Much like her infectious song "Ready or Not," Bridgit Mendler is about to break out, giving Carly Rae Jepsen serious competition with her perfect pop debut. Moving away from her Disney past (which includes a recurring role on Wizards of Waverly Place and a lead in 2011's original movie Lemonade Mouth) Mendler released her debut solo album, Hello My Name Is... this fall and caught fire with a lead single that blends her love of pop culture fairytales with classic Fugees soundbites. She'll turn 20 next week, and plans to enroll in the University of Southern California come January. Popdust spoke to the woman responsible for one of our favorite jams of 2012.
We love "Ready or Not"! In fact, it's one of our favorite songs of 2012.
Oh thank you! Thank you for including me, I feel so honored.
How would you describe your year?
2012 has been really fun. I feel like the "Ready or Not" girl: I'm stepping out, I'm showing who I am, laying it on the table and [hoping] people like it. It's been really fun and really busy, but awesome to see the response.
What's been your favorite moment, or the best response you've received?
Doing a show a few weeks ago in Nashville and having the entire crowd sing "Ready or Not." It was a decently sized audience and they were all singing the song with me and I thought that was like the coolest thing ever. It's just cool to have a bunch of people relate to your music.
When you were recording "Ready or Not," did you have a feeling of how big the song was going to be?
We'll we'd written pretty much all of the album, and I think everybody was really happy but we were still looking for a single. We had a few contenders, but we weren't really coming up with anything until one of the co-writers said, "Yo, guys, check out this Fugees song 'Ready or Not,'" and we said, "OK! Let's try an aural interpolation of that," which is what we did.
Where you a Fugees fan beforehand?
I've heard certain songs but I didn't really follow the group specifically, so I hadn't heard "Ready or Not" before. It's an awesome song, and it was cool to find the Delfonics' song before that. It's kind of like this chain reaction of "Ready or Not."
Do you have a favorite line?
I like the top of the song: establishing the scene of a girl who's finding her way into the world. And of course I love the William and Kate part ["You'll be my William, I'll be your Kate/Livin' like a fairytale"], and all the lavish things that she's going to do.
So you'd consider yourself an Anglophile?
I haven't really followed the William and Kate story that much, but it's such a dream—of course, every little girl is like, "I want to be a princess!" Of course I love their story; I think it's awesome and I love England.
My favorite line in the song is, "I love your face, do you like my song?"
Oh yeah, a lot of people love that one!
Whose idea was that?
We were trying to think of a fun way to be flirtatious in the chorus. I think it's cool to reference the song, talk about finding [that person] in the crowd and [create the idea that] you're playing this tune to bring them to you.
What's more important to you: someone liking your "face," or your music?
Probably music, honestly, because I think that's more of who I am than my appearance.
Is there an unsung hero of "Ready or Not" who deserves some recognition?
I think it was definitely a team effort between all the writers, but I'd say Evan Bogart, the guy who came up with the idea of doing the Fugees. He really loves that '90s rap style and he was a really great voice to have on the album.
Do you have any studio rituals to help get ideas flowing?
I think we just end up talking about stuff. I love ordering food—it fuels your brain!—and I love looking up YouTube videos. One time we just looked at Saturday Night Live videos for a really long time.
Do you have a favorite clip you and your friends are sending around right now?
The "Gangnam Style" video is pretty fun.
Did you catch Psy dancing with MC Hammer at the American Music Awards?
No way! What a superstar.
What was your favorite phrase this year?
It's kind of ditzy—but, like, ironically ditzy—but I say "cray" or "cray cray" as short for "crazy." People are like, "Oh my God she sounds like an idiot," but it's not like you're trying to sound intelligent when you say "cray cray."
And you're so busy, you definitely don't have time to say full words.
What's been your favorite song of 2012?
I really like Ellie Goulding's "Anything Could Happen." Good message too, right?
She's awesome. What about television shows?
I really liked this season of The Bachelorette.
I'm looking forward to the next Bachelor season, personally.
Yeah! Are you a Sean [Lowe] fan?
Well, I watched Ben's season and also Bachelor Pad...
Oh my God! That's great. I can't bring myself to watch Bachelor Pad.
It's pretty shameless. Any plans for 2013?
I'm planning on doing Good Luck Charlie season four and a little bit of travel for album promo. There are a few shows that we're hopefully going to do, and I'm starting college...
Congrats! How do you feel about that?
I'm really excited! I'm going to USC. I think I'm a little stressed; I don't know how it's going to work, but I think it will be really fun. I like meeting people and being able to be a normal person. It would nice, maybe, if [other students] know my music, but I'm just [looking forward] to being a normal student like the rest of them.
Do you like football?
No, I really don't follow football, unfortunately [laughs]. But maybe I'll become a fan?
Check out more of our Best of 2012 interviews with your favorite stars, including: