To garner attention and traction, most bands will begin singing live shows and work from there. This tends to lead to a record deal and then the release of singles, and finally, an EP or an album.
However, in contrast to the norm, London duo Oh Wonder began releasing one track each month starting last September without ever playing a live show. This sparked attention from the media and somehow the band managed to attract thousands of fans without promotion or publicity.
Each of the 12 tracks released every month went straight to number one on Soundcloud and, in combination with Spotify, they have been streamed over 25 million times. These spectacular feats have astonished the singers themselves as they watched themselves grow from recording in their home each month to releasing an album in early September.
The writing duo, Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, first called themselves Wonder Wonder, but decided they didn’t like the name. Josephine came up with Oh Wonder while in a taxi cab in London, and they have continuously dazzled the world with their emotional melodies and beats ever since.
The self-titled album contains fifteen unique-sounding songs that all have the Oh Wonder charm, which includes soft-spoken harmonies accompanied by a low-tempo electronic backdrop. The first song to be released that started Oh Wonder was “Body Gold,” which was actually written and produced on a laptop in Josephine’s living room in 2013, but they thought that releasing it would be too time-consuming and wanted to focus on other projects in the meantime. It was finally released last September after the duo decided to just go for it. The lyrics, “A love with no doubt, and now I’m never going to slow down” depict the high that a new love brings, and the songs continues as the two voices guide each other through the harmonies. The song was a success and hit number one on the Soundcloud charts, and Josephine and Anthony decided to give it another go the next month.
The next release, “Shark,” continued the newfound group’s success, as it went to number one on the Soundcloud charts once again. The song caught the attention of the public and the mainstream media. It was recently featured on MTV’s television show, “Scream,” along with other singles such as “Technicolour Beat.”
The soothing melody asks, “My wave, my shark, my demon in the dark. The blue tide pulling me under. Or are you my soul, my heart, pull everything apart? Are you gonna, are you gonna be my love?” The song explores a partner’s destructive love and pulling them down into darkness.
Other highlights of the album include “Drive,” which is one of the writing duo’s most popular songs. It is about the long drive after ending a relationship and the attempt to justify why it ended. “Cause loving you, loving you is too hard. All I do, all I do is not enough. Loving you, loving you, I cannot be loving you, loving you.” The music video for the song has over a quarter of a million views and was featured on major outlets such as BBC Radio 1 when it was released.
“White Blood” describes the hardships of going through or being there for somebody with cancer. White blood cells serve to protect the body from harm, and the song is a metaphor for being a positive and shielding force for anyone going through hardships, especially physical or mental illness. “Said you’d always be my white blood, elevate my soul above. Giving me your white blood, I need you right here with me.”
“All We Do” depicts couples as living to their fullest potential, instead of hiding away and playing it safe. The song was written on New Years’ Eve in about four minutes. Once inspired, the duo wanted to write about the possibilities that arrive with the start of a new year. “I’ve been upside down. I don’t wanna be the right be the right way round. Can’t find paradise on the ground.”
“Livewire” is the most powerful love song on the album. It describes partners giving each other the strength and energy to grow and blossom in a relationship. “Oh won’t you be my livewire? Make me feel like I’m set on fire. Your love will take me higher and higher. Oh won’t you be my livewire, my livewire?”
Other tracks that were released in the twelve-month period include “Lose it,” “Technicolour Beat,” “Dazzle,” “Landslide,” “The Rain” and “Midnight Moon.” Three additional songs are also featured on the album, “Heart Hope,” “Without You” and “Plans.”
The album debuted at number 26 in England’s OCC charts. It was number 80 on Billboard’s charts. The duo was ecstatic by the success of the album and are very excited to start touring. Oh Wonder played their first live show in early September and will be continuing their tour throughout Europe and North America through November. Almost every show is sold out and the duo has announced that there will be more shows in the new year.
Oh Wonder took big risks with their debut into the mainstream–an unlikely feat for previously unheard of artists. Bold beats and convention-thwarting ways of reaching audiences proved to be effective for the group.
While they have created an album worthy of artistic praise, the group has also made a bold statement about the modern music industry. “Oh Wonder” has proven that unconventional albums can work just as well as the norm–even for less mainstream artists. Surprise album drops aren’t just reserved for Beyoncé and other megastars. All that matters is having a beautiful song with a killer electro-pop beat.