On Friday, the Vans Warped Tour announced its final lineup—after 24 years, the traveling pop-punk/emo festival is calling it quits. (The bands performing are anything but diverse, as expected.) Fans of the annual event are already guessing who Warped might bring out to surprise its loyal concert-goers, and one name that keeps cropping up is Blackbear. I’ve heard of the guy before; I remember that he attended the 2017 Grammys alongside producer Mike Posner but I...honestly don’t know what kind of music he makes? Or anything about him? Well, didn’t know is more accurate, because I’ve done the research and baby, I’m ready to educate. Who is Blackbear? Let’s dive in.
Even if you’ve never heard the name before this very moment, I bet you’re familiar with the music of Blackbear (real name Matthew Tyler Musto). Before launching a successful solo career (we’ll get to that) the 27-year-old worked as a songwriter in L.A., breaking into the mainstream when he co-wrote Justin Bieber’s first-ever monster hit, “Boyfriend,” in 2012. He’s since worked with Mike Posner (duh), indie darling James Blake, rapper Machine Gun Kelly, Linkin Park and a bunch of other folks in the EDM/rock/rap world.
In 2015, his life changed—Blackbear, stepping out of the shadows to do his own thing, self-released his first solo LP, Deadroses, and it’s lead single “Idfc” scored him MILLIONS OF VIEWS. I mean, the unofficial lyric video (below) alone has 76 million views. (The song itself is low-energy, somewhat sexy, white boy R&B with a hook that does not quit. Most of his music is in that vein, save for his rapping moments.) But how the hell did he get to be so popular?
There are a variety of reasons for his fame, each one impossible to quantify. Success works in mysterious ways these days—you can be massively popular and largely unknown to the mainstream public (read: all YouTube stars ever). Blackbear is the product of a few solid celebrity co-signs (writing pop hits for some of the biggest pop artists out there will do that for you), a few Kylie Jenner Snapchat streams and a major label record contract—he signed a $10,000,000 distribution deal with the giant Interscope Records, a part of Universal Music Group, in 2017, releasing his third and most successful LP, Cybersex, in November of last year.
So what’s next? Well, no one knows if it’s Warped Tour—and honestly, he’s much too big for the thing, so he’d be doing those organizers a favor. One thing is for sure—he’s here, and it doesn’t look like he’s planning on going anywhere.