CMA Awards 2018
Pop Shop Podcast: Sabrina Carpenter & Jonas Blue on Meeting Via Twitter, Exploring 'Alien' Feelings for New Song
Welcome to the new episode of the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast, your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard's weekly charts. In addition, you can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop.
Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard co-director of charts Keith Caulfield and Billboard deputy editor, digital, Katie Atkinson, every week on the Pop Shop Podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in iTunes. (Click here to listen to the previous Tuesday’s edition of the show on Billboard.com).
Today on the show, we're joined by Sabrina Carpenter and Jonas Blue! The pop star and U.K. dance music producer have teamed up for the new song "Alien," and the collaboration all came together thanks to the A&R talents of Twitter.
"I’m just a huge fangirl of Jonas Blue," Carpenter told the Pop Shop team. "And I tweeted out over a year ago that I was obsessed with one of his songs, which is how I found him; I found him by listening to ‘By Your Side.’ Obviously, he’s had so many incredible songs before that and after that. He was so nice and he responded -- he DMed me and was like, 'I’m in LA if you want to get together and work together,' and I was like, 'Sure, yeah.' We worked together the first time in LA. But actually, we wrote 'Alien' in London when I was there on tour. He liked me, I guess, the first time around, so we got a second run at it."
As it turns out, Blue wasn't one of Carpenter's million-plus Twitter followers back then. "The crazy thing was -- it’s probably really bad of me -- but I didn’t know who Sabrina was, If I’m honest," Blue admitted. "So she messaged me, and all I was interested in was, 'How does your voice sound and do I feel like this could match what I do?' I’ve got a sound, and it’s no good me having a heavy metal artist sing one of my songs. But I heard Sabrina’s voice and I was like, 'Wow! This girl’s incredible!'"
But Carpenter didn't mind the anonymity: She was used to being boxed in by her early fame on Disney Channel's Girl Meets World, so she was over the moon to be recognized for her vocal talents alone. "For me, knowing that a lot of people sort of judge me on my past or my history or where I came from or the bunch of different projects that I started on, it’s actually almost nicer to find people that really find you with a fresh slate and really listen to me because of my voice and not because I did other things. I think that’s really cool."
Thanks to that extraterrestrial title, listeners might think the song is about UFOs or finding life on Mars, but in fact, it's a metaphor for those emotions you just can't explain. "People are always like, 'I don’t know If aliens are real or not,' and that’s how I feel about my feelings so much of the time: I don’t know if they’re real or not," Carpenter said. "I don’t know if they’re valid and I don’t know if I make sense to a lot of people when I describe my emotions and what I’m feeling. We tend to often keep a lot of things inside. I think the song is almost this inner-dialogue in a sense of what you wish you could say to this person. If this person would just talk to you and communicate with you, maybe you would understand each other better."
With that concept in mind, Blue sat down at the piano and started working out the sound. "The way it always starts with me making my music is I will never, ever start with the production first," he said. "It’s always me at the piano, fresh on the day. I never come with anything prepared."
Hear the finished product below:
Carpenter hasn't released an album since 2016's Evolution, but she says fans shouldn't expect her next project to sound just like "Alien." "I think ‘Alien’ is its own thing," she said. "I think that was how it was always intended to be. I think that because Jonas and I separately are very different artists, and I think that together, it should be something different from what we do solo. I think that was kind of the goal, at least for me. … I think everything we do, we should always be growing and trying new things and it should always be an evolution -- not to promote my album. It should always feel like something new. I’m always one to keep people on their toes."
Blue is currently touring Asia and Europe, and you can catch Carpenter playing the Billboard Hot 100 Fest in August.
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