Lauren Alaina sends a message to her fans through this uplifting country rocker that it's OK to follow your own path. "It's a song to encourage people to just be who they are and don't apologize for it," said the singer. "I think that's a hard thing to do because it feels like there's so much pressure to fit this mold that everyone has like made for us which is ridiculous, because last time I checked if we were all the exact same, it would be pretty boring."
Alaina publicly revealed she struggled from bulimia for four years following her successful run on the 2011 series of American Idol (she finished as runner-up to Scotty McCreery). The singer crafted the song with Jesse Frasure and Meghan Trainor during the time she was battling her eating disorder. However, the trio didn't really talk about what she was going through at the time. "I don't even know really if they knew when we wrote this song that it was kind of about [my eating disorder]," said Alaina. "I mean, I think, sure, during the day, I was talking about how much pressure it was for me and how I feel like this needs to be a certain way and look a certain way."
"But I don't know that I went into detail about, because I was really struggling with an eating disorder at the time, so I was really at the time kind of like me knowing that I needed to believe what I was writing, but it took me a while to really get there," she continued. "I had to listen to this song. I had to write a million songs with this theme to kind of grow in that. So, I think maybe Meghan kind of knew, because she's a really good friend of mine, but I don't think we talked about it in the write. I just think we all felt this feeling to write this theme, and now I get to share it."
The song was written by Lauren Alaina with Jesse Frasure and Meghan Trainor during a 2013 co-writing session at Major Bob Music on 17th Avenue in Nashville. Alaina thinks it was Frasure who provided the title, during a discussion about the Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken," in which the writer chooses the road "less traveled by."
The songwriters tackled the chorus first. "It's nice to have the chorus, because it sets up phrasing, it sets up the storyline, and then you work backward from there," Frasure told Billboard magazine.
The trio then kicked into the body-image issues in the first verse, which was plaguing Alaina at the time. "Even before I was in the spotlight, I really worried about my weight," she conceded. "Then I think just being on national television and people saying not-nice things online really haunted me and made it 10 times worse. I had the eating disorder when I went on Idol, and it really got worse after that."
Lauren Alaina has been friends with Meghan Trainor since before she became a successful recording artist. "It was crazy when she got her record deal," Alaina recalled to ABC Radio
of the "All About That Bass
" singer . "I was like, 'Oh no! I'm not gonna see you anymore! What am I gonna do?' But I still see her. I mean, when I'm in L.A., we hang out. When she's here, we hang out."
The song was Lauren Alaina's second Hot 100 entry entering the chart five and a half years after her runner-up Idol
single "Like My Mother Does
" peaked at 20 in June 2011.
Though the people in Lauran Aliana's life really liked the song when they heard it, they didn't trig that it was about her and her eating disorder.
"Everyone got super excited when I turned that song in. My family, my friends, everyone. But I don't think when I turned that in that they realized how lost I really was and what I was really going through, and so now I think it's even more special to them," said the singer. "They've all watched me walk through that road to recovering from all of my insecurities. I had a lot. And I still do, but I'm a lot healthier about them. I think you don't get rid of the insecurities. They never go away, but you get rid of how you let them affect you. That's the key. And that's what 'Road Less Traveled' is about."
A feature-length film based on the song was released on June 6, 2016. Written by Michael and Samantha Shear and directed by Blair Hayes, Road Less Traveled stars Lauren Alaina in her first movie role.