Iraheta finds her voice with her debut album

By Derrik J. Lang

LOS ANGELES — Allison Iraheta has come a long way since her awkward first interview with Ryan Seacrest.

The spunky 17-year-old singer, who stuttered and stammered when the “American Idol” host prodded her about school at the beginning of the eighth season, went on to win rave reviews from the judges throughout the competition, standing out early on with a rendition of Heart’s “Alone” and leaving a lasting impression with her take on Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby.”

It wasn’t enough to win; Iraheta placed fourth behind Kris Allen, Adam Lambert and Danny Gokey on the Fox network show. Yet she still snagged a record deal with “Idol” label 19 Recordings and Jive Records. Her album, “Just Like You,” will be in stores today. The redhead — who’s added purple and pink streaks to her memorable coif — says her pop-rock collection accents her innate edginess.

Unlike other teen “Idols” such as David Archuleta and Jordin Sparks, the plucky Los Angeles native is unapologetic when she speaks, breaking out into goofy voices and using language not found on the Disney Channel. In a recent interview, Iraheta talked about recording her album, gaining confidence and collaborating with another fourth-place “Idol” finisher.

Q. It seems like yesterday we were at the finale, and now you have an album. How does it feel?

A. I’m obviously excited, finally getting the album out. (It’s) something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time, just getting to work with awesome producers, doing songs that I can really relate to and just get out there, finally living the dream that I’ve always wanted to but never really thought I would.

Q. What was the creative process like when you were recording this album?

A. The process is crazy, especially when I was on the “Idol” tour. Time was very limited. They would send me songs. I’d take a listen, and if I liked it or not, I’d let them know. I’d be like, “I definitely do not want to do this. This is not me. What’s wrong with you?” I was lucky enough to get some great songs, record ’em and get ’em done.

Q. What was it like working with Chris Daughtry on the album? You both came in fourth place on different seasons of “Idol.”

A. We kept talking about how crazy it was we both came in fourth place. He was telling me how, when he got cut, he was so bummed but that everything worked out. I was like, “I felt that way too, man!” He’s cool.

The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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