • Mark

        OK, probably should clarify this a bit. I’m not endorsing the subject matter myself per se. That’s not in my interest. But, considering that it’s probably metaphor, and it’s probably *not* actually endorsing the impulse, I have a hard time indicting either the song or her enthusiasm of it. Could she be more eloquent? Sure. Do I really feel like I have to ask that of her? If it means sacrificing honesty and directness, I’d rather not.

      • D

        Do you have EXAMPLES of such songs? It is alarming the way she has described this song in this interview. I’d have to see the exact lyrics before I could judge any further though.

    • LoveDaRocker

      Mark says: “she probably not referring to physical violence”
      “Beat me up” sounds pretty physical to me. I am hoping the song makes clear it is a metaphore.

    • chessguy99

      Leona Lewis got this same kind of response to Bleeding Love. I saw people posting on various boards, freaking out because of the theme of the song. There are just relationships that are that one-sided and people who are really that blind to what is happening in a relationship.

  • Alyssa

    hahahah. allison rocks! I friggin’ love all her answers! love all the scoop you got on her songs!! slezak you “da best”!!

  • @HolyShiZZZ on twitter

    Slezak Delivers again WITH STYLE, THANK YOU LOVE YOU SLEZAK. LOVE YOU ALLLISONNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!
    OMG LOVE LOVE YOU GUYS SF HARD ITS DISGUSTING LOL

  • Penny

    Another awesome interview Michael. Allison really has her stuff together and knows who she is. I can’t wait to hear the reat of her album, I’m sure that it will be great.

  • @HolyShiZZZ on twitter

    MISSY KIKI STFU AND TAKE YOUR ******* FAIL WITH YOU, THANKS

  • @HolyShiZZZ on twitter

    SLEZAK AND ALLISON WORD FROM THE WISE

    “dont hate the haters. They dont hate u, they hate that they love everything about u. its a sick n twisted compliment.”

    RESPECT HOMIES RESPECT ;)

  • Eva in Oakland

    Slezak,

    Always nice to “hear” from Miz Allison. Thanks so much for this latest scoop!

  • Sydney

    “BEAT ME UP” AS A TITLE MAKES ME GAG. DNFW. I really, really hope she’s misrepresenting the song.

    • Sarah

      Agreed! The concept is gross. And her laughing about it and saying it’s rad…so inappropriate.

      • sara

        you haven’t even heard the song yet! Face the facts, there ARE girls out there, esp girls Allison’s age who ENJOY being mistreated by their boyfriends. She said she’s stepping into the role of another girl, that SHE would never let someone mistreat her. People need to calm down.

    • talkin’

      agree

    • Ethel Merman

      As a woman who got knocked around a lot by her husband, the song title horrifies me to no end. I think only someone who hasn’t been in those shoes could have the attitude Allison has about it. Plus, she still a teen, the age I was when I was dating my husband (high school). When she grows up a bit more (don’t mean that as a slam) she’ll have a better understanding. I really, REALLY, don’t think any female likes getting beaten up by their supposed loved one. They either don’t know any differently, can’t financially afford to leave or a combo of the two.

      • Mariah

        I really, REALLY think people need to chill and wait and see what the song is actually about.

    • D

      Unless it is a song about some kind of consensual S&M, I probably wouldn’t be okay with it. Even if it IS a song about consensual S&M, it is a strange topic for a teenager’s album.

  • Slezak Stalker

    Mr. Slezak,

    I am weak in the knees. Once again, your use of em dashes and commas makes reading your work a truly joyful experience.

    The grammar gods bow down to you. This is a serious post. Yes, I am actually that nerdy.

    • Joan

      Absolutely love your attention to deital! There are so many fabulous photographs, so hard to choose just one or two. The flower girls are adorable. You can really see the love and happiness shared in your pictures. Not only from the bride and groom but the entire family celebrating. Beautiful and inspiring work.

  • Cinn

    Atta girl, just be yourself. Shut the F up haters!

  • sara

    I hope she was kidding about the song “Beat Me Up.” Who on earth thought THAT was a good idea for a song??? More than that, who thought it would be GOOD idea for Allison to sing it? That’s sick.

    • Kristina

      I see it being about girls in abusive relationships that can’t leave for some reason…they love this guy even after he hits her.

      Lots of girls out there like that

      • @HolyShiZZZ on twitter

        EXACTLY EXACTLY EXACTLY THANK YOU

      • LoveDaRocker

        Lots of terrorists out there. Should she write a song called “Blow you up”??
        From this interview, it just sounds like a terrible take on the matter. Again, I hope its written such that it does not endorse or tolerates “beating up” in a relationship.

      • D

        They stay DESPITE the beatings, not BECAUSE of them though, I would think.

    • chessguy99

      sara: the song Bleeding Love is exactly about the same situation. A young woman in a relationship that she is mistreated in but remains in. Every time the guy cheats on her its like a cut, but all the woman can do is bleed out her love for him. I’m sure this song is on that same theme, except with a younger feel to it.

  • Amanda

    Slezak, I think you really ought to have asked more questions about “Beat Me Up”. I have a feeling this isn’t going to end well. If that’s actually what the song is about, Allison’s label is going to be in some hot water with a lot of concerned activists. (I can’t actually fathom them allowing her to sing that sort of song.) If she’s misspoke, she needs to clear the air ASAP

    • D

      A little disappointed in Slezak myself here. I would have hoped for some more follow-up on the matter.

  • Alyssa

    I don’t really think it’s literally about a physically abusive relationship. Maybe the guy is simply not treating the girl right. Being a jerk, cheating, not calling, etc. And I think Allison just wants to get the message across that girls shouldn’t allow their guys/bf’s/whatever to treat them that way.

    • D

      Why is the name “beat me up”?

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