Future Stars: Alex Aiono (Interscope)

Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

Since the major labels discovered that a large YouTube following didn’t guarantee pop stardom and chart success, they’ve been much more cautious about signing YouTuber-musicians. However, it can still be a smart move when the artist actually has what it takes, regardless of their online popularity, such as in the case of Troye Sivan and Alessia Cara. I’m not sure yet which side of that line Alex Aiono sits on, but I do think he has pop star potential if he can avoid falling into the cheese trap. Alex moved from Phoenix to LA to pursue his music career at age 14, and was discovered while busking. He released a few singles, including Young & Foolish (written by John Legend), and some cringey music videos, and acted in Awesomeness TV series Royal Crush. He was just another cute YouTube singer making sub-par pop until he had his 2016 breakthrough moment, his self-produced mash-up of Drake’s One Dance and Nicky Jam’s Hasta el Amanecer, which now has almost 60 million views. The viral video put him among the top ranks of YouTube stars, and earned him a deal with Interscope. His latest single for the label is a strong pop tune called Question, and while I’m not sure it has the edge or originality to be a hit, it finally connects the dots and shows the charismatic, fun pop star he could be.

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