(Featured Image by Catie Laffoon for Atlantic Records)
My last conversation with Charlie was about a snippet of a song he wrote that I couldn’t get out of my head. “Is that still on Youtube?”
“That’s actually on iTunes,” he said. “It’s called ‘Surprise Me.'”
Of course, “Surprise Me,” along with his many original songs, is now part of an old image that Charlie Puth has shed since he started rebranding a few years ago. Although he started out as the silly, curly-haired boy who records songs about his “sexy shades” from his bedroom in New Jersey, Charlie has managed to become the freshest pop newcomer in the form of a #1 song called “See You Again.”
Known for his unique sense of humor in songs like “Man With A Wig” and “Sexy Shades,” Charlie gained a small fan base on Youtube, where his viewers eagerly awaited his song covers, original compositions, vlogs, and silly skits. It wasn’t until his cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You,” however, that his popularity saw a significant rise. He created the video along with friend Emily Luther as an entry to Perez Hilton’s “Can YOU Sing?” contest, and the blogger was so “blown away” that he picked their video as the winner. This put both Puth and Luther on Ellen Degeneres’s radar, who invited the two to be on her show and ultimately signed them into her record label, Eleveneleven.
But world domination doesn’t happen overnight. It took a few years for Puth’s name to regain traction, most notably when Meghan Trainor signed on to be his love interest in his soulful, retro-pop single, “Marvin Gaye.” The favor wasn’t unreturned; Puth can be seen in Trainor’s music video for her song “Dear Future Husband” (whether or not he’s the video’s “good guy,” you have to see for yourself). Even then, Puth has not yet achieved “household name” status. That all changed, however, when he decided to take a chance and fly to the West Coast.
Puth traveled to L.A. on his own dime to pursue being a songwriter and a producer. “Let’s do it. Let’s see what happens,” he said. The next day, he learned through his publisher that “the Fast and Furious people need a song at the end of the movie to honor Paul Walkers’ legacy.” He kept his expectations about the possibility of getting chosen low, “but,” he said, “I’ll try.”
He collaborated with DJ Frank E–whom he’s never met prior to this session–and in 10 minutes, they had a song. Puth sent it off, not expecting to hear about it again. But as we know, he couldn’t be more wrong. Both the Furious team and Atlantic Records were so thrilled, they had Wiz Khalifa jump in to do verses. The song then evolved into a solid tribute that left no dry eyes in the theaters when played at the end of the Furious movie. Since I’m sure you’ve heard the final product, take a listen to the demo version of the song, sans Wiz.
The rest is history for Puth. He has since re-appeared on the Ellen show and performed on SNL, with Wiz by his side. And tonight (press time), the duo will be performing at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards, which is unsurprising considering that their hit, “See You Again,” has been sitting atop the charts for nine weeks now.
Charlie is a reminder that dreams do come true. Many people see singers, performers, or otherwise successful people as untouchables who couldn’t have possibly achieved worldwide fame without the help of voodoo or soul-selling. But they’re just like us; we all live in one world. We all follow the same physics, and we all get 24 hours in a day. It’s okay to look up to people, but don’t forget to apply what you learn from them to your own life–towards your own quest for success. Take chances in life; you never know where they might lead you.
“We’ve come a long way from where we began. Oh I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.” – C.P.