Less than a year ago, Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan posted a video of the two of them performing Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now.”
That video set the Internet ablaze — the “Look At Me” has racked up over 56 million views — and the cult of Karmin began to build. The rest of the narrative goes like this: More videos (both covers and original tunes), a handful of high-profile performances (including an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show), a record contract, and a booking on this weekend’s edition of Saturday Night Live. For many, this will be the first time they’ll hear the group’s original songs.
“We’ve been working with some of the top producers of the world,” Heidemann told EW, of their upcoming debut Hello, due April. “We recorded close to 50 songs, so we’re trying to get that list down to album size.”
One of those songs, the second single “Brokenhearted,” was co-written by Claude Kelly, the hitmaker who has contributed to such tunes as Bruno Mars’ “Grenade,” Jessie J’s “Price Tag,” and Adam Lambert’s “Better Than I Know Myself.” Though he only started working with the duo a few months ago, their paths have run parallel for a while. “We all went to Berklee College of Music but graduated in different years,” Kelly told EW. “I actually found out about them because they covered ‘Grenade,’ and somebody sent it to me on Twitter. Then later L.A. Reid told me he wanted me to meet them. And I walked into the office and couldn’t believe it was the same kids from Berklee and YouTube.”
The goals for “Brokenhearted,” which was the first song Kelly worked on with Heidemann and Noonan, were multi-pronged. “I had the melody down, and I kept feeling I wanted a song that had the vibe of ‘Fantasy’ by Mariah Carey,” he explained. “There hasn’t been a song like that in a million years, one that’s fun and you want to dance to it at a party but it’s not so serious that you can’t have a good time. And Amy can sing her ass off, so I knew she could do it.”
“We did eight songs in nine days,” Kelly says. “That’s a lot by any standard, and definitely a lot for me.” And though there have been some doubts about the group’s ability to translate their YouTube success into real-world victories, Kelly was always on board. “A lot of other people were skeptical,” he said. “I knew they could work because I knew they were talented, but there’s a lot of skepticism about artists who come from YouTube or from the Internet, because there’s this feeling that they don’t have star quality.”
“But that’s bulls—,” he insisted. “I think the industry has completely shifted, and that’s a real old-school mindset. Artists aren’t being discovered in night clubs or at talent shows in churches anymore. They’re taking their future in their own hands and putting their talent out there for the world to see and getting signed. I went in there optimistic they were going to deliver the same way they did in the videos, and they did. [Amy]’s got the eye of the tiger. She’s f—ing good.”
She’ll get the chance to prove that tonight on Saturday Night Live, though the stakes don’t phase her or Noonan, apparently. “We’re not really nervous!” she told EW. As Noonan put it, “[SNL] is like our coming-out party.”
Readers, what do you think — will tonight’s performance bring them to the next level, or are they more clickable meme than main-stage band?
Read more on EW.com:
Zooey Deschanel gets quirky (well, quirkier) for ‘Saturday Night Live’promo — VIDEO
Karmin unleashes new single ‘Broken Hearted’ in time for their ‘Saturday Night Live’ performance
YouTube stars Karmin release first major-label single ‘Crash Your Party': Listen here