Meet Nikki Williams, a budding singer and songwriter who is rising among the ranks of pop music’s biggest stars. You may not know her name now, but in several months, she may just be blowing up on the charts with her debut single, “Glowing”. (Listen to the full song on YouTube.)
24-year-old Williams was born in the large city of Port Elizabeth on the coast of South Africa and made the leap to the United States at the age of sixteen, settling for a while in Nashville before moving to Los Angeles. Now, you’re probably thinking, when was the last time a new South African act broke here in the States? We’ve had soloists like Hugh Masekela of “Grazing In The Grass” fame and Dave Matthews, whose band continues to put out new material twenty years into their career, but dance and pop acts from the country crossing over to our market are virtually nonexistent. Williams is definitely hoping to change that.
She’s picked up a few years experience as a songwriter, most recently co-writing Demi Lovato’s new hit, “Heart Attack”. The song’s already gone to #1 on iTunes. She’s currently signed to Island Def Jam Music Group in the U.S., who are handling the promotion of her debut album. No title has been released. Several months ago, a video was released for the promotional single “Kill, F***, Marry”, which has accumulated nearly 800,000 views on YouTube. The atmospheric pop song may be an indication of where her full-length release is headed, with a lush vocal and a slightly subdued production. It’s not brash and in-your-face; it just seeps in and grabs a hold of you.
We’re at the point where the label is readying her first radio release, “Glowing”, which goes to the CHR format on March 19, though the song’s been readily available on the internet since November through her official YouTube account. It’s more of a dance song than “Marry”, almost similar to an Avicii composition, but for good reason. It all has to do with who’s behind the song. The single was co-written by Arnthor Birgisson, Daniel James, Leah Pringle, Bebe Rexha and Sandy Vee. Birgisson is an Iceland songwriter/producer who has been in the industry for at least fifteen years, creating hits for 98 Degrees, Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Simpson. James and Pringle are a married couple, the latter herself being a former top ten artist on the ARIA Singles Chart in Australia. Both have done work with acts like Miley Cyrus and The Wanted, among others. Rexha is a little more unknown, but she worked with some members of Fall Out Boy when they went on hiatus on a side project called Black Cards. She sang lead for them until early 2012. You’re probably most familiar with Vee’s work, as the French producer has been behind big singles for David Guetta, Katy Perry, Pitbull and Rihanna.
With all that history, you know it’s going to be a catchy song, regardless of whether you’ve heard it or not. Lyrically, it’s your standard boy comes into a girl’s life, she falls head over heels in love kind of story line. He saves her life, then she states that, “A million hearts, but you’re the only one / Who lights it up, like I’m glowing in the dark.” It’s cute, but it’s also familiar. It’s largely a repetition of one solid verse and the strong chorus that I’ve pointed out. It’s leaves a little to be desired, compared to her first overall single release. However, she has a great voice and a striking image that will carry her far. A little bit of depth could’ve helped, but it’s not the most essential thing about getting her out there. Plus, if she becomes a big star, I’m sure she’ll get around to releasing more material that showcases the variety that she’s very much capable of. For now, “Glowing” is a good introduction for her in the States, and while it may get some comparisons to current female pop singers of the day like Carly Rae Jepsen or Jessie J, Williams can hold her own.
The success of the song thus far has been reduced to Canada, where it continues to gain airplay on their Hot AC format. With a Stateside takeover just a few months away, a boost in airplay and sales will be coming in no time. Watch out for Williams coming to a radio station near you.
CONTEST: Williams’s label, Island Def Jam, is giving producers and DJs access to the stems of her song “Kill F*ck Marry” for their newest contest, which enables you to remix her song for a chance to appear on her official home page and social media sites. However, the deadline is March 25, so you better act quickly. Here are the official rules:
1. All the stems you need are at this link.
2. Create your remix of the song using these stems and the original vocals from the song (no cover versions.)
3. Upload your creation and title it as “KFM Remix – (insert your name here)” as response to this video and don’t forget to make it public. In the description of your video, include your preferred name, an email address, Facebook URL (music page or personal) and Twitter handle.
The winner will be picked based on originality, creativity, and commercial satisfaction. Again, your submission must be in by March 25. Good luck!