Friday, August 5, 2022

2 years after ‘Idol’, record labels struggle to sign Teen as she rises to stardom

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American Idol fans may not recognize Lauren Spencer-Smith at first glance — but they’ll likely remember her powerful voice. When the teenager auditioned for the “Idol” judges for the first time in season 18 and sang Pink’s “What About Us,” Luke Bryan was speechless, and Lionel Richie said, “You are wise and gifted beyond your years.”

Now the 18-year-old is poised to become the next big thing in the music industry, sparking a bidding war among record labels and joining Shawn Mendes’ management team.

During Spencer-Smith’s season on “Idol,” the pandemic shut down production in Los Angeles and contestants had to perform via video from home throughout the season. She made the top 20 when she was just 16, but told WRMF Radio her departure from the show was “a blessing in disguise” because she used the rest of lockdown to hone her songwriting skills and her voice to be found as an artist. Viral TikTok videos of her deeply intimate, self-confessed songs have fueled Spencer-Smith’s meteoric rise to fame.

After getting eliminated from “Idol,” Spencer-Smith went home to Canada to work on everything she learned during the intense competition, including improving her songwriting skills. She’d been discovered by ‘Idol’ producers via songs she’d posted to social media, so the teen decided to repost some of her newly written tunes, according to Variety.

She has worked with several professional producers and songwriters, signed to a manager, and used TikTok to post new songs like “For Granted” and “Back to Friends,” as well as covers of popular tunes.

After working on a new song called “Fingers Crossed” in November 2021, she leaked 15 seconds of the tune on TikTok — and people went wild for it. Her “American Idol” fan base suddenly grew as new listeners found her and called record companies.

“Fingers Crossed” was released independently on January 5th and the song went viral on TikTok. According to Billboard, the single also peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 later that month. Major labels clamored to meet the teenage sensation, and she ended up signing with two of them – Republic and Island Records, both part of Universal Music Group are.

Spencer-Smith told Billboard that signing the deal was a load off her shoulders. “Before, my manager and I did everything, like marketing and creative work,” she said. “And now I have teams that are committed to that and it’s nice to have people who know what they’re doing and an entire army who want to support you and want to help you.”

According to Hits, the 18-year-old split from her manager in spring 2022 and signed with Shawn Mendes’ management team. In May, Spencer-Smith told ET Canada that she had “befriended” Mendes, calling him “very Zen.”

With a full team behind her working to make her a megastar, Spencer-Smith’s career takes off like a rocket. In April, she released a second single, “Flowers,” which debuted at #1 on iTunes.

On July 29, she released a third track, the pop ballad “Narcissist,” with an accompanying music video. She is scheduled to perform the new tune during her debut appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon on August 8.

Three days later, on August 11, Spencer-Smith embarked on her first North American headlining tour, with concerts in the US and Canada. Dates and tickets are available through their website.

Once she wraps that tour, the teen will release her first full-length album and cement her place as music’s breakout star in 2022. The album is expected to contain 13 to 14 tracks; In April 2022, Spencer-Smith revealed in an interview with Zach Sang that she had completed at least 20 songs but was having trouble choosing which ones would make the record.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I would much rather have more music than fall short and not have enough music.”

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