5 things about viral sensation Maggie Rogers, from speechless Pharrell to ‘SNL’
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Maggie Rogers isn’t your average viral star.
Most Internet celebrities try to quickly capitalize on novelty hits — see “Walmart yodeling kid” Mason Ramsey or “Ellen” phenomenon Sophia Grace.
But Rogers wisely didn’t rush out music after her single “Alaska” blew up online in June 2016. Instead, she’s gradually released a string of critically acclaimed, increasingly popular singles, scoring her biggest success to date with the pulsating “Light On” (Capitol Records), which hit the top of Billboard’s Triple A chart for adult alternative songs.
Now, the 24-year-old folk-pop singer is out with her major-label debut album “Heard It in a Past Life,” which sees her working with heavyweight producers Greg Kurstin (Adele’s “Hello”) and Ricky Reed (Halsey’s “Bad at Love”) while maintaining the frank, evocative songwriting that has endeared her to fans.
Here’s what else you should know about her before giving it a listen:
She left Pharrell Williams speechless
A viral video started it all. While studying at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in 2016, Rogers and her classmates were asked to prepare a song for a homework assignment. Little did they know it was for a masterclass with Williams, who critiqued each of the students’ work — until he got to Rogers, who had brought in an unfinished version of what would become “Alaska.” Floored by its dreamy melody and layered production, a teary-eyed Williams told her, “I’ve never heard anyone like you before.” Video of his stunned reaction went viral, and she signed with Capitol Records soon after.
Her music is a fusion of folk, dance, pop
Rogers grew up listening to Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens but cites genre-breaking singers such as Bjork, Patti Smith and Carrie Brownstein as some of her biggest influences. Her music is often described as “folktronica,” a subgenre pioneered by artists including Imogen Heap, Four Tet and Bat For Lashes, who blend elements of folk and electronic music into their songs.
Taylor Swift’s a big fan
Rogers has continually wowed during live shows and radio performances with hypnotic covers of The xx, Neil Young and The Sundays. Best of all is her soaring, soulful take on Taylor Swift’s “Tim McGraw,” which she recorded during a stripped-down session for Spotify. Swift gave her seal of approval shortly after its release last month, thanking Rogers on Instagram and calling the cover “heavenly.”
Pete Davidson ‘proposed’ to her on ‘SNL’
Rogers got mixed reviews in November for her “Saturday Night Live” debut as musical guest, where she performed a slightly shaky “Light On” and a better “Fallingwater.” But it was her pre-show appearance that got the lion’s share of attention on Twitter, when castmate Davidson jokingly proposed to her during a promo with host Jonah Hill. Davidson’s ex-fiance, Ariana Grande, was apparently not amused, writing, in a since-deleted tweet, that he was “clinging” to relevancy.
She wrote the album mostly in her childhood bedroom
During a Twitter Q&A with fans, Rogers revealed that she wrote much of “Past Life” in her bedroom and barn studio at her parents’ house in Easton, Maryland. The album cover was shot in the desert a couple of hours outside of Los Angeles. The title came to her while walking alone in Maine. “It’s a lot about memory,” she said. “That moment when you stop making decisions and start remembering them.”