When Words Fail Clinton Kane, His Music Speaks: Emerging Artists Spotlight

Clinton Kane
Colin Black

Clinton Kane

Welcome to Emerging Artists Spotlight, the Billboard series where we highlight a musician who has recently made his or her debut on the Emerging Artists chart. Whether they are new to the industry, or have been around for a while but are just starting to have a chart impact, the intention is to showcase where they are here and now. This week’s pick is Clinton Kane, who debuted at No. 11 on the chart dated March 6 thanks to his breakthrough single "Chicken Tendies."

Martin Garrix found something special about Clinton Kane and wanted the world to hear his "crazy voice" on the Dutch DJ-producer's single "Drown," which reached No. 12 on the Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart in March 2020. Now, he's continuing to make waves with his poignant solo single "Chicken Tendies," which was released on Feb. 19.

The Filipino-Norwegian singer-songwriter grew up in Perth, Australia, but Kane relies on music as his main form of communicating his life story. His first solo single of 2021 opens up the wounds of his strained relationship with his religious mother, and he explained in a TikTok video about how he wrote the song "Chicken Tendies" not about food (he's actually more of a wing guy) but "about accepting things and relationships I can’t change."

The only thing he can control is how music comes to his rescue during panic attacks, when words can't adequately express the hurt and pain he's experiencing. And if anyone else feels the same way he does, then Kane believes his songs might be the right antidote for them, too.

"The first time I ever wrote a song was two years ago. I was in my house just minding my own business like a cute little boy when I had a panic attack out of nowhere. I had never had a panic attack before in my life, and for some reason I had the urge to pick up my guitar," the Columbia Records signee tells Billboard. "I started humming melodies out of nowhere and started mumbling words out and writing them down amidst having the panic attack. As soon as I finished writing the song, which is now called 'this is what anxiety feels like,' my panic attack left, and in that moment I knew that making music was the only thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life."

Clinton Kane’s “Chicken Tendies” | Watch Now!

"Chicken Tendies" debuted at No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100 with 5.5 million U.S. streams and 2,000 downloads sold in its first week of release, according to MRC Data. The song marks his first appearance on the Hot 100 and second-ever appearance on a Billboard chart following "Drown."

"Growing up, I would feel a lot from everything happening around me, but I could never really put my feelings into words or understand what they were until songwriting came along. Writing is so real to me. It reaches the depths of my heart that I could never understand or even know I felt," Kane continues. "There’s a phase in hurt and pain where you need to just sit down and scream out your feelings. I could never pinpoint what it was that I was feeling growing up, and all I wanted was to listen to a song and be like: 'This is it. This is exactly what I’m feeling right now.' My only hope is that I’m able to be that person for anyone who listens to my music so that they don't feel alone in this world."

Learn more about Kane below.

Age: 21

Recommended Clinton Kane track: "Chicken Tendies"

Outside of the music: "This hasn't just been a concern of mine lately, it’s really been one my whole life; growing up as a kid I could never understand why I would get so angry seeing scenes in movies of this happening or hearing about it in real life, but my heart breaks for women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted in any sort of way. The fact that women have to worry about things they shouldn't need to worry about in a setting with men infuriates me. My heart literally breaks for anyone who's experienced this and I wish I could do something to change it in a larger scale, but all I can do is continuously talk about it and spread awareness."

What’s next: "Time for an album!"

Past Emerging Artists Spotlights: Babyface Ray | Sara Kay | Langhorne Slim | Bicep | Asiahn | Morray | Benee | Breland | (Sandy) Alex G | Charly Bliss | Tank and the Bangas | J.S. Ondara | Mabel | Kiana Lede | Joshua Bassett