Plus: EW premieres the acoustic version of her song 'Shine'
Credit: Asher Moss

The Bachelor just got a little more bad-ass. During their one-on-one date in New Orleans on Monday’s episode, Nick and Rachel caught an intimate performance from rising singer LOLO, who belted out the song “Shine” from her latest (and excellently titled) album, In Loving Memory of When I Gave a S—. For a longtime Bachelor fan like LOLO, the offer to come on the show prompted a momentary freak-out. “I was on tour when I found out I was going to be on the show,” LOLO, 29, tells EW. “I got the phone call when I was standing in the lobby of the hotel I was staying in that night. I was like, ‘I cannot start screaming in front of all these people because nobody’s going to have any idea what’s going on.’” Before the episode aired, LOLO (real name: Lauren Pritchard) filled EW in on what it was like to go behind the scenes, the difficult origins of “Shine,” and her unlikely journey from Broadway to The Bachelor. She also shared a new acoustic version of “Shine,” which is premiering on EW today. Here’s the lowdown on LOLO:

She’s a hardcore member of Bachelor Nation

The singer has watched every season of the show and its spin-offs since she was a young girl. “I’ve spent all of my adult life away from my parents in Tennessee because I’ve been working, and The Bachelor has always been a fun thing for my mom and I to have,” she says. Years of watching The Bachelor led LOLO to believe that it would be pure chaos behind-the-scenes, but her experience on set was anything but: “When you watch the show, the overall tension and energy feels very high-stakes,” she says. “I was pleasantly surprised that it was a lot more chill than I was expecting. Everybody was super lovely.”

This season, she’s rooting for Vanessa, the special-education teacher from Montreal, to win Nick’s heart. “A lot of people try and laugh off The Bachelor, but you have to be really f—ing brave to put yourself out there,” LOLO says. “You have to be brave to put yourself out there to date, period. But you have also have to be a whole other type of brave to put yourself out there on TV and be willing to be vulnerable. I have a lot of respect for anyone who takes that big step.”

Her song ‘Shine’ is about struggling with mental health

This standout track from last year’s In Loving Memory of When I Gave a S— came out of a time of deep depression. “I don’t think depression wears well on anybody, but it really does not wear well on me,” she says. “I was really struggling with anxiety as well on top of everything else. It got to a point where I wasn’t sleeping and had to take medication. The whole thing was mentally frustrating, and I felt very cloudy.”

When she realized it was on her to pull herself out of that fog, LOLO found the words to write the song. “‘The only person who can help you is yourself’ — that’s a statement we’ve all heard,” LOLO says. “But until you really have to apply that in a way that’s challenging for you, it just doesn’t make any sense. And for me, the result of that moment was this song. I realized the only way I could rise above [my depression] was to work hard, put one foot in front of the other, and figure out how to put the pieces back together.”

Listen to the acoustic version of “Shine,” premiering today on EW, below:

She originally wrote ‘Shine’ for Kelly Clarkson

Despite the song’s deeply personal lyrics, LOLO’s first instinct after writing “Shine” was to give it away. “I sent it to my manager like, ‘I wrote this song for Kelly Clarkson, I think it’s a really good song but I’d love her to sing it,’” LOLO recalls. “And he wrote me back like, ‘No, you’re singing this song.’ We went round-for-round about that for a while.” Now, she’s glad she kept it; hearing from fans on tour about how the song has helped them has been humbling and rewarding, LOLO says. One particularly meaningful interaction took place after a show in Maryland, when a fan pulled her aside to say that listening to the song was like “‘listening to all of the things I wanted to say myself but have never been able to put down on paper.’”

“That was a really moving thing for me to hear,” LOLO says. “I know I’m not alone in feeling like I don’t have the answers or don’t know what’s right, but I’m still going to try my f—ing damndest to figure it out and do the very best I can. That’s all I can give myself.”

She has a Broadway background

“I talk about my career like I’m a cat — I’ve had several lives in the industry already,” LOLO says. No kidding: In 2006, she originated the role of Ilse in the Broadway production of Spring Awakening alongside Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff. Then, in 2010, she released her first album under the name Lauren Pritchard, Wasted in Jackson, and later collaborated with bands like Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco. She also wrote the country-inspired score for the Off-Broadway musical Songbird, which opened in 2015. “Theater has always played a huge role in my life, and because of that there is a natural theatrical tendency to things I do,” she says. “Between the writing I’ve done for myself and with other bands, being able to own the theatrical side of myself has been really fun.”

Still, she calls the raw, soulful tunes of In Loving Memory the “purest” expression of who she is as an artist. “I went through phases where I wanted to try things that weren’t my natural tendencies at all—more electronic things, bigger productions,” she says. “But it’s nice to come back around and present myself as the surfer-punk, musical theater-loving, comic book-loving nerd that I am.”

LOLO’s In Loving Memory of When I Gave a S— is out now. Catch LOLO on tour next month:

Jan. 31: Philadelphia, PA; Boot & Saddle
Feb. 1: Boston, MA; Great Scott
Feb. 2: New York, NY; Mercury Lounge
Feb. 7: Nashville, TN; 12th & Porter
Feb. 8: Evanston, IL; SPACE
Feb. 9: Davenport, IA; The Village Theatre
Feb. 13: Atlanta, GA; Vinyl
Feb. 21: Orlando, FL; The Social
Feb. 23: Chapel Hill, NC; Local 506
Feb. 24: Washington, DC; DC9
Feb. 26: Troy, NY; The Hanger
Feb. 27: Burlington, VT; Higher Ground Showcase Lounge

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