MKTO is the amalgamation of two LA actors who happen to have music talent. They can probably dance too, regular Timberlake triple threats I bet. Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller – yep, that’s where ‘MKTO’ is derived – were on the former American comedy-drama series Gigantic, before deciding to combine their musical abilities. Before that, the younger version of MK was little Walt Lloyd on the massive TV series Lost.
The boys emerged out of the wilderness – and elaborated on the meaning of their name – with their first single release Thank You in January 2013, a shout out to the ‘Misfit Kids and Total Outcasts’; the type of kids they felt they were in school. Their following singles Classic and God Only Knows displayed the strong intentions of their hip-hop-meets-pop partnership, and their latest release American Dream joins these previous tracks in the same realm, as the latest single off their self-titled inaugural album.
American Dream opens with the words “do something with your life”, like your dad is yelling at you, ringing in your ears until a melancholic piano riff intro plays beneath Oller’s rangy voice. The verse is busted open with Kelley’s confident rap style bringing his side of the fusion. Characteristic hip-hop percussion takes the instrumental fore, with the piano riff and faint synths giving it overall depth.
In prior track Classic, the lads display a fondness for referencing ‘classic’ songs and artists, likening the subject female to enduring legends like Michael Jackson, Prince and Marvin Gaye. They continue this theme in American Dream with nods to Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run and John Mellencamp’s ditty Jack & Diane. Somewhere amongst it all is a message about the underdog taking a shot and coming out on top, especially in love.
MKTO have proven to be an instant success with young listeners, reflected in both the pop charts and with Classic up for the title of Catchiest New Song at the Radio Disney Music Awards. American Dream is equally as likable, with a captivating hook and choral melody driven by massive pop sensibilities and their own excellent song writing skills. They’re tapping into the rap/pop market the likes of Flo Rida and Pitbull have occupied, however bearing subject matter much more about real life than the typical hip-hop machismo. American Dream is a belter; if it was released earlier MKTO might well have been up against themselves in vying for the tag of ‘catchiest song’.