She's wowed the American Idol judges for the past two months in the audition and semi-final rounds and even drew comparisons to Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, but as contestant Lauren Alaina tells it, her Idol journey isn't as effortless as it seems. "It's overwhelming and insane," the 16-year-old Rossville, Ga., native tells UsMagazine.com of her run on the Fox series.
As Alaina gets ready to take the stage Wednesday for her first official performance as a member of Idol's Top 13, Us compiled a dossier of fun facts you may not know about the teen standout.
1. Inspired to sing by her cousin, Holly, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor three years ago, Alaina (real name: Lauren Alaina Suddeth) admits she wasn't that nervous about belting out Aerosmith's "Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" in front of the man that made the tune famous, Steven Tyler. "I don't know how that happened!" Alaina says of the impromptu performance. "It wasn't planned but I'm glad I did it!"
2. Yes, Alaina has a special someone supporting her during her Idol journey, but no, you won't learn his identity. "There's somebody and he lives across the U.S. right now," she told Us at Idol's Top 13 party.
3. Her special pre-show ritual before hitting the big stage? Going with God. "I just pray before I go out every time," Alaina tells Us.
4. Her reality TV experience thus far has been part American Idol, part Biggest Loser. While the high school student initially had qualms about seeing herself on-screen, her outlook has improved after she dropped 14 pounds since her first audition last October. "I look heavier on television," Alaina reasons. "It's better now, after the first time I saw myself. I've been working out." Key diet staples at the Idol mansion for Alaina? Grilled fish and chicken, but no bread or pasta!
5. Alaina may be a fresh face to the millions of viewers who tune into Idol each week, but to locals in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., she's long been a musical force. Even while on the job at Cici's Pizza! "She was always singing around the store, even while stocking the salad bar. People noticed her," Alaina's former manager, Jeff Wild, told the TimesFreePress.com. "Now I have thoughts like, 'I may have asked the next American Idol to sweep crumbs up off the floor,'" he joked.
American Idol's Top 13 perform Wednesday at 8 p.m. (EST) on Fox.