Lauren Spencer Smith Says After ‘Idol,’ She Decided To ‘Prove Everybody Wrong’

Lauren Spencer-Smith then and now

ABC/YouTube/Getty Lauren Spencer-Smith on "American Idol" in 2020, and at the 2022 MTV VMAs

Looking back on her brief but staggering music career, rising star Lauren Spencer Smith thinks being a contestant on “American Idol” in 2020 was a major stepping stone for her — but not in the way most might expect.

After making the top 20 during season 18, she now says being cut from the show actually fueled her drive for success.

Singer Wanted To ‘Prove Everybody Wrong’ After ‘Idol’

During Spencer Smith’s run on “Idol,” the pandemic shut down production and the teen, along with other contestants who made it into the top 20 in Hawaii, had to perform from their homes for the rest of the season. Then just 16, Spencer Smith was eliminated after her first at-home performance, along with eight other contestants.

She told ABC Audio that 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 the singer’s meteoric rise, including a bidding war by major record labels, leading to her deal with Republic and Island Records, and a performance at the MTV VMA’s on August 28, 2022.

In an August 29 interview with the Toronto Star, the Canadian singer said, “When I got kicked off ‘American Idol,’ people didn’t believe in me like the way that I believed in myself. It definitely was a kick-start to ‘Yeah, I’m gonna prove everybody wrong.’”

Using her cellphone to shoot videos of herself singing her own material, her “Idol” fanbase on social media started to grow. One of the songs, “Fingers Crossed,” has generated half a billion views on TikTok and more than 250 million streams globally.

Now signed to a major record deal, she thinks her career might have gone a totally different direction if she’d stayed on the show.

“If I won, I would have been signed into a contract,” she said. “Everything happens for a reason because now I have a different label and a different direction of focusing on my craft.”

Spencer Smith Says She’s Trying Not To Focus on Sales

Spencer Smith’s latest single, “Narcissist,” was released on July 29. She performed it on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” and then headed out on a sold-out eight-city tour, which wraps in Toronto on September 3.

Now that she’s skyrocketed to success, with millions of streams of her songs, the 18-year-old says she’s trying not to focus too much on sales numbers.

“I’ve gotten to the point where I have a good relationship with my numbers,” she told the Toronto Star. “I don’t try to insanely focus on them and I don’t check them every hour. If I start doing that, I really lose my mental health and stability. But definitely, when ‘Fingers Crossed’ blew up we were like, ‘Oh God, if the next one doesn’t do well what am I going to do?’”

For others hoping to get noticed in the music industry, the singer-songwriter said social media has some advantages over TV talent shows like “American Idol.”

“I think social media is just so powerful and anyone is capable of anything,” she said. “TikTok unfortunately, or fortunately, gives people the opportunity to say whatever they want, and people get to choose who goes viral and who doesn’t. You get to build a fan base of people that like you and have chosen to follow you on their own instead of being judged by other people that have been in the industry for a long time.”

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