Lauren Alaina has been America’s sweetheart since she won over audiences alongside buddy and fellow country star Scotty McCreery on American Idol in 2011, but her career had to take a pit stop recently due to vocal surgery. Now, she’s back and better than ever with a new self-titled EP, which drops Oct. 2.

The artist told Taste of Country this summer that her new music was going to have a different sound, and not just because she now has an even wider vocal range.

“It’s not really like my first record at all. Everything’s different,” Alaina says. "I have a new voice, too. It’s a brand new me! I can sing a lot higher and a lot stronger."

The EP will feature five songs, each co-written by Alaina, including the single “Next Boyfriend,” which hits radio Sept. 28, and a song recorded specifically for ESPN’s college football coverage this season called “History.” The EP’s opening track even features pop singer/songwriter Meghan Trainor as a co-writer.

The collection consists of just a portion of the new tunes Alaina has in her back pocket, the rest of which will be unveiled on her sophomore full-length record, due out next year. The artist says she’s thankful her fans have stuck with her through the transition.

“They’ve been so supportive,” she gushes. “I have the best fans. I know everyone says that, but I really think I do, because they stuck around two and a half years for music. That’s a long time to wait for music.”

Fans can hear “History” in promotions for the week’s top college mashup, including this week’s game between Stanford and USC. Both “History” and “Next Boyfriend” are available now on iTunes.

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