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OCT
15
9 MOS

Scotty McCreery: 'See You Tonight' Is a 'Much Better Record' Than His Last (Video)

The "American Idol" winner -- and seemingly normal college student -- follows his record-breaking debut, "Clear as Day," with a new release on Tuesday, Oct. 15.

Scotty McCreery is living a double life.

The American Idol alum, who found fame as the show's tenth season victor, insists that he's "no different" than any of his classmates at North Carolina State University -- though we haven't heard of many college sophomores releasing an anticipated studio album right in the middle of fall semester.

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"Music is my number one priority," McCreery says, "but Monday through Wednesday are the days that I'm in class … it's no different than pretty much any other college kid's experience. I just walk around like everybody else."

Seated in The Hollywood Reporter's mid-Wilshire Los Angeles office, McCreery is making his West Coast press rounds on a warm Thursday in September.

In between a full slate of classes, intramural flag football games and attending parties on campus, McCreery worked closely with producer and songwriter Frank Rogers to craft See You Tonight -- the 20-year-old's third release in three years.

Following his chart-topping, record-breaking debut, Clear as Day, and a 2012 Christmas album, See You Tonight is a "much better record" than McCreery's first, he says, having spent more time on it and even penning five of its 13 tracks.

"That first record, we cranked it out pretty quick and that was just coming off the show and the Idol tour while trying to make the record," McCreery says. "If I heard a song I liked, we put it on the record. With this one, we really took our time and listened to thousands of songs and [wrote] all kinds of songs, and picked the 13 best."

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Says McCreery, "I think we came up with a much better record because of the time we put into it."

That's not to say he regrets moving quickly to put product on the marketplace just five months after his Idol coronation. "There's something to be said for getting momentum out there and taking advantage of that, and obviously my camp, we went out there and put a good record out there in October."

The rush paid off. Clear as Day debuted atop the Billboard 200 albums chart, making McCreery the first country act to debut at No. 1 with his first solo album and at 18 years old, the youngest man to open at the top of the chart with his debut release.

With such a strong start to a budding career, is McCreery feeling any pressure to outdo himself with See You Tonight?

"The way I look at it, the sales will come if you have good songs," he says. "Luckily, the sales for Clear as Day were incredible. We could have never expected that. I'm not looking at this record saying, 'We gotta beat the sales of that.' I wanted my music to grow, I wanted my music to be better, and we've accomplished that, I think."

E-mail: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com
Twitter: @SophieSchillaci