Back in April, Greyson Chance was just another Oklahoma sixth grader — but then he posted a clip of himself performing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” on YouTube. The video, in which the tween transformed the song into a wrenching ballad while accompanying himself on piano, exploded online, resulting in laurels from the Mother Monster herself and him signing a major-label deal with Geffen Records.
Thursday night in New York, Chance put his chops on display at Joe’s Pub, performing a four-song set evenly split between covers and his own material. He possessed a charm way beyond his 13 years, giving props to those members of the audience he’d met during his brief press trip to the Big Apple and explaining his decision to teach himself “Empire State of Mind”: “We’re in New York — we have to do the state song.”
Chance has an infectious charisma and a windswept mop-top, as well as some excellent skills on the piano. He kicked things off with his now-trademark cover of “Paparazzi,” but showed his range with his take on “Fire” by the pop-rock act Augustana. Chance barreled through that song’s “fire”/”desire” rhyme scheme successfully enough to seem like a perfectly calibrated blend of Justin Timberlake and Tori Amos, with his pop-heartthrob charm balanced almost equally by his intensity.
He closed out the set with his new single “Waiting Outside the Lines,” which combines the slow burn of Jordin Sparks’ debut single “Tattoo” with the steady beat of Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone.” For that track, he was joined by a band, and at one point he hopped away from the piano to try out his frontman skills.
Chance is currently working on his debut album, and getting songwriting assists from the likes of The Matrix (Jason Mraz, Avril Lavigne) and Danielle Brisebois (Kylie Minogue, New Radicals). “The record is coming along great — the music is sounding really good,” Chance told Rolling Stone before the set. “It’s kind of like a Snow Patrol/Coldplay type of sound.” Although don’t be surprised if there’s a bit of a retro-soul influence, too; he’s been listening to Amy Winehouse a lot lately. “Back to Black is on repeat,” he said. “It’s incredible — she has such an amazing voice.”
Chance has been making press appearances and prepping for the release of the new disc — a physical single for “Waiting Outside the Lines” will be released in Walmart on December 14. (Listen to the song below.) On Friday, though, he’s set aside time for a screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. After all, a kid’s got to get to the movies every now and again.
Greyson Chance [Official site]