Making a hit song is relatively difficult for any artist — and it’s almost impossible to do it on your first try. Remarkably, R&B rookie Peter Manos has accomplished both on “In My Head.”
Manos’ debut single is slow and wistful. The sparse beat pulsates like a heartbeat, buoying his vocals to the center. Soft, lilting and somber, his voice teases a crescendo that only comes when he sings, “You’re in my head/And I keep on forgettin'” in a high coo. The result is a claustrophobic song on the border of pop and R&B, with the chorus offering only a brief reprieve before listeners are submerged again. In a world largely ruled by speedy trap tempos, “In My Head” proves that ballads can still surprise.
The singer, who’s originally from Dallas, recorded “In My Head” while a student at Nashville’s Belmont University. “My friend I made it with was like, ‘All right, man, remember, people’s first songs don’t usually do anything,’” Manos tells RS, lounging in the booth of a New York restaurant. “I’m like, ‘Okay.’ But I remember I told my mom, ‘Oh my god, I want to get a million streams somehow.’”
Now the song he created with his friend in a dorm room has over 100 million streams. “In My Head” was first released in the latter half of 2017 before a re-release on major streaming services in 2018; it didn’t see an official music video featuring its artist’s face until January of this year. To many listeners, Manos remains an unknown, even if his voice is not.
According to Manos, the song’s popularity was “super-organic” at first. “It wasn’t on any playlist,” he says. “It picked up some really subtle momentum.” A partnership with digital distribution company Human Re-Sources, which has also helped Pink Sweat$ rack up huge streaming numbers with “Honesty,” helped boost the song. Today you can find “In My Head” on playlists like Spotify’s “Today’s Top Hits,” after succeeding in “Pop Rising.”
Manos’ more recent songs have only gotten weirder, to his credit. The slow tempo is intact, but he’s testing the boundaries of his voice. On “Out of Love” he twists his vocals into a croak, while “You Don’t Know” heavily features his falsetto. Manos is honest about his nervousness as he tries to match his first hit, but he tempers it with optimism. “I think I should be a little nervous, you know?” he says. “It matters to me. Doing all this has been a dream. It’s something I’ve wanted for a lot longer than it’s actually been happening.”