Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

This Song of the Week is partially an excuse to tell you a) Lauren Alaina has a new album and b) I visited Nashville! There are so many talented musicians in Nashville, and you can see them for free any day of the week, but the musical highlight of my trip was Lauren headlining a charity event at one of the Downtown bars (just around the corner from the one featured in the new Little Mix video). With powerful vocals, an infectious personality, and two great albums, Lauren has to be one of the most underrated artists in both country and pop music today. She is best known for competing in American Idol in 2011, but only had moderate success after the series ended. She acknowledged this in one of several touching moments during the gig, celebrating the news that, after years of hard work and persistence, she finally has her first proper hit with the poptastic Road Less Traveled – a former Song of the Week from 2015, which has now reached no.3 on the country chart. Her second album, also called Road Less Traveled, came out in January and is a much better representation of her relevance and pop sensibility than its more sweet and traditional predecessor. The lyrics cover her battle with bulimia (Road Less Traveled), dramatic family problems (Doin’ Fine) and the sacrifices that it takes to become a pop star (Three). We hear songs about superstars fed up with fame, but the story of a girl with an opportunity, giving up so much for something as simple as “three minutes on the radio,” is one I’ve never heard expressed in a way that rings so true. Lauren’s honest, direct personality allows her to expose the reality of being a potential pop star. I hope she’ll be successful enough to be complaining about paparazzi on her next album.