Stacie Orrico, the latest pop princess to win over "TRL" viewers, is sick of being asked about her crossover from the Christian to the mainstream music market.
"It [shouldn't be] so much about 'the mainstream,' 'the Christian,' whatever. I feel like music is music," Orrico said recently. "I am an artist and yes, I am an artist who is Christian, but I make music about all the things I deal with in life, not only my faith. I sing about my faith, my relationships, the good things I do, the mistakes I make. All those things."
As she likes to point out, "There's not Christian doctors and non-Christian doctors. You do what you do, and some are better than others."
"Stuck," Orrico's breakthrough single, is a relationship song, but it also has the young-woman empowerment message common in Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears tunes.
Orrico co-wrote the hit with the same author behind fellow newcomer Lucy Woodward's "Dumb Girls" — Kevin Kadish, who got the ball rolling by asking the 17-year-old what the biggest problems girls her age face in dating.
"I just said teenage girls end up in these relationships where they're not treated very well and they end up on this emotional roller coaster," Orrico explained. "On one hand, they know they should get out because it's not really good for me. But on the other side of it, they are afraid of being alone, they like the security of having a boyfriend. ... They are stuck. It's kind of sad; most teenagers don't have a healthy relationship to look to to go, 'That's how I'm supposed to treat a guy,' so it ends up being a mess."
"Stuck"'s rock edge has garnered Orrico comparisons to Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton, although her self-titled second album is more R&B-flavored, similar to Lauryn Hill, her favorite artist, or Destiny's Child, whom she toured with in 2001.
Dallas Austin (Pink), the Underdogs (Tyrese) and Matt Serletic (Matchbox Twenty), the CEO of Orrico's new label, Virgin Records, share production credits on the album. Songwriting mastermind Diane Warren penned a ballad called "I Promise" for the singer, but Orrico had a hand in most of the songs.
"I feel that's very important for an artist," Orrico said. "I want to reach people my age, and the best way to do it is not to have a 40-year-old man write it."
For her second single, Orrico is eyeing "(There's Gotta Be) More to Life," an inspirational mid-tempo number with the chorus "There's gotta be more to life than chasing down every temporary high to satisfy me."
"I think so many times we feel like we're lacking something in our lives and we try to fill it with the wrong things," she explained. "Sometimes it's drugs, sometimes it's a relationship you shouldn't be in."
Orrico has yet to shoot a video for the song, but she said she'd like to work again with Diane Martel (Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg), who directed the "Stuck" clip, a subtle parody of teen movies shot at the same school where "Grease" was filmed.
"She said, 'What if we mix "Grease" with "Sixteen Candles" with "She's All That" and bring them all together,'" Orrico said. "So that's why you can't put your finger on the style. The hair is kind of '50s, the clothes are kind of '80s."
The singer had so much fun making the video that she signed on for another small-screen endeavor popular for budding stars — portraying a music legend in "American Dreams," the NBC drama based on "American Bandstand."
Orrico played Peggy Santiglia of '60s girl group the Angels in an episode airing next month. Her song, "My Boyfriend's Back," will be included on the soundtrack (see "Vanessa Carlton Does Dusty, B2K Do Temptations On 'American Dreams' LP").
"It was really cool; the way they produced it was all retro," Orrico said. "We used old microphones, and the handclaps are supposed to sound a little bit off."
Orrico is currently on a promotional tour for her album, which was released in March, but she plans to play some radio station festivals and launch a headlining tour this summer. On the outing, she'll play songs from Stacie Orrico as well as from her debut, Genuine, which set Christian music sales records in 2000.
"I want to take care of the fans who have been around for five years," Orrico said.