Tag Archives: Island Def Jam

PROFILE: American Authors Write Their “Best” Story Yet

"Life" in the fast lane.

“Life” in the fast lane.

Dan Brown, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell, J.D. Salinger… chances are that you’ve read a book by at least one of these writers. All of these American authors have given us classics that new generations of readers still turn to today. So, when a band comes along called American Authors, you’d hope that they would be capable of creating their own classics as well. They stand by the philosophy that, “we all have a story to tell, whether it’s audible, visual, silence or motion,” and from recorded music to photographs and the live experience of a concert, they manage to combine all four into their group. They’ve been at it for a few years now, and with a little patience, the quartet consisting of lead vocalist Zachary Barnett, lead guitarist James Shelley, bassist Dave Rublin and drummer Matt Sanchez are ready to pop.

I have to love an act that originated in Boston and American Authors formed back in 2006 at the Berklee College of Music. The school’s also provided us with members of acts currently on the charts like Imagine Dragons, Karmin and Passion Pit. All four attended together at the same time, originally taking on the name The Blue Pages. They eventually moved to Brooklyn after spending a few years in Beantown. They released two albums, Anthropology (2011) and Rich With Love (2012), but decided following those that the name wasn’t working for them. So, they got their thinking caps on and came up with American Authors, which landed them a record deal with Mercury Records/Island Def Jam in 2013. With bands like Neon Trees and Parachute on the same roster, they fit perfectly.

Their first single, “Believer”, flirted with the Alternative top 50 recently, but never made it beyond #48 on any given update. That last time it showed up on there was on Monday with a decrease in spins, but it’s since been missing in action. It does appear that the support for it has been pulled since it never really got off the ground. It’s a shame, but luckily, lightning can definitely strike this time as they prepare for a multi-format smash: “Best Day Of My Life”, which will appear on a forthcoming EP by the band to be released on August 27. It goes to radio the day before at the Hot AC format.

While I’m surprised it hasn’t been serviced to a few other radio formats first (AAA and Alternative), “Best” should do well enough at Hot AC. They may be an unknown band, but their song is catchy and uplifting and just makes you want to dance around. (Or, maybe just feel good.) Now, while you can dismiss it as a second-rate version of “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons with a folky twist in the chorus, I’d like to think, at least from my standpoint, that’s a little more instant and accessible than the song that might have paved the way for it. The chorus is more simplified and it’s easier to sing along to. It just sounds like the type of song you would want to hear during either the spring or the fall; there’s something both organic and playful about how it’s arranged and how the final product came out. It’s (so far) a solid choice of release and it looks to have a bright future both on and off airwaves.

The label seems to have a long-term strategy in place for the band to get a bit of exposure. Since April, “Best” has been used in an advertisement for Lowe’s. It’s also being used in a trailer (beginning at 1:27) for the movie Delivery Man, starring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders. That isn’t in theaters until November 22. If it’s been easy enough to secure those placements, don’t be surprised if it ends up promoting an upcoming fall TV series (I’m looking at you, weight loss shows) in the near future. ‘Til then, the boys are playing smaller venues through the end of August, plus three additional dates in September. If these bookworms know anything, it’s about reading between the lines, and should they seize the opportunity, “Best Day Of My Life” will be their first of many best-sellers.

Purchase “Best Day Of My Life” on iTunes. / Purchase “Believer” on iTunes.


Filed under Charts/Trade Papers, Music News, Single Reviews

PROFILE: Nikki Williams Is “Glowing” And Growing

Darling Nikki.

Darling Nikki.

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.

Buy “Glowing” on iTunes.

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!


Filed under Music News, Single Reviews