It might sound a little stunning to hear a songwriter talk about how quickly they walk away from an unfinished idea. For Lizzy McAlpine, that decision can come swiftly.

“If it doesn’t happen in like an hour, then it’s not meant to happen at all,” she says about her own songwriting process.

That’s the intuitive approach McAlpine took on her star-making second album, five seconds flat. She spent two months on the Oregon Coast writing and recording the story of a relationship gone south, and it has resonated.

Lizzy McAlpine - ceilings (official video)

One of the album tracks, “Ceilings,” went viral on TikTok, and it’s racked up more than 200 million streams on Spotify. That’s the second time McAlpine has struck viral gold. In 2020, she uploaded a snippet of a demo called “You Ruined the 1975” to the social media platform and racked up millions of view (and plenty of fans, too).

While sharing a lot of her musical process — and her life — on social media has paid off for McAlpine, the Philadelphia-area native says she wanted to take a step back this time around.

“For this album, I’m trying to be a little more discerning with what I post because I kind of want the surprise element,” she says.

McAlpine joined World Cafe to talk about making five seconds flat, her desire to keep one foot in the world of theater and acting, and her go-to order whenever she has a chance to come home and drop by Wawa.