It is mid-February in Nashville and like most residents in the city, singer-songwriter Lauren Alaina has been dealing with ice, snow and frigid temperatures for the past few days, trying to make the best of the situation.
“I went over to a friend’s house last night and I didn’t leave, because I was too scared to drive,” she told American Songwriter.
Alaina’s also making the best out of unfortunate circumstances in her new single, “Getting Over Him,” a sizzling slice of defiant fun that finds Alaina eschewing romantic entanglements in favor of some flirty, no-strings-attached moments. No strings, Saturday night/ Hot like a match that burned out fast/ Forever wasn’t in our eyes/ You knew it, and I knew it … Just my gettin’ over him guy, she sings in the track.
The song’s genesis came after Alaina weathered two fizzled relationships. As 2019 dawned, she and longtime boyfriend Alex Hopkins announced they had called off their engagement, just six months after he popped the question. She dated comedian John Crist for a few months, before the pair split in September of that same year.
“I realized I had never just been out and flirted. I didn’t know how to be single,” she says. “A lot of times when I write a song, it’s a very specific, about a certain person, and this one’s just not. I just needed this song to represent the season of me learning to be single.”
In March 2020, Alaina addressed the emotional wreckage of the breakups on her EP Getting Good. Six months later, she released its follow up, Getting Over Him, which showcases just that—an Alaina who is ready to move forward and focus on her next chapter.
“I was like, ‘I need to get out and have a good time,’ which I didn’t really know how to do because I’ve been in the public eye since I was 16. But I had one little season when I got home from [competing on] Dancing with the Stars where I would hang out and be flirty. I’ve still never kissed a boy in a bar. But the idea of it, I wrote this song about it.”
Some words of wisdom from her manager and few casual hangouts with a guy friend served up more inspiration. “My manager said, ‘The best way to get over a guy is to kiss another guy.’” Alaina shares. “There was a guy that I was kind of just—he wasn’t serious about me and I wasn’t serious about him—but we would hang out and we’re buddies. It really wasn’t a relationship. And I don’t even think I ever kissed the guy, but we would hang out. I remember thinking, ‘This is just so much better than me sitting at home crying.’ So I was like, ‘He’s not my guy, but I think he’s my getting over him guy.’”
Alaina originally intended to use one of song’s key lines—My last call, first call, no falling/Just my getting over him guy —in a different song. “It was going to be like, ‘I’m your last call first call,’ about this guy who only calls me when he’s drunk. I’ve had a couple of those, but I ended up using these lyrics in this song because it fits so well.”
Alaina took that idea into a songwriting session with trusted collaborators Emily Weisband (who penned Alaina’s 2019 single “Getting Good”) and Paul DiGiovanni, who also produced her new EP.
It was Alaina’s idea to transform “Getting Over Him” into a duet. “I thought we could tell it from the guy’s perspective, too,” she says. “That also softens it because it sounds like a song about a one-night stand, and I am really not a one-night stand girl. Bringing this other character into it kind of softened it and made it more fun.”
After earning her first No. 1 hit with “Road Less Traveled” in 2016, Alaina established a track record of successful collaborations, including the 5x multi-platinum duet with Kane Brown, “What Ifs,” and her appearance last year on HARDY’s chart-topper “One Beer,” with Devin Dawson. “What Do You Think Of?,” another track from Alaina’s latest EP, features Lukas Graham.
So when it came time to record “Getting Over Him,” she knew just the person who could bring some added swagger to the track. She’d previously collaborated with Jon Pardi on “Don’t Blame It on Whiskey,” from Pardi’s 2019 album Heartache Medication. The two also co-hosted the Academy of Country Music’s ACM Honors ceremony in 2018.
“He felt like the perfect guy for this song because, first of all, I’ve hung with him a million times. We’re like brother and sister. He’s one of my closest friends in this town. We went on a radio tour together back in the day and kind of came up in the industry together.
“So I called him and said, ‘Remember when I recorded that song with you? Now you have to record one with me.’ I sent him the song and he loved it. It’s just fun and brings so much to it.”
While Pardi recorded his vocal part at DiGiovanni’s home studio, Alaina joined the session via a Zoom call. “I was at my mom’s house out of state. My family was so excited that Jon was recording my song and they were trying to come in and listen. I had to remind them, like, ‘I’m genuinely working right now. I know my work is so fun, but I’m actually helping him record a vocal for this song.’”
Though the pandemic has forced artists to halt touring over the past year, the extra time afforded Alaina the creative space to focus on writing; she penned all six tracks on her recent EP—a silver lining in what has been jarring year for the entertainer.
“I’ve been touring professionally for 10 years. My entire being is wrapped up in doing that. So for that to stop has been a real test to me, because I’m pretty defined in that. Being on stage and connecting with people is a huge part of who I am. So for that to go away, I had to really focus on the other parts [of being an artist]. At first, I was really inspired and felt like I could write everything under the sun…I wrote these songs in that first season of quarantine and when the EP [Getting Over Him] came out, I was so proud of it because I felt reconnected to people again.”
But months into the pandemic, that creative surge began to slow.
“I had a creative meeting with my manager and publisher, but it was like the weight of the quarantine and being off the road hit me in this meeting,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘I don’t even know how to write songs anymore. I don’t know what y’all want me to write about, because I’ve been in my home for eight months. I have nothing to say.”
The New Year brought a new wave of inspiration. “I had to almost retrain my brain on how to get into that creative mindset,” Alaina sums. “It’s like something switched and the last six weeks, I think I have written some of the best music I’ve ever written. So there’s more to come.”