By Gregory Watton And Craig Clizbe
Experimenting with pop songs matched for his age bracket, Cody Simpson’s career up to this point has been like a soul searching mission to find his voice and place in the music industry, and after some trial and error, Cody may have finally found his sound with the first single “Wish You Were Here” off his debut album Paradise. The young singer is growing up, and he wants his fans to grow up with him. He wants to show his roots in the music he shares with his fans and give them something to relate to in the process. It’s a journey with a destination and Cody wants us all to come along for the ride.
The Australian born performing artist is following in the footsteps of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber. He can sing, dance, play guitar, has the right look and talent to win over not only the hearts of young teenage music lovers, but maybe even your own heart as well. Cody had been posting videos up on YouTube for a year and a half before being contacted by music producer Shawn Campbell. At first, Cody and his parents were a bit suspicious by the contact.
Cody described his initial introduction to Campbell in an interview with Jojo Wright from KIIS FM. “With all the internet danger now and stuff, my parents thought he was suspicious, but then we Googled him and we gave him a call on Skype, and he was real.”
So who exactly is Shawn Campbell anyway? For those who don’t already know, Shawn is a Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter. His credits include work with Missy Elliot, Chris Brown, Jay-Z, and Foxy Brown, but rather than chasing already established artists for a cut that could lead to a possible hit, the real street credit comes when you find your own artists, develop them, and present them to the world. That’s what Shawn decided to do.
Speaking in an interview with BMI, Shawn Campbell reminisced about his discovery of Cody Simpson, “I was struck by how musically talented he was. He was so good as a musician and guitar player that I thought he was brimming with potential.” He continued to elaborate on his motivation to help mold Cody into a Pop star.
“I decided that the smart thing to do was to develop my own acts, create demand for them, and then get them placed at different labels or independently,” Campbell has been quoted as saying.
Contacted by Campbell in August of 2009, Cody and his parents made arrangements to meet and record with Campbell on the East Coast of the United States beginning in September 2009, where the culmination of a musical dream began to take shape almost immediately. When talking about what it was like meeting Cody, Shawn’s interview with BMI reveals, “We only did one recording session, and it was magic. I was thrilled beyond words, because the young fella spoke to me in terms that I could understand. It was almost like I was talking to a 30-year old,” Campbell says of his first recording session with Simpson.
The dream continued to unfold as Cody signed to Atlantic Records in April of 2010–with the help of Campbell’s major label connections,which led to the release of his debut single, “iYiYi” featuring his Atlantic label mate rapper, Flo Rida.
“Flo and I worked with some amazing people,” Cody says enthusiastically as quoted in his biography found on his website (codysimpson.com), “including Colby O’Donis, Bei Major, and DJ FrankE. We came up with something really catchy. I think everyone can relate to the lyrics. The song is about liking a girl and missing her when she’s not around. Who hasn’t been through that?”
Cody Simpson Featuring Flo Rida
From 4 U EP
Thanks to “Iyiyi’s” catchy sound and fun video, Atlantic seemed to be ready to introduce their new teen talent to the world. However, despite the video receiving millions of views, it was not quite everything the label needed to properly launch Cody as the next big thing. Being a new artist breaking ground in a single driven digital market, Cody has entered a Pop music world where consumers can also be some of your harshest critics. Media fragmentation and constant options for different kinds of media consumption has caused today’s Pop listeners to have increasingly shorter attention spans in that online music world. Therefore, that Pop music landscape can be much more competitive than it has been for Pop stars of past generations. It is that connection that is so important to make with those critics who are hoped to be turned into loyal fans is at times more challenging than ever. No matter how good the singer is and how well produced their single is, it is important to remember that the determining factor that makes a song a hit or not has to do with the listener’s perception of the artist’s entire package being presented. At the time that Atlantic released Cody, the world was hotter than ever with Bieber fever. With that said, the audience did not immediately identify with “iYiYi”. This is possibly because the song’s producer, DJ Frank-E, had previously been noticed for working with Justin Bieber on his first EP, My World. This was a time when he also sounded very young like Cody in “Iyiyi.” It could be said that Cody’s potential audience that is no doubt full of Belieber’s, did not know how to interpret someone with such a similar sound, without possibly perceiving his talent as a copy, since the two artists have such a similar story of discovery on YouTube. We also cannot forget that Pop radio only has so much room for such a young voice on their playlists. So after Justin Bieber finally broke through to radio in 2010 thanks to the massive support from his fan base, Cody undoubtedly had an up- hill battle ahead of him with that debut single even if it had hit potential. But as time would pass, Cody would also have to prove to us all that he is up for the challenge.
From My World EP
Relocating to Los Angeles was a necessary step to getting the ball rolling for the young singer. Following the release of his debut single, Cody participated in the Camplified tour that took him across the country to over 30 different summer camps. In December of 2010, Cody’s debut EP, 4 U was released, helping Cody and his team to promote “iYiYi” on a higher level, as well as introduce us the viral hit “All Day”, which took the #1 spot on Radio Disney’s “Top 30 Countdown.”
From 4 U EP
For a young artist whose main target audience is tweens and kids, reaching #1 on Radio Disney is quite an accomplishment. It’s a step in the right direction for Cody, and helps him establish a track record with fans, as he continued to grow his potential of becoming a star. Despite that accomplishment, one element was still missing. Cody had yet to find a song with enough strength that would allow him to have enough universal appeal to turn him from a viral YouTube video hit, into a Pop radio staple. That effort to crossover came with the release of his April 2011 single “On My Mind.” The song was the first single from his second EP, Coast To Coast released by Atlantic Records in September of 2011. The song served as a milestone in many ways. It was the first of many that allowed listeners to hear how much Cody had grown up between EPs. While he was still very young, it was easy to hear how much his voice showed the beginnings of maturity, and growing up meant being able to take on a higher quality of Pop music subject matter. Fan’s strong reaction to the release of “On My Mind” proved that whether you are a teen idol, rapper, or singer/songwriter, it all comes down to the power of the song at the end of the day
“On My Mind”
From Coast To Coast EP
The song was written by Julie Frost, Fraser T. Smith, Mike Caren and Nasri of the production group, The Messengers. All of these composers have become known for the work they have done with older and more mature artists, which was great for Cody as he just started to bridge the gap with this song at the time of its release.
Frost has contributed to songs by the likes of Pitbull, Beyonce Knowles, Dia Frampton and others. Smith has co-written/produced for the likes of Adele , James Morrison, Keane and many others. Nasri of The Messengers has made a career of taking artists who have lived in the Teen Pop genre and lifting them up by adding a layer of depth to their sound. Some of the best examples of this are found on New Kids On The Block’s reunion album, The Block, as well as “Next 2 You” by Chris Brown featuring Justin Bieber, along with various key singles on all of Bieber’s albums. Some of Those key tracks include “Never Say Never”, “Pray”, “As Long As You Love Me”, “All Around The World,” and others. Putting Cody with this team of writers was what was needed to highlight his talents in a way that allowed him to go beyond Radio Disney and fit within the parameters of various Pop radio playlists for different music directors across the country. “On My Mind” was finally Cody’s first single to break through the top 40 on the Pop singles charts.
Key Songs Composed With Julie Frost
Black Eyed Peas
“Just Can’t Get Enough”
From The Beginning
Will I Am Music Group/Interscope Records
Dia Frampton Featuring Kid Cudi
“Don’t Kick The Chair”
Universal Republic Records
Key Compositions/Productions With Fraser T. Smith
“Set Fire To The Rain”
James Morrison Featuring Nelly Furtado
From Songs For You, Truths For Me
“Stop For A Minute”
From Night Train EP
Key Teen Pop Productions By The Messengers
New Kids On The Block
From The Block
Chris Brown Featuring Justin Bieber
“Next 2 You”
Justin Bieber Featuring Jaden Smith
“Never Say Never”
From Karate Kid (2010)
Overbrook Entertainment/JW Productions/Columbia Pictures/Island Def Jam Music Group
Justin Bieber Featuring Big Sean
“As Long As You Love Me”
Justin Bieber Featuring Ludacris
“All Around The World”
“On My Mind” was quickly followed up by the ballad “Not Just You”, which this time was completely written and produced by The Messengers. Just as they have done so many times before, it is with that song that The Messengers helped Cody reinvent himself one step further, as he became a real contender in today’s Teen Pop world, with the likes of Justin Bieber and One Direction now beginning to see him as one of their peers. Plus, if Cody teaming up with The Messengers on Coast To Coast, after their extensive work with Justin Bieber seems like a coincidence, it’s not. Around the time of the making of the Coast To Coast EP, Cody was given a boost from someone who was keeping an eye on his progress. That person was music mogul and entrepreneur, Scott “Scooter” Braun. Braun is widely known in the industry as the man who helped foster the talents of chart topping artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, The Wanted, and his most famous client/discovery, Justin Bieber. Braun was called upon by Atlantic Records to step in and lend a hand to Cody’s manager/executive producer, Shawn Campbell. Together, Braun and Campbell worked side by side when shaping Cody’s current image and sound as a growing teen heartthrob.
disneydreaming.com quoted Cody as saying this about his relationship with Scooter Braun:
“It’s a real recent thing. With Scooter, we’re working on making myself an individual, making myself my own artist. You know I don’t want to be in anyone’s shadow. I’m a big fan of Justin’s, he supports a lot of what I do also. But everyone wants to be their own artist, have their own style of music, their own sound and their own image. And that’s what I’m definitely working on in 2012. And you’ll definitely see a lot more, we have some big plans for next year with my first full album coming out and a tour and everything. It’s gonna be real cool, but it’s all in the family.”
“Not Just You”
From Coast To Coast EP
As Shawn Campbell and Scooter Braun moved forward working together on Cody’s projects, they made a conscious effort to show that even though Cody Simpson and Justin Bieber are both YouTube stars turned into teen idols, musically they are two very different people. Justin has grown into somewhat of a rhythmic R&B/Pop artist who collaborates with Urban artists like Nicki Minaj and Drake. In many ways, Cody has gone into the exact opposite direction, proving himself further as an individual. This is noticed particularly on his latest EP, Preview To Paradise. Even though he originally struggled to find his role in the digital market place, it seems like Cody has grown very comfortable becoming more of Teen Pop’s answer to a singer/song writer genre with a laid back tone similar to a young Jason Mraz. Even though both Justin and Cody have the ability to play the guitar, Cody seems to have made it a more vital part of his sound as an artist.
At the listening party for Preview to Paradise in May 2012, Cody told those in attendance what to expect on the EP. Cody explained that he wishes to incorporate his Australian background and keep the music relaxing, but still fresh. His current single to release off the EP is “Got Me Good” and it delivers just that. It’s a summer acoustic song that makes you want to hang out, have a party, and not worry about anything if it’s not in the present. Cody reinforces his new sound with tracks that trademark him as an artist found on both EP’s Coast to Coast and Preview to Paradise, such as “Angel”, “Gentleman”, and even “So Listen” featuring T-Pain as well.
From Coast To Coast EP
“Got Me Good”
From Preview To Paradise EP
Cody Simpson Featuring T-Pain
From Preview To Paradise
From Preview To Paradise EP
Each new step forward shows the growth for the now 15 year old singer who seems to have found himself after years of development. He finally is gearing up for the release of his first full length album with Atlantic after 3 EPs. Cody has announced that the album will be released on October 2, 2012. It keeps up with Cody’s intended relaxed and fresh vibe, appropriately called, Paradise. From that new album is his new forthcoming single, “Wish You Were Here,” featuring a solo by rapper Becky G. It has been serviced to Pop radio outlets, and is expected to have an impact in the near future.
Cody Simpson Featuring Becky G
“Wish You Were Here”
Cody is evolving as an artist and with the new album Paradise, he hopes to stand on his own with guitar in hand and show the world that while he shares a manager with Justin Bieber, he isn’t a Bieber clone. His name is Cody Simpson, thank you very much.
. With over 3 million followers on Twitter, 3 million likes on Facebook, 125 million views on YouTube, Cody and his team have broken pieces of the wall in places and they can now see through to the other side, but they’re not through yet. Right now, Simpson is currently on tour with Big Time Rush and the tour ends September 18, 2012. Will the young singer step from the shadows and shine or will his spotlight fade to black? Only time will tell, but we certainly look forward to seeing him more! Keep up the good work Cody!