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Lauren Alaina's time on Dancing With the Stars was exactly what she needed after a breakup -- and the perfect inspiration for her upcoming EP, Getting Over Him, out Sept. 4. The 25-year-old country singer placed fourth in the dancing competition show last season and says being on the show was "such a blessing" after her split with John Crist.
With the latest contestants officially announced on Wednesday, Alaina tells ET's Rachel Smith that the celebs should "have fun, take pictures" and "connect with people" while "having a good time and making friends." And, above all else, she notes to "celebrate yourself."
Things might look a little different on the ballroom amid the pandemic and social distancing rules. But what does Alaina think of Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews being replaced by Tyra Banks for the upcoming season?
"I loved my hosts, but I also love Tyra Banks," Alaina replies. "But my favorite part about Dancing With the Stars though was, hands down, Ally Brooke. She is an angel and has become one of my greatest friends. We all became a huge family but specifically her. She was just so kind and it was really fun to see this pop star girl just loving Jesus and making people banana bread every week. She's a precious little cupcake."
Alaina's time on DWTS was very therapeutic after her heartbreak. But it fueled her to keep on going and even write some new tunes.
"I was like, 'You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to go be on national television every week. This will be great!' Got my body right, I was losing some weight and I was being flirty on TV. This is like the ultimate comeback," she tells ET, adding that the show was a good distraction for her. "It was really good for me, so by the time I got home, I was like, 'I'm over it.'"
With songs like "Run," "See You in Your Hometown" and the title track "Getting Over Him," Alaina's EP is one that will resonate with many who have had their hearts broken.
"I've been through enough breakups in the last couple of years that I've had some serious inspiration. But I don't really tell who my songs are about. But I feel like the guy that I wrote these songs about is gonna know when he hears 'em," she teases. "This EP feels like learning to love myself when someone else doesn't and not letting them take that from me. So I'm really proud of it."
As for her collaboration with Lukas Graham, "What Do You Think Of," which she wrote while on DWTS, she calls it her "favorite on the whole project" and "powerful." She penned the song at her lowest point, when she felt the most broken.
"I wrote this song and it was the first song where I kind of opened up the door to how I was feeling and I was really, really sad at the time," she recalls. "And…when I got home my 'tude changed 'cause I wrote the rest of the songs by the time I got home. I was like, 'Oh no, we're not sad anymore!'"
"When I hear it even now, even though I'm not sad over my ex-boyfriend anymore, it's just a sad song and it reminds me of how I felt in that moment," she details. "But the more I thought about it, I was like, there are lots of people going through breakups and this song could [resonate with others]."
For now, she might not be looking for love but she knows what kind of guy she would want to end up with.
"I love my famous friends. I do not want a famous boyfriend. Not doing that," she notes. "I mean, I guess if he was, like, Prince Charming came along and he was an actor or singer. I don't know. I just want a private relationship…I will probably never tell [anyone] about a relationship again until I'm walking down that aisle…I am gonna be 100 percent sure before I bring the world in on a relationship ever again."
Meanwhile, the world first met Alaina in 2011 when she was just 16 years old and a runner-up on American Idol. ET showed her an old interview of herself on the singing competition show and asked what she would tell her younger self.
"I wish I could go hug that girl, really. I was so critical of myself," she expresses. "But because I became famous overnight -- and look at that little free spirit -- that makes me a little bit emotional honestly because like me saying, 'I’ll always be myself,' there was a period where I was not being myself and I was really struggling to find who I am and I let other people kind of dictate how I felt about myself."
"I started being pulled in a bunch of directions and I bleached my hair, like super blonde after that. I was really active in an eating disorder and I was told I needed to lose weight and all of these things," she continues, adding that she lost sight of who she was for a while. "I'm thankful now because I really got to kind of go back to the very core of who I am and decide who I want to be. But it took me a really long time."
"So that girl in that video, I got back to her…It's kind of nice to see her. But we strayed a little after that," she notes. "I would just hug her and say, 'You got here because of your voice, not because of the way that you look or the size of your jeans. And don't Google yourself!'"
For more on Alaina, see below. Getting Over Him is out on Sept. 4.