The third inspired her current single “Getting Over Him” and created a new mantra for the broken-hearted, but he might be the least important guy to make an impression on Sitting Pretty on Top of the World, her third album on Mercury Nashville.
Jon Pardi joins her for this track, which is nearing the Top 40 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart. Elsewhere, Lukas Graham takes center-stage on the piano-led, emotionally charged “What Do You Think Of?,” a song Alaina thought she’d never share with fans.
It was inspired by “the one we don’t speak of.”
“I never wanted him to think for a second that his cheating and his lies made me sad,” the singer shares, referring to comedian John Crist.
Watch the full conversation below for a deeper understanding of what the 26-year-old has been up to since released Road Less Traveled in 2017, and to appreciate how a great depression led to the making of what she and many others are calling her most complete, realized album yet.
The winter of 2019-2020 was very cold for Alaina, and — like all of us — her isolation was stretched into spring because of the pandemic. The former American Idol finalist found herself in a dark place, but felt she didn’t deserve pity because she had so much to be grateful for. That’s why the quasi-title-track (“On Top of the World“) of her new album became a breakup song, when really the hook (“Hitting rock bottom / Sitting pretty on top of the world”) actually hit during a lonely walk around her neighborhood.
“I just wrote it about being the life of the party, but being the sad girl,” Alaina says. “I felt like the last three years of my life, my stepfather passed away from cancer, my high school relationship of 6-and-a-half years ended and the next guy came along and was the worst person ever. All of these things just kind of happened and I was on the road and I was on Dancing With the Stars and I was like in the sparkly dress and being the girl who is happy and always positive and stuff and I was really struggling internally.”
Alaina knew writer Sasha Sloan as someone who approached issues of mental health with empathy and great care, so she saved this idea for their co-write. It’s far from the only emotional song of the batch of 15 (her father couldn’t get past “It Was Me”), but it’s the statement song and her pivot point for what comes next.
Maybe that will be a new romance. Maybe not. She’s dated here and there in the last 18 months, including a little time with a guy she wasn’t into all that much. That’s where she found the genesis of “Getting Over Him.” He was her “getting over him” guy.
“If you’re going to go through a breakup, just find a new boy to kiss,” Alaina says with a mix of urgency and humor. “Or a girl. Whatever you like to kiss. Go kiss it.”
Sitting Pretty on Top of the World was released on Sept. 3.
Best Country Albums of 2021 – Critic’s Pick
There have been many creative country albums in 2021, but not all have hit the mark. Artists are more than ever toying with distribution methods and packaging as much as they are new sounds, so you get double and triple albums, Part 1 and Part 2, and digital EPs in lieu of a traditional 10 or 11-song release.
More than ever, this relied on staff opinion and artistic merit to allow for some parity among major label artists and independents. The 10 albums listed below are not ranked, although the year-end list published in the fall will crown a true best album of 2021.