Lauren Jauregui Defies "Expectations"

Lauren Jauregui Defies "Expectations"

The Fifth Harmony alum bears her soul in her much-anticipated second act.

The Fifth Harmony alum bears her soul in her much-anticipated second act.

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

The "Work From Home" era may be over, but the alumnae of Fifth Harmony aren't exactly resting on their laurels and collecting pop-star social security. Since the band went on an indefinite hiatus last year, the five former members have been in a scrimmage for pop longevity, and 22-year-old Lauren Jauregui looks especially poised to succeed. Today, she’s released “Expectations,” her first single as a solo artist. And despite completing three albums and almost a dozen tours under Fifth Harmony, Jauregui says the new single heralds a more authentic era than any that’s come before it.   

It’s not unprecedented for a pop star in her early 20s to be entering her mid-career. As unscientific studies have shown, pop stardom accelerates the aging process; in the post-bubblegum mid-2000s, the spike in torn ACLs, DUIs, and impulsive engagements seemed to suggest that contrived sexual maturity and grueling schedules could have some negative mental and physical side-effects. But unlike their forbearers, today’s pop divas seem to have largely avoided such hiccups by rejecting the rigidity of the music industry, and instead exercising authenticity and personal empowerment.

Despite Fifth Harmony’s roots in the X Factor laboratories, Jauregui embodies the fluidity of this modern-day pop star. Following her outspoken support of immigrant rights to LGBTQ representation, the forthcoming album, she says, will be anything but cookie-cutter, incorporating a range of genres and spiritual practices. So if you think you know this pop star, it may be best to withhold your expectations.  

V Can you tell us anything about the song?

Lauren Jauregui It’s swanky and sexy, and it has a lot of emotion behind it. It’s very raw. It’s a very emotional song. I’m talking about a relationship particularly, but it can apply to anything in life. It can be about a friend, it can be about anybody. When they’re like hurting us and going behind our backs and stuff—or we think they are, based on assumptions. That's what happened to me.

V It's important to communicate!

LJ Right! Actually, I have that line, that line is in the song. (Laughs.)

V When did you start writing it? Was this one of the first songs in your solo journey?

LJ I really didn’t start working on any music until Fifth was wrapped up. I didn’t really feel like, “Oh wow I can create,” until everything like wrapped up and I didn’t have any of that on my mind anymore. Then this floodgate of emotion and shit [opened], that I haven't said, I guess. In ways that I haven't expressed myself [before], because I held myself back thinking I wasn’t good enough to even express myself.

V That might be surprising for some people—that you weren't expressing yourself. Because you've been doing this for years now, and started so young. How did the transition between performing for a huge audience and then expressing your authentic self come about?

LJ The energy that I had was in the group is, like, this is a job. I show up, I sing, I dance, I do interviews. It just was like… My soul wasn’t present because I couldn’t really connect to the music like that. For me music had always been…I find indie songs, mainstream songs, or a range of that world. Like I didn’t only listen to pop music growing up, you know what I mean. There were some songs that I could do that with. But for the most part I couldn’t connect like that with the music we were making, so that in itself was draining.

V How was the creative process this time around? 

LJ I’ve been [working] non-stop. I feel so inspired right now. I have like over 30 songs chilling. For "Expectations," it was a super organic vibe. I just kind of went in with Kid Harpoon, who is the producer of this track, and we talked about crystals, and then we wrote out our expectations. I had gone through some shit before and it was kind of lingering in my psyche, and I was like I need to get this out. Because I know that I am being annoying, so let me just write a song about it. I’ve just been like regurgitating stuff into music, man. I go into the Notes section anytime I’m really pissed and want to write about something. I have over a thousand Notes. So, this is like a whole other process, just very realistically. I am writing everything; every word that you will see or hear is coming from my heart and soul.

V It sounds like you have a strong spiritual life.

LJ Yeah absolutely. I feel like everything that I am doing has major symbolic meaning to me. I personally feel like I’m kind of just a vessel. Art comes from a place that’s not human, you know what I mean? Those themes are definitely in [the music] just because I feel like it is a huge part of my life, and it's a huge part of who I am. So yeah, it's definitely present in the lyrics, in the sound, in the visuals, all of it.

V You got a tattoo recently! How many do you have?

LJ My first tattoo was a dragonfly, which I got when I was 18. And then I’ve got that little V, it's like an all-encompassing thing. It stands for divine femininity, and purpose. I’ve got the number 27, which is a crazy omen in my life; I was born on the 27th and then the group was formed on the 27th. I have “I am that I am” tatted down my back like along my spine. It’s from the The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, also a lyric in a Mumford & Sons song. I used to write it out on my finger with a sharpie. Like I’m such a fucking art kid.

V What kind of genres do you dip into for this album? How would you describe your new sound?

LJ I am still struggling to find a proper answer to this because I start answering it and then I am all over the place. So people are probably going to be confused. (Laughs.) I grew up listening to 90s R&B, alternative rock, singer-songwriters, vocalists. Pop music too. Latin music of course, Cuban music like crazy. And Colombian. All of those different elements are interwoven sporadically. Oh! And soul. I don't know how I forgot that. It's just me. I don't know how to explain it.

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