Three days before rising singer-songwriter d4vd (pronounced “David”) released the dark, grungy ballad “Romantic Homicide,” he went to sit in his bedroom closet. He had hated previous versions of the track, but wasn’t willing to give up on using the song to share how one feels post-breakup. “I literally just said, ‘I’m scared,’ ” says d4vd, referencing the song’s opening line. “All the words spiraled out subconsciously. I was like, ‘Yo, I got to write this down.’ Emotions were everywhere.”
The 17-year-old Houston native, born David Burke, stumbled into music last November. An avid gamer who became obsessed with Fortnite when he was 12, he would often make gameplay montages set to popular songs, but after getting flagged for copyright infringement twice, he decided to make original music to soundtrack his clips. “I’ve been writing poems forever, but vocalizing? I didn’t even think I had a good enough voice,” he says.
This July, he independently released the love-soaked track “Here With Me.” But “Romantic Homicide” marked his breakthrough moment — and led to a record deal with Darkroom/Interscope Records in August. The artist’s evocative chronicling of “the death of love” — killing the romanticized memory of a past relationship — immediately struck a chord. “My mom’s going to hate me for saying this, but anybody could have made ‘Romantic Homicide,’ ” he says. “As stripped-down as the vocal production is, anybody can speak their mind. It resonates with so many people because of the emotions in the lyrics.”
The song’s viral success on TikTok was followed by the September release of the Tommy Killjoy-directed music video, which depicts a blindfolded d4vd in a thunderstorm and has 1.8 million YouTube views. “Romantic Homicide” became d4vd’s first charting single, entering the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 77 and jumping to No. 45 the following week, and it has since cracked the top 10 on the Hot Alternative Songs, Hot Rock Songs and Hot Rock & Alternative Songs charts. But d4vd’s validation has come elsewhere: “Three weeks into release, I’m going through my DM requests, and somebody said this song prevented him from committing suicide,” he says. “That’s when I knew this song is doing something for people, not to people.”