So Who Is This Austin Mahone?
I’ve been promising a blog entry about Austin Mahone for a while now. Without further research, Austin Mahone seems like another member of what I tend to deem as ‘the pop machine.’ Mahone is a disciple of Justin Bieber, much like Aussie Cody Simpson. That is not to say that Mahone ‘copied’ Bieber cue for cue personally, but it certainly appears that way. One question one has to ask is do artists that are so similar to an established star hurt ‘creativity’ in music? Furthermore, should we bother to be buzzing about Mahone?
Austin Mahone, another youtube discovery just like Justin Bieber, possesses the new ‘swagger.’ What I mean by that is that there is an element of ‘cool’ about him that epitomizes the typical teenager/young adult these days: he sports stud earrings and his clothing/image is fashionable. He represents the trends of his age group well overall. Whether he does/doesn’t consider his style trendy, it very much copies that of Justin Bieber and of his generation in general. There is nothing wrong with any of this, but Mahone comes off pretty indistinct as a new musical personality, which may prove problematic in the long run for the singer. What sets him apart? Certainly diamond studs (they could be CZ’s but you get my point), a tipped backwards cap and a ‘cool’ vibe doesn’t translate to platinum sales.
Is he talented? The answer is actually YES as I have perused a couple of his cover videos on youtube and I understand the attraction by record labels. As a producer/talent scout, I would probably sign him understanding the market and hunger for young stars. He has a solid voice, particularly to be so fun. However, I was not ‘blown away’ per say and he is no more talented than Bieber, who will always be his comparison point. By my estimations, the potential is there, but it needs some sheen.
Case Study: 3 Mahone Performances
Impressions: [Video] I’m Yours Jason Mraz – Austin Mahone cover – Remember this?
Here, on a viral video, Austin performs Jason Mraz‘s “I’m Yours.” What better way to evaluate a new artists than examining their musical performances prior to being signed. To my surprise, Mahone shows off the reason why record labels would look to sign him. He is very soulful here despite his young age. Yeah there are a couple of pitch problems (and the scats seem inauthentic), but ultimately for a then 15-year old (now 16), there is definitely a voice there. So he wins round one.
Here is the hailed original Jason Mraz “I’m Yours” for your listening pleasure:
Impressions: [Video] “Favorite Girl” Justin Bieber cover
OK, we all know that Mahone is one of many Justin Bieber disciples, so what better to assess his vocal prowess than to study the 16-year old covering Bieber. So on this youtube entry, Mahone covers Bieber with more ‘bass’ than Bieber did. He plays guitar (another Justin Bieber trait) accompanying himself here. It’s by no means the second coming, but Mahone holds it down. He doesn’t out-sing his ‘hero,’ but it works and adds to ‘the package.’
Impressions: Austin Mahone, “Say Something”
Finally, I examined Mahone’s current single, “Say Something.” The problem is not ultimately Mahone’s voice, which will continue to mature. The problem is the material; it’s not very distinct. “Say Something” is very much in the vein of One Direction with the anthemic, bubblegum saavy chorus. I mean, the production is OK though nothing remarkable. Mahone sings fine (though he stretches a bit for that falsetto), but there is nothing ‘electrifying’ here. In this regard, Bieber easily eclipses Mahone; his material stands out more (even if you find it annoying) and he commands a bit more charismatically.
The Verdict on The Buzz
Adding to this notion, I think that “Say Something” lacked the ‘character’ of Mahone‘s viral video take on “I’m Yours.” So many times producers are so eager to craft their potential artist into some specified ideas and the results are less satisfactory. I personally don’t think “Say Something” has the ‘swag’ to be a hit in a major setting. Why opt for unknown Mahone over established Bieber. Same argument could/has been made with Cody Simpson. Cody Simpson’s new album certainly can’t touch the numbers that any of Bieber‘s has, which can be attributed to several reasons. That said, don’t think that people can’t catch a ‘copy cat’ when they see one.
So to answer my question, NO I don’t think we should be buzzin’ for Mahone quite yet. He has a solid voice and he has ‘the look’ as I’m sure lots of teenage girls have already discussed and giggled about, but he’s not quite developed the full package. Producers/Songwriters are going to have to do more than base his career on his ‘swagger’ because if “Say Somethin'” is any indication, he won’t get further than a photo shoot.
I dunno. I’ve probably made teenage girls upset everywhere. I’m hard to impress, get over it. 🙂 #TeamPerfectionist