If this were the nineties, he’d already be a star.
That’s the power of video, that’s the power of a monoculture.
You won’t get it if you listen to the new single “Driver” on Spotify. You won’t even get it if you listen to the version of “Dark Four Door” on Spotify. But if you watch the above video, you’ll be closed!
Oh, I know, I know, some of you will say it’s manipulated, it’s over-dramatic, but somehow Billy Raffoul’s performance is the antidote to everything popular today. It’s simple, it’s one man and his guitar, singing from his gut, there’s an authenticity emerging from his soul.
But maybe it’s because he’s Canadian.
Canada is different. It’s harder to be gigantic, but it’s easier to get noticed, and the government supports you, such that there’s a broader swath of music making it, not just hip-hop and pop.
So you watch this video and want to see Raffoul live. A guy who didn’t bother to change his name to “Keys” or “Legend,” there’s no fakery involved.
And if you’re in the target demo, and I mean under the age of 25, if you’re not jaded, having seen it all, Raffoul speaks to you, and embodies the part, i.e. the girls want to get next to him and the boys want to be him. Never ever underestimate the power of one person and a guitar. If you can convey your story sans effects…
Now you’ve got to credit Frank Ockenfels, who shot this clip. Everybody’s got a camera today, but few know how to use it. And without the swirling images too often employed in this supposedly short attention span era, you can’t take your eyes off of Raffoul, he’s all there is.
Now Raffoul may enter through the side door. He’s the featured vocalist on one track of Avicii’s new EP. And I won’t say it’s blown up, but in one week it’s had greater play than that of any of Raffoul’s cuts which have been in the marketplace longer. And the truth is today, anything that starts hot usually fails, not that Avicii’s EP can’t fail either, but now it’s not about bludgeoning the gatekeepers but penetrating the public consciousness, getting people familiar with a song/sound and having them spread the word and listen until it blows up.
So, it used to be the label pushed the button and you were a star. Or didn’t get off the starting line and failed miserably. But we knew your story, we knew you were coming.
And the truth is we still know hip-hop artists are coming, there’s a whole culture there.
But it’s nonexistent elsewhere. It’s like after a war. Bombed out, people numb, unable to pick up the pieces. Everybody but hip-hoppers and popsters missed the streaming memo.
But will acts like Billy Raffoul emerge in the aftermath? Acts you want to see not to clip your coupon but to bond with the emotion of live?
Time will tell.
But Billy’s a secret today.
He should be more than that.