An Indie Artist Covered Corinne Bailey Rae — and Scored a Record Deal
20-year-old Jack Rutter has an alter ego. The Salt Lake City native moonlights as Ritt Momney — a musical project that started out as an indie rock band with high-school friends, before its other members dispersed to follow Mormon missions. As a solo artist, Rutter turned inward to record a 13-song LP, Her and All of My Friends, which candidly examines melancholia and his own detachment from Mormon culture.
Rutter later released a reimagined version of Corinne Bailey Rae’s bubbly 2006 hit single “Put Your Records On” — which has taken off recently on TikTok. The track debuted at Number Six on Rolling Stone‘s Trending 25 chart this week, which ranks fastest-rising songs regardless of fame or genre. There, Rutter is sandwiched between Bring Me the Horizon and Finneas — known by many as Billie Eilish’s collaborator and brother — thanks to a 268% surge in the cover song’s weekly growth. On Spotify, it already has more than 10 million streams.
“The song was doing pretty well, but it wasn’t doing nearly as well as it was before the TikTok trend began,” Rutter tells Rolling Stone. “It started to get playlisting, and I was super stoked about that. And then, it really was an almost overnight shift.” Rutter’s manager texted him about the song’s numbers being high — so he logged onto TikTok and noticed that a user named Skiian had started a makeup trend using the song. Suddenly thousands of creators were using his audio.
“It happened fast, and within a day or two, I was getting on all these Zoom calls with labels,” Rutter recalls. “It was intense. It seemed like I was just chilling and then, all of a sudden, a hundred people run into my house like, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!'”
He signed a deal with Disruptor/Columbia Records two days ago, on Tuesday.
Rutter didn’t expect to break through via a viral cover song. He’d moved to Los Angeles a year ago with the intent of inserting himself into the music industry, but moved back to Salt Lake earlier this month because COVID was putting a damper on those plans — ironically, however, the industry would soon be coming to him.
Though he released the Corinne Bailey Rae cover in late April through independent service Distrokid, it was TikTok user Skiian’s use of the song that propelled it into true virality. According to Rolling Stone’s data and analytics provider Alpha Data, total steams of the track are up by 282 percent when comparing the week of September 11th with the week of August 28th. Makeup influencers like Abby Roberts (who has 12 million followers) and James Charles (24 million followers) have all used the song; videos from the two of them alone attracted 35 million views.
Rutter is still processing the phenomenon that is this cover’s success — because, he says, the music he writes is usually a projection of his own deep sadness. For something so positive to serve as a career-defining moment was unexpected.
“I was in a worse place when I was making the album and didn’t have a grip on my depression,” he says. “Right after COVID-19 hit, I wanted to be working on something, but I really felt that — with how depressing the world already was at that point — I couldn’t handle writing a depressing song. It was too much. I started playing around with the idea of manifesting happiness instead of projecting my own sadness. It was pretty therapeutic.”
He describes “Put Your Records On” as “such a positive and hopeful song” and “one of the best examples of harnessing a feeling.” Rutter adds that he “felt like a lot of the people I know and care about could use a song like this right now.”
He doesn’t imagine that the next Ritt Momney album will sound much like that at all — which, he says, is a source of anxiety for him because so much of his newly expanded fanbase only knows him through the bubbly pop cover — but also thinks that it may be more diverse due to the exploration of growth that comes from sadness. He has realized, he says, that “it doesn’t have to be so heavy all the time.”
Rutter, for now, just wants to make sure that all his younger fans on TikTok know he didn’t write “Put Your Records On” — which many of them apparently thought. “All the credit goes to Corinne Bailey Rae,” he says. “I really didn’t change much about the song besides modernizing it a bit. The song is what’s doing the heavy lifting. I’ve felt some guilt for getting all of this stuff off of somebody else’s song, because it opened up so many doors for me.” Rutter’s dream is to collaborate with Rae herself. “If she’s down, I would love to do a duet with her,” he says. “That would be amazing.”