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Grown up now, Reid says it was difficult following up surprise hit 'Alone Again'

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TORONTO - When Alyssa Reid's piano-plinking dancehall anthem of dependency "Alone Again" was first released back in fall 2010, she was 17 years old, working at Tim Hortons and still attending high school.

The earworm single simply took off. It reached the 11th spot on the Canadian chart and gold status while climbing even higher in the U.K. — all the way to No. 2. The video racked up nearly 14 million views on YouTube. A Juno Award nomination was next.

It was, a forthright Reid acknowledges, a bit overwhelming for a Brampton, Ont., native not entirely ready to give up her adolescence. And the blockbuster tune made for a tough act to follow.

"The thing with 'Alone Again' is that I don't think anybody was really ready for it on my team," said Reid, now 20, in a recent telephone interview. "We didn't know that it was going to do so well. We didn't know it was going to launch my career in the way that it did. So I guess in a sense I wasn't really prepared for that.

"And I was worried with such a big song like that, it's hard to follow that. How does Carly Rae Jepsen follow 'Call Me Maybe?' People fixate on that one song. You worry, are people going to think I'm a one-hit wonder? Are people going to care about my new single? Are they even going to want to play it or are they still going to play 'Alone Again'?

"It's hard moving on from something like that, as amazing as it was."

But move on she did, with a new album ("Time Bomb," out Tuesday) and single.

And she's encouraged by the response thus far to "Satisfaction Guaranteed," which has reached the top 25 on the Canadian pop chart and spawned a sassy video that's drawn nearly 300,000 views in a couple months.

It's a relief, in part because Reid says she put much more of herself into the music this time around. Although she claimed songwriting credits on all but one track (an interlude, natch) on her debut "The Game," Reid was young and not yet self-assured enough to necessarily trust her instincts.

"With the first record I didn't exactly know what I was doing," she said. "I was trying to write what I thought people wanted to hear. With this album, I've been able to be way more hands-on with it and help shape it into something that feels like it's coming straight from me."

Although the album is glossy and LED-bright — Reid says she wanted to move closer to the pop end of the spectrum and ratchet up her tempos even as she retained a few quietly heartbreaking moments — it's also personal.

In "Satisfaction Guaranteed," the Edmonton-born singer says she's "almost kind of begging for a second chance at a relationship." The album-closing piano-dirge title track was written about another of Reid's relationships, with the sorrowful tune intended as an apology — and a warning to stay away, she explains, "because (she's) kind of a destructive person."

And the booming "Radio Silence" was initially written for Reid's cousin, who died of leukemia, although she tried to hit on more universal themes of loss.

Though young, Reid has been in the industry longer than many. She sang and wrote at a young age, when she joined the performing arts group Sunshine Generation. She later joined a group called Pop Stars and was a finalist on YTV's "The Next Star" in 2008.

Still, she shrugs off the idea that that background prepared her for what she's experiencing now.

"It definitely helped in regards to kind of getting over my stage fright," she said. "Because when I first started off, I was so terrified, I would have to hide behind a wall to sing in front of anybody. You couldn't even look me in the eyes or I wouldn't be able to sing. I had the WORST stage fright.

"But it's a whole different thing when you're performing karaoke night at Shoeless Joe's to being support on a national tour with one of the biggest bands in the country. It's a whole different ball game."

Though she's worked her whole life for the pop career she's carving, she's not content to focus all her energy on music.

She was just accepted to the University of Toronto and plans to pursue an honours bachelor of arts part-time, with the eventual goal of entering a teaching program.

She says furthering her education was important because she was the first person in her family to be accepted into university. And Reid, ever the pragmatist, is already looking past her current success, well into the future.

"At some point my music career is going to dim down and I'm going to want to have a family and I'm going to want to be a regular person," she said.

"And it would be really hard to try to start my life over at 30 years old."

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