Artist Spotlight: R5
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Artist Spotlight: R5

What works and what doesn't for the pop-rock band from Colorado.

Artist Spotlight: R5
Las Vegas Sun

I want to start a new series of articles based around my favorite bands and singers not only for the sake of getting them recognition, but for the sake of educating about the music industry and different reasons bands might have higher or lower popularity. To begin this series, I will start with one of my all-time favorites: R5. Here’s a synopsis of their career so far (I wanted to make it short, but all of it will be important in my explanations later on.)

R5 is a pop/rock band based in Los Angeles, California. The members consist of Ross Lynch (vocalist/rhythm guitar), Rocky Lynch (lead guitar/vocals), Riker Lynch (bass guitar/vocals), Rydel Lynch (keyboard/vocals), and Ellington Ratliff (drums/vocals.) The Lynch siblings grew up with their parents and little brother, Ryland, in Littleton, Colorado, moving to LA in 2009 to follow Riker’s acting career. The three brothers began to teach themselves guitar, soon forming a band with their sister, who had taken piano lessons as a child. After meeting their friend, Ellington Ratliff, in a dance class, R5 was formed and soon self-released their EP “Ready, Set, Rock” in March 2010.

Between this time and their signing to Hollywood Records in April 2012, Ross Lynch had booked an acting job to play Austin Moon on Disney Channel’s “Austin & Ally”. With Ross’ success on the show, the band grew in recognition of kids and young teens who watched Disney Channel. Their EP release of “Loud” was plugged by Disney on both TV and radio. They had a few short tours throughout the year in small club venues and released their debut album September 2013 titled "Louder." In interviews, R5 have mentioned The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, McFly, Walk The Moon, Michael Jackson, and The Killers as a few of their musical influences. Depending on the time of their musical releases, the influences mentioned at the time have had a big impact on their EPs/albums.

Eventually, the band’s venue sizes increased, but the size of crowds remained stagnant. They still had a tie with Disney, although their music videos frequented less on Disney Channel. The band has always had trouble separating themselves from Ross’ “Austin & Ally” fanbase, but with their music maturing, R5 has made it clear what direction they want to head in. They released their third EP, “Heart Made Up On You,” in July 2014. By this time, Ross had another big acting role for a Disney Channel Original Movie, “Teen Beach Movie” playing Brady, the main character. They continued on tours around America and Europe and even hit up Japan during this time. With another tour already on the road, the band released their most current album, "Sometime Last Night," in July 2015. They are currently on a break, but have been working on music in their free time.

OK, so this band has already done a lot musically, as you just read. They have a dedicated fanbase, who support every song, tour, and piece of merch they release. But still, they haven’t had a hit on the radio. Why is that? Well, for starters, the standout is their tie with the Disney Corporation. Don’t get me wrong – I love Disney with all my heart! But for a band that’s trying to make with big names like Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift, it’s hard to get a track that really stands above the rest of similar sounding pop songs. Pop music in itself is a carefully structured formula of finding the right beats, melodies, and lyrics to appeal to the majority of young adults who listen to Top 40 stations or stream the top hits from iTunes or Spotify. Since they’re signed with Hollywood Records (Disney’s record label,) they have a less likely chance of being able to explore with lyrics and unconventional sounds. Granted, they’ve done a great job of making appealing music with what they have available.

Another thing that stands out beside their chance to explore with their music and break out is their fanbase. The fans range in age from 5 to 35, which is one reason their chances to explore are so dismal. The younger fans come from “Austin & Ally” and “Teen Beach Movie,” having followed Ross to his band outside of the show. I came from that group as well, so it’s not a bad thing at all; it’s just facts that their chances of making it past only Radio Disney to the KISS stations is less likely than if they had no ties to the kids’ station. The band themselves love the opportunity to work with Disney, but it’s so obvious now that they want to mature in their sound from their latest album (which I highly recommend!)

Likewise, their crowd size at gigs hasn’t changed much since their 2014 tours. I had seen the band play at a venue called Bank of NH Pavilion (also known as Meadowbrook) in 2015. It’s a little smaller than the size of an arena, but there were still a handful of open seats at the show. They were still playing at the House of Blues in Boston, being their third time at that venue. The size of HOB is about what they can sell out – but not much over that. Meadowbrook was too big for their fanbase, especially in New Hampshire; unfortunately, they don’t cater to that many fans yet. So for now, they need to continue to try and expand their fanbase, but keep the venue sizing to club venues like House of Blues where they’re bound to fill the building with adoring fans.

To conclude, I want to explain why this band, although having minor setbacks, is still incredible and why you should give them a listen: Their music is incredible. It’s both a familiar feeling, but unique. The way they come together in the final mix is something they should truly be proud of. I get chills listening to their songs and go out of my way to really listen. Their personalities are also another great attribute. Each member is quirky, thoughtful, and caring both with each other and with their fans. Going to their meet and greets has proved this on multiple occasions for me (I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true.) The interaction between artist and followers are on a balanced scale. And their shows are something you just can’t miss out on. The performance is like something you’ve never seen before. They rely on live sounds heavily and prove their talent is more than a recording. If you get the chance to see R5, you won’t regret it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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