“American Idol” fans might not recognize Lauren Spencer-Smith at first glance — but they’ll likely remember her powerhouse voice. When the teen first auditioned for the “Idol” judges during Season 18, singing Pink’s “What About Us,” Luke Bryan was left speechless and Lionel Richie said, “You are wise and gifted beyond your age.”
Now, the 18-year-old is poised to be the music industry’s next big thing, sparking a bidding war among record labels and joining Shawn Mendes’ management team.
During Spencer-Smith’s season on ‘Idol,’ the pandemic shut down production in Los Angeles and contestants had to perform via video from their homes all season long. Then just 16, she made it to the Top 20, but told WRMF Radio that her elimination from the show was “a blessing in disguise” because she used the rest of lockdown to hone her songwriting skills and find her voice as an artist. Viral TikTok videos of her deeply intimate, confessional songs have led to Spencer-Smith’s meteoric rise.
Here’s How Spencer-Smith Became Music’s Next Big Thing
After being eliminated from ‘Idol,’ Spencer-Smith headed home to Canada to work on all she’d learned during the intense competition, including honing her songwriting skills. She had been discovered by ‘Idol’ producers via songs she posted on social media so, according to Variety, the teen decided to resume posting some of her newly-written tunes.
She worked with several professional producers and songwriters, signed with a manager, and used TikTok to posting new songs such as “For Granted” and “Back to Friends” as well as covers of popular tunes.
In Nov. 2021, after working on a new song called “Fingers Crossed,” she leaked 15 seconds of the tune on TikTok — and people went wild for it. Her “American Idol” fan base suddenly grew as new listeners found her, and record companies began calling.
“Fingers Crossed” was released independently on Jan. 5, and the song went viral on TikTok. According to Billboard, the single also shot to No. 19 on the Billboard Hot 100 later that month. Major labels clamored for meetings with the teen sensation, and she eventually signed with two of them — Republic and Island Records, which are both part of Universal Music Group.
Spencer-Smith told Billboard that signing the deal was a weight off her shoulders. “Before, my manager and I were doing everything, like marketing and creative,” she said. “And now, I have teams dedicated to that and it’s nice to have people who know what they’re doing and a whole army that wants to support and help you.”
According to Hits, the 18-year-old parted ways with her manager in the spring of 2022 and signed with Shawn Mendes’ management team. In May, Spencer-Smith told ET Canada that she’s become “friends-ish” with Mendes and called him “very Zen.”
Here’s What’s Next For The Teen Sensation
With a full team behind her working to make her a megastar, Spencer-Smith’s career is taking off like a rocket. In April, she released a second single, “Flowers,” which debuted at No. 1 on iTunes.
On July 29, she released a third track, pop ballad “Narcissist,” with an accompanying music video. She’s scheduled to perform the new tune during her debut performance on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” on Aug. 8.
Three days later, on Aug. 11, Spencer-Smith kicks off her first North American headlining tour, with concerts in the U.S. and Canada. Dates and tickets are available via her website.
Once she wraps up that tour, the teen will release her first full-length album, cementing her place as music’s breakout star of 2022. The album is expected to have 13 to 14 tracks; in April 2022, Spencer-Smith revealed in an interview with Zach Sang that she had at least 20 songs completed, but was struggling to choose which ones will make the record.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “I’d way rather have more music than come short and not have, like, enough music.”