If Lauren Alaina hadn't competed on American Idol, the 23-year-old country singer hopes that she would still be doing what she's doing now -- but coming in second place (to Scotty McCreery) during the 2011 season of the televised singing competition certainly helped jump-start her career.

"I have my career because of Idol," Alaina told The Boot and other reporters during a recent press conference. "I mean, I would have moved to Nashville after high school anyway, but it happened a little sooner than I expected it to."

However, Alaina admits that the notoriety she earned thanks to her performances on the television show came with challenges of its own: "I had to work really hard at country radio to overcome the stigma that comes with being an American Idol contestant," she explains. "People know you. They perceive it as instantaneous success, although it's not really exactly success, and they think you've taken the easy way."

While the show might not be a completely perfect format for new artists, Alaina is still thrilled to see it returning in 2018, after being off the air for two years. The singer says she's "excited for the new contestants."

"There are people out there who want to sing country music but don't know that you have to move to Nashville, start playing in town and pay your dues. Not everyone knows that; there are towns all over the country where nobody knows that," she adds. "So I'm excited for the people who are talented and have a dream and don't know any other way to make it."

The new American Idol season's judging panel will include Luke Bryan, who was the first country star to take Alaina out on tour.

"I love Luke! He's like a big brother to me," she says. "I think he'll do really well [as a judge.] He's kind, he's honest and he's ... well, he's Luke Bryan. Those are three really good things he has going for him."

The new season of American Idol is set to premiere with a two-hour special on March 11 at 8PM ET on ABC.

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