Austin Mahone is an 18 year old pop singer who, like many others in the contemporary music scene, was discovered on Youtube. He posted covers from the likes of Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber, and a mass following began to grow; he currently has over 10 million fans on Facebook and over 420 million views on Youtube, accumulated in just three years. Despite this cult following, Mahone has only released two EP’s to date: the first simply titled Extended Play, and his recent release The Secret.
The Secret sees Mahone take a different direction from the usual pop music. His sound is a combination of N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys, mixed with contemporary electronic dance music and synth beats. The opening track, Till I Find You, demonstrates this instantly. With interesting literary references to Sherlock Holmes and Cinderella, the lyrics aren’t too bad and the song is ridiculously catchy. Next To You, Secret and Can’t Fight This Love follow the nostalgic boyband trend, but the production is often overdone and this detracts from Mahone’s great vocals. The lyrics leave much to be desired, featuring fairly superficial words with a lot of repetition. These tracks are all extremely catchy and you can’t help bopping along, but ultimately they all sound very similar.
Leading single from the EP was Mmm Yeah, with which Mahome teamed up with rapper Pitbull. This was probably a mistake. The song definitely sounds like another Pitbull track, Don’t Stop The Party. It doesn’t sound like it just a little bit; the underlying melody of Don’t Stop The Party is there the whole way through. While there is no denying the catchiness of this song, it becomes a Pitbull song with Mahone as a featured guest, rather than the other way around.
All I Ever Need changes things up with a slow pop/r & b vibe. But this just showcases that Mahone is probably better suited to generic pop. With most of the song lyrics being repeated, this track quickly becomes boring. The One I’ve Waited For starts out with a nice intro with just vocals and guitar, but is ruined by over production when the beat kicks. But Shadow (an acoustic version) provides exactly what this album needs. It shows that Mahone actually has fantastic vocals, and has the ability to emotionally connect to a song. The lyrical content may not be brilliant, but I feel it’s much better than most of the other tracks.
The final track What About Love keeps with the early 2000s boyband feel. I listened to it thinking, gee this sounds a lot like an N’Sync track, but I’m not sure what. Then suddenly, the lyrics state: “… The reason you said ‘bye, bye, bye'”. This reference MUST have been made on purpose, because the melody is almost exactly like the 2000 hit Bye Bye Bye. Whilst this gives the listener a lot of nostalgia, it’s probably not great that Mahone is practically stealing someone else’s melody.
Overall The Secret doesn’t really offer anything new. Whilst Austin Mahone took a different direction with his pop music, it all sounds quite similar to each other and the songs they are influenced by. The Secret will probably be a huge hit because of Mahone’s gigantic social media following, but he will have to work harder to try and win over new fans.