Colbie Caillat: From ‘American Idol’ Reject To John Mayer Tourmate

'It happened so fast,' singer says of the overnight success of debut album Coco.

Rejection has never felt so good.

Before her “Bubbly” hit, Colbie Caillat was an unknown singer/songwriter hoping that “American Idol” might be her ticket to a recording contract. Unfortunately, whoever was screening contestants that day was a bit shortsighted — Colbie was turned down at the pre-auditions (that’s right, she didn’t even make it in front of Simon).

But fortunately, there was life after “Idol.” She soon found an audience on MySpace, and 42 million plays later, the labels came calling.

“It happened so fast,” Caillat remembered. “I was just writing songs and putting them up on MySpace, and then I got a record deal. Then it was like, ‘Whoa, you’re going on tour with the Goo Goo Dolls this summer.’ So it was brand-new, but now it’s been a year for me, so it’s kind of like I’m getting used to it all.”

Getting used to it is an understatement, considering Caillat is now a bona fide star. With singles “Bubbly” and “Realize” under her belt, she’s busy with the U.S. leg of her tour (a few of her stops are with John Mayer), preparing for her next album and enjoying the buzz surrounding her video for “Little Things.”

“We shot it in Hawaii — I love Hawaii. [The video] was actually my summer, like, five years ago,” Caillat said. “My friends and I went to Hawaii and rented a runaround car and got a job at this place called Bubba Burger. And we went to the beach and jumped off the pier and went to all these waterfalls. All my friends and family were in the video, and it’s me working at the restaurant in Hawaii and jumping off the pier.”

Hoping to keep her momentum going, she recently covered “Kiss the Girl” from “The Little Mermaid” for the Disney Mania 6 soundtrack and collaborated with Taylor Swift. She’s also hoping to line up projects with Mayer and Jack Johnson, and she plans to hit the studio in January to start recording her new album with an eye on a summer 2009 release.

“With Coco, it was all just fresh and sunny,” Caillat said. “A lot of the songs I’ve been writing lately … I’ve been in different countries and missing home, and a lot of them are melancholy … but then there’s others I wrote on a happy day [that are] just very [upbeat]. It’s going to be like Coco because I write that kind of music, but just different versions.”

But she knows that there’s more to her career and her impact than just her music, so while working away on new projects, she’s also trying to keep it clean for her fans.

“A lot of my fanbase is young girls from 10 to 25,” Caillat said. “So having all these young girls in the audience, I don’t cuss onstage. I don’t write songs about inappropriate things. If they’re looking up to me and stuff, I don’t want to be advising them to do things like that, so I just try to stay away from it.”