American Idol has paved the way for many musicians, even for those who don't walk away the winner. It's also given second chances to a select few who showed tremendous improvement from their first go-around to make back onto the show for a second time. That was the case for Alyssa Raghu on the 17th season of the show, which is the series' second year on ABC.
The Orlando native made the decision to return for another audition after previously getting cut at Top 24 the season prior. At the time, Raghu was told she had the voice but needed to work on her performance and discover her "it-factor." She did just that as she rebounded on her second time on American Idol and advanced into the Top 10 before being eliminated in the seventh-eighth spot, proving that sometimes all it takes is a second chance.
"When you're on the show you obviously have this competition mindset because you're singing to win but once you get off the show, you realize all those Internet comments and all those things you were hurt by but also make you 'you' are something you need to embrace," Raghu told PopCulture.com exclusively. "You just got to learn to love yourself and you'll be O.K."
Raghu admitted she struggled with that during her first run and knows other contestants throughout the years have dealt with that. In order to overcome that and make sure her second time on the show would end a different way, she put in a large amount of work in between her first and second season as she attempted to prove herself to Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.
From fine-tuning her vocal skills to working on getting more comfortable on stage by taking dance lessons, Raghu was a completely different person on Season 2.
"I wanted to show them some fierceness and attitude," Rague explained. "I was at home grinding until I felt like I was squeaky clean and ready to do it again. It's a hard process but it's so worth it. It's given us so much."
Raghu, who released her latest single "New and Improved" on Jan. 2, wasn't the only one on Season 17 who had a second shot. The eventual winner, Laine Hardy, was cut the same season Raghu was before returning and taking home the top prize over Alejandro Arranda.
With Season 18 back up and running after premiering on Sunday, Raghu has some advice for those who will be taking another crack at the show, like Layla Spring who won the opportunity to get a second chance.0comments
"I'd say seize every opportunity you can," Raghu stated. "It's such a wonderful experience… make as many connections as you can because people are attracted to personality so be yourself and just do it."
American Idol will air on Sunday nights on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.