YUNGBLUD: Pop-Punk Misfit Ready To Change The World
It’s hard not to notice 22-year-old Dominic Harrison (aka YUNGBLUD). He occupies space wherever he goes, whether that’s straight to the charts or simply just walking down the street. He’s fantastically loud in a world that chooses to stay quiet and glimmers in a shiny, artistic aesthetic that has you wishing you could replicate it, but you just know you wouldn’t even make it look half as cool. He’s a refreshingly new role model for the youth that don’t feel heard, and they look to him as their leader walking them into battle.
Whether it’s gun laws, corporate exploitation, mental illness, or parents just being a general bore, Harrison tackles it all without a challenge. He’s looking to create a brighter future for those who are left to clean up the mess previous generations made, and he doesn’t want anything standing in his way. Here’s everything you need to know about the star that’s changing the world.
Born in Doncaster, England in 1997, Harrison jumped right into a love for music. His father owned a guitar store and his grandfather performed with British rock band T. Rex in the 70s. He recalls pretending to be Freddie Mercury in his bedroom at aged 11, prancing around with all the same flamboyancy and rock star attitude. It was that influence that saw Harrison experiment with his fashion. He looked for ways to bend the masculine stereotypes, asking his mum to straighten his hair and let him wear lipstick and nail polish, which didn’t go down well with most people at his high school.
The trouble to fit in followed him right to London’s Arts Educational School, where he studied music to better craft his talent. He tried to imitate his favourite outspoken artists, such as My Chemical Romance and N.W.A, but a manager found him and said that if Harrison really wanted to make money, he’d leave the political stuff behind. It wasn’t until Harrison found himself singing acoustic pop, with no meaning, and being asked to compete in the popular singing show The Voice that he realised he didn’t want any part of that world. Instead, he’d build his own.
In 2017, Harrison released his first track under the guise of YUNGBLUD; a rocker in pink socks and safety pins that represented who Harrison truly was. ‘King Charles’ acted as a protest song for the disenfranchised and came after King Charles I of England and his tyranny. It was a startling debut, and certainly went against everything Harrison had been told to do in the music world, but it found him plenty of fans who all related to his rawness. The tracks that followed (to be put out on his debut self-titled EP) all kept the same theme. ‘I Love You, Will You Marry Me’ told the heartbreaking meaning behind the graffiti of the same name in Doncaster, ‘Tin Pan Boy’ used the 2017 construction of musical hotspot Tin Pan Alley as inspiration to poke at the music industry and spoilt rich kids, ‘Polygraph Eyes’ brought attention to the creepiness of ‘lad culture’ and the sexual harassment of women and ‘Anarchist’ basically summed up everything the star was all about.
It was clear that Harrison had found his place in the world being a beacon of hope for the youth just like him, and it was garnering him more fame (and definitely happiness) than he had when he confined himself to someone else’s terms and tried out acoustic pop. He took inspiration from the British alt rockers he grew up with (Arctic Monkeys, The Clash, Oasis) and essentially brought pop-punk back to life. In 2018 he dropped his debut album 21stCentury Liability, a nice little compilation of the tracks from his first EP and some new ones. Among the new ones were ‘Machine Gun (F**k The NRA)’, a track quite literal to the title, and several tracks surrounding Harrison’s own history with drugs and mental illness (he was diagnosed with ADHD when he was young and put on Ritalin).
In 2019, YUNGBLUD dropped the nostalgic 2000s pop-punk hit ’11 Minutes’ with Halsey and pop-punk veteran Travis Barker (of Blink 182), and it essentially propelled him into a bigger wave of limelight (not to mention the attention he was getting from dating Halsey). He dropped a few more singles, ‘Loner,’ a quintessential British punk track, ‘Parents’, a fight back at the older generation and ‘original me’ with Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds. He also jumped on Machine Gun Kelly’s ‘I Think I’m OKAY,’ reuniting with Travis Barker. Later on in the year, YUNGBLUD officially released the ep the underrated youth and it remained to be a message to Gen Zers to keep fighting.
Now, in 2020, Harrison isn’t showing any signs of slowing YUNGBLUD down. He’s joined Marshmello and blackbear on EDM single ‘Tongue Tied’ and just recently dropped ‘Weird!’, a new sound that sees the star stepping into synth-pop. He’s been busy working on his new album, working a YouTube series that lets fans stay updated with him during lockdown, and protesting Black Lives Matter in California for days on end. At only 22, Harrison has still got a long way to go. And he plans on putting every single second to good use.
Originally published at https://umusic.co.nz on June 14, 2020.