By Brittany Banks
YouTube Space LA (The Hollywood Times) 3/26/2015 – “Everything’s connected to social media, so it would be SO weird [if it didn’t exist]! I’m not even going to think about it,” 12-year-old YouTube sensation Skylar Stecker decided. The brunette beauty discovered her voice at the age of nine, when she entered a talent show to play the piano and was persuaded to sing. Reluctant and afraid, she acquiesced. “It clicked and I just knew that that’s what I wanted to do forever.”
YouTube Music Night is part of the “On the Road to the RDMAs” Tour. The actual Radio Disney Music Awards will be held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on April 25, 2015. Last night’s event featured performances by Skylar Stecker, Sweet Suspense, Kenny Holland, and Jack & Jack, alongside headliner Megan Nicole.
Stecker’s first EP, Firecracker, was released in January. She opened with the song of the same title, overflowing with energy! Her dancing was flawless, she was supremely confident and, dare I say, sexy. I felt as though I was beholding a professional performer in her element, as opposed to a child who was born during this millennium! Stecker attributes her ability to “let loose and just be myself” to Beyoncé – her dream duet partner and the first artist she ever watched live in concert.
Stecker made eye contact with the audience during her emotive and relatable tune, “Hey.” She is wise beyond her years, and the power of her high notes renders the fact that she’s 12 virtually unfathomable. (Okay, I’ll drop it now).
Her biggest hit, “Rooftop,” has garnered nearly three million views on YouTube. Skylar Stecker is one to watch!
Kenny Holland’s passionate performance won me over, as well. The 19-year-old seemingly humble heartthrob recognizes that “social media is changing the world” and acknowledges that without it, he probably wouldn’t have made it this far. His first single, “So What,” was released when he was 16. However, Internet or not, “I’m a musician. I would still be grinding, that’s for sure.” (“Grinding” = teenage slang for working feverishly. I think.)
His inspirational song, “Don’t Let Go,” is about pursuing his dream. The incorporation of rap did not diminish its poignant effect. Holland has more depth than one might give him (and his good looks) credit for.
Musically, he has been compared to Ed Sheeran, which he deems “an honor.” They both utilize a loop pedal, and Holland says they share “a low-key, acoustic sound.”
In terms of appearance, Holland gets told that he resembles The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson. “I think it’s the butt-chin,” Holland laughs. (I refrained from notifying him that I sensed more of a Justin Bieber vibe…).
If the name Sweet Suspense sounds familiar, it’s because the trio was mentored by Simon Cowell on The X Factor in 2013. Millie, now 15, Celine, 17, and Summer, 18, initially auditioned individually and were eliminated from the singing competition, only to be brought back as a group.
Despite only making it to the Top 12, “X Factor put us together. That’s the best gift that I could have been given,” Celine gushed. “I got two sisters out of it.”
There’s no denying that the girls are a force to be reckoned with. On X Factor, when Celine experienced “the WORST stage fright,” her teammates comforted her. Their distinct personalities complement each other seamlessly. “I laugh at Celine’s jokes even if they’re not funny because I love her,” Millie confesses.
Summer “is very sassy, but in the humblest way possible,” Millie praises. “We call her Momma Summer. She’s very motherly and she knows the best times to be a big sister, a friend, and a Mom.”
Blonde bombshell Millie, rocking a black leather outfit, is “our little firecracker,” her partners agree. “She’s the thuggest one, for lack of a better word.” Depending on the day, she can also be “really poised and princess-esque.”
The girls’ strength – inseparability – is also their downfall. Millie avows that as deeply as they love each other, “we’re together so much that we can get on each other’s nerves. But we’ve gotten to a nice place where we know when to spread out and then come back together.”
Sweet Suspense’s performance was a sight for sore eyes. “Like A Girl” revolves around the notion of girl power, while the catchy “Here We Go Again” deals with break-ups. The empowering lyrics provided a refreshing distinction from the abundance of boy-crazy desperation in today’s music industry. “I hope you got the message I left for you / Signed xoxo, we are through.”
The main event, Megan Nicole, performed four songs. Her guitar accompanied her for her hit, “Escape.” Its “enchanted and magical” music video, which dropped mere days ago, “plays with the whole fairytale experience” by including a bear, wolves, bunnies, and a snake.
“Summer Forever” was composed harmoniously with her first acting gig: the movie begins filming next week.
With regards to the prospect of being a role model to her impressionable fans: “I just try to be the best influence I can. I always try to instill it in them to be positive and to find their passions and to go after what they love. But at the end of the day, I am a human being.”
In Megan Nicole’s website’s biography, she writes, “I never would’ve guessed in a million years that YouTube would become the platform for me to share my music with the world.” But is has. She boasts upwards of three million YouTube subscribers.
In light of this social media celebration, YouTube/Vine superstar Brent Rivera, who co-hosted the show, bestowed his wisdom upon us. “The most important thing is consistency and being yourself. Make videos the way you want them to be, and if you say you’ll post a video every week, make sure that you post a video every week.”
Holland emphasizes that the key is “finding something that makes you original and unique from everyone else.”
However, that’s easier said than done. I believe that the recipe for online success is equal parts talent and luck. Nonetheless, there was something so indefinably special about speaking with and observing these young people whose careers are just beginning to blossom. I couldn’t rid myself of this nagging feeling…the hope that fame doesn’t get the best of them.
** Fun Fact #1 **
** Fun Fact #2 **
Pop/rap duo Jack & Jack, consisting of Jack Gilinsky, 18, and Jack Johnson, 19, met on the first day of kindergarten while both wearing the same shirt. They’ve been united ever since.