Betty Who is the best example of the modern-day pop star we’ve got. Leveraging grassroots support via social media – she rose to fame in the fall of 2013 when an adorable flash mob proposal video featuring her song “Somebody Loves You” went viral,
– Who recently made her major label debut with the Slow Dancing EP, and now she’s preparing for her first ever Lollapalooza appearance.
Speaking to #NextUp, Who is quick to point out that she has big pop star dreams. “I live in New York, and every time I pass Madison Square Garden it’s a moment for me, like, ‘That’s where I want to be’,” shared Who. Lofty dreams, to be sure, but listening to the effervescent, glittery 80′s stomp of singles “Somebody Loves You” and “Heartbreak Dream,” which in our ears places Who somewhere between Katy Perry and Sky Ferreira, makes us believe she has a really good shot of making it all happen.
Today, she’s signed to RCA and steadily working on a major label debut with Starsmith, Claude Kelly and Babydaddy, and her Slow Dancing EP — the long-awaited follow-up released on April 8 — is sitting cozy at the #1 spot on the iTunes Pop Albums Chart.
The Slow Dancing EP is essentially a bridge between The Movement EP and what’s to come, once again crafted alongside rising pop producer and BFF who helped her forge her signature sound, Peter Thomas who previously featured her in his soundcloud release.
This time around, the music’s got a particularly “live” sounding punchiness, no doubt informed by Betty’s frequent showcases over the past year: The EP’s crashing lead single “Heartbreak Dream,” for example, bursts from the speakers with a burst of crashing drums and guitars, armed the kind of anthemic chant (“Oo-ooh-ooh-OOH-ooh!”) that simply begs to be scream-shouted from the rafters.
“Alone Again” and “Giving Me Away” — both of which sound like Billboard Top 10s imported from 1987 (and/or lost John Hughes soundtrack classics) — are now polished to studio perfection on the Slow Dancing EP, and offer the closest continuation of The Movement‘s nostalgic sound. “Alone Again,” a dreamy midtempo bounce is the stuff of glittering prom night dreams, while “Giving Me Away,” my personal favorite, earnestly surges forward atop a propulsive synth-pop crunch: “You should kiss me like you mean it again, ’cause I don’t want to be your friend,” she cautions before diving into a monster of a chorus that requires only one listen to be lodged firmly in your brain for weeks on end. A song like “Giving Me Away” is the essence of Betty Who’s appeal — it’s the way she pairs love-drunk earnesty and vulnerability with slick songcraft that makes her music so appealing.
The EP also allows some breathing room for Betty to explore some new sound ahead of her debut: “Lovin Start,” for instance, sees Betty slipping into some #SomethingMoreSensual R&B and letting her freak flag fly a bit in the vein of Miguel and Prince, bump ‘n grinding against funky disco bass licks and atmospheric electronica. “I just wanna explore ya ’cause you know I adore ya,” she intimately coos. “Silas,” on the other hand, allows Betty to stretch her singer-songwriter wings, as she carefully coos a lullaby-like ode above a slow-strumming guitar.
In a way, the Slow Dancing EP is less of an evolution in sound and more of a deeper dive into the world of Betty Who via sweet nothings and love letters set to song. “I’m hopelessly romantic and I hope that he can stand it,” she confesses during “Silas,” practically whispering into our ears.
No bottle poppin’, no booty droppin’ (well, except on stage) — it’s all pure romance.
Watch the full interview below, plus a lovely acoustic performance of “Somebody Loves You.”
My favorite song in the EP is Lovin' Start. The production was so good.