In the world of pop music, there are incredibly talented singers that are incredibly successful – think Taylor Swift. There are also singers with incredibly talented producers that are incredibly successful – think Rihanna. Lastly there are incredibly talented singers that are, for some mysterious reason, not incredibly successful – like Karmin.
In case you have never heard of Karmin, here is a little introduction to the dynamic duo: Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan met in college and first became a couple, before becoming a YouTube sensation. With a career somewhat characteristic of pop music in the 21st century, they initially started making cover music videos, with Amy singing and playing the guitar and Nick playing various instruments.
Their career eventually took off when they covered Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Busta Rhymes’s hit ‘Look At Me Now’, and Amy started rapping in addition to singing. Soon afterwards, they signed a deal with Epic Records and stepped into the spotlight with their first EP (Extended Play) Hello and their first – and up to now only – top-twenty chart hit ‘Brokenhearted’ in 2012. A full-length album called Pulses followed in 2014, but did not match the success of their major label debut, Hello. The three singles of the album that were released were also not as successful. This led to the band parting ways with Epic Records and disappearing from the charts as quickly as they had conquered them less than two years prior.
Now, in 2015, they are working on their second full-length studio album Leo Rising and continue to release singles and music videos, although they are doing so on a smaller scale and within a tighter budget than during the Hello and Pulses eras. It seems that Karmin have somehow missed their chance to become superstars – a chance most musicians only get once in their lifetime in this hectic and cruel music industry of the 21st century. The question is, what did they do wrong?
The straightforward answer would be that ‘Brokenhearted’ – a top-twenty hit in the US and top-ten hit in the UK, New Zealand and Australia – was simply their only good original song. Most Karmin tracks are better than ‘Brokenhearted’, though – the follow-up single ‘Hello’, for instance, hinted at the possibility of the band becoming a one-hit-wonder when the song stalled at #62 on the US charts. Co-written by Amy, Nick and pop music behemoth Claude Kelly, ‘Hello’ is, in my opinion, one of the best synthpop/hip-hop hybrids you will ever hear and has all the ingredients of a massive hit – but it still failed to land. Neither was ‘Acapella’, the fun lead single of Pulses and likely Karmin’s last chance at becoming international superstars. The fantastic next single ‘I Want It All’, that saw Karmin jumping on the 2014-disco-bandwagon, did not even break into the US Billboard Hot 100 10.
The truth is that Karmin write amazing songs. They write their material themselves in contrast to other artists, who often rely on much worse Sia-penned metaphor-disasters to achieve success. Amy and Nick are a likeable couple and look just like major labels want their acts to look.
So, what is the problem?
The answer is that there is probably no real answer. Karmin should be superstars – they have got all it takes, today, to be pop music superstars. Their case proves that like so many others, the music industry works in mysterious ways. All we, and Karmin’s fans, can do is wait for a miracle and cling on to the hope that Karmin’s upcoming album Leo Rising – which is set to include the brilliant songs ‘Along The Road’, ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Maybelline’ – will be a worldwide hit. Given the trajectory of the duo’s last few works this may seem unlikely, leaving us wondering what went wrong, and whether Amy and Nick actually want to be superstars.