In person, Hough is as charming and unpretentious as she appears on 'Dancing.' The girl next door with the beauty-queen looks laughs easily and often at herself. Before her AOL Music Sessions rehearsal starts, a man stops Hough in the hall to tell her how great her long, flowing locks look and asks if that hair is all hers. She laughs and says, "Of course it is," before pausing for a playful beat and adding, "It's connected to it." As the cameras prepare to roll, she admits that even though she was practically born in high heels, her feet are killing her and she is happy to lighten her load during her chat with The Boot. Read the full interview after the jump.
Where were you when you found out that your album debuted at No. 1, and how did you celebrate?
I was in Mazatlan [Mexico], so I kept getting these e-mails and phone calls, and I could not pick up because my phone didn't work there. I was with my family and friends, so we just celebrated in Mazatlan -- a good place to celebrate!
What were you looking for when you were going through the dozens of songs offered to you for the album?
I wanted the album to depict who I was, so I said, "This is what I want to sing about, this is what I won't sing about." Everything on this album I either personally can relate to, or somebody very close to me has gone through themselves. I love the fun uptempo stuff, but at the same time I do want to touch on things that hit home for me like 'Help Me Help You' and 'Jimmy Ray McGee.'
'Help Me Help You' is about an alcoholic parent, so how does that touch you?
The first line is "She started with a margarita, then she went straight to the tequila," and it was just overwhelming to me because I've got friends and a family member that has definitely had an alcohol problem. I've tried to help them -- not preaching but just "I'm here for you, whatever you need to do, but I can't help you unless you can help yourself."
What kinds of songs made the cutting-room floor?
I don't drink; I don't sleep around; I don't do drugs. So I wasn't gonna talk about anything like that on my album. That's not who I am.
We heard that people kept bringing you songs that had the word "dance" in the title.
Crossing over from 'Dancing With the Stars,' I wanted people to see me as a singer. So I was like, "I don't wanna sing anything about dancing!" I don't want people to relate to me being a dancer. Obviously it's been such a great opportunity for me to showcase who I am, but I wanna be a singer that just so happens can dance, too.
Why country music instead of pop?
I have been listening to country music since as long as I can remember. When you think about the artist and the, they're so real. You can sing about anything -- love songs, breaking up, controversial songs, alcohol songs and 'badonkadonk" songs. It's all about relating to people and being real, and that's who I am.
You've been spending a lot of time in Nashville. Have you ever been starstruck there?
Completely starstruck [by] Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. I looked up to Faith when I was growing up. She's such an amazing singer and she's beautiful, but she also has a family -- I love that, the morals and everything. So when I got to meet her, I got overwhelmed, and I swear if we would have sat there for longer than 30 seconds I probably would have started crying! [Laughs]
Has anyone given you great advice that you've carried around with you?
Billy Ray Cyrus was on the show, and he said, "Just make sure that you stay real, because if you're exactly who you are, people will fall in love with you." And that's always stuck with me.
How do you think 'Dancing With the Stars' is helping your music career versus how it may hurt it?
What's been awesome is the exposure that you can get from television, because it's so hard with the music industry nowadays to get in there and really get people backing you. Especially for me being on a reality show, they get to see your personality and get to know you, so they feel a connection with you. Obviously I love to dance, so being on 'Dancing' was great fun, but my heart is with the music. And even with 'American Idol,' Kellie Pickler didn't win but still has a career from that, and it's because of the exposure. We can go there and be like every other artist and take 8 to 10 years to get your foot in the door, but this was a great way.
Who's your dream partner on 'Dancing With the Stars'?
I always say Josh Turner, because he's like the epitome of a man. He's got that low voice. I even told him that, and he was like, 'I cannot dance, sorry.' But oh, well, it's more about the fun anyway.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about you?
That I've had it all just handed to me on a plate, because my music career was really fast. I signed, I did the album, and I put it out. But I have worked really hard for this. I moved away from my family when I was 10 years old. I was even singing and dancing before that. I had to make a really big decision to move back from England [where she studied dance] when I was 15 years old. If I stay in England, my whole life is set. I've got my dancing career that will make me a lot of money, but that just wasn't where my heart was.
What's the craziest rumor you've heard about yourself?
The craziest rumors are all romantic rumors. I have never hooked up with any of my partners from 'Dancing With the Stars,' record straight. But like on PEOPLE magazine it was like, 'Julianne Hough is a homewrecker.' No way I would never do that! I love Helio and Apolo as friends, and good thing there were no rumors about Adam [Carolla] and I, because that would be just wrong. But the fact that people are talking about you I guess is OK.
You've been named one of TV's sexiest stars by TV Guide and one of Maxim's hottest women. Do you think that helps or hurts the image you're trying to portray?
[Laughs] Honestly, with TV Guide, there are gorgeous people in there and I was really flattered to be a part of that. As for Maxim, I was like, 'Oh. my gosh, this is crazy, I'm in Maxim!' But it was funny because I think I was Number 30 or something -- it's just crazy. I would not consider myself sexy, because I'm just kind of goofy and like to have fun.