The influencer-to-pop star pipeline is strong, but does it last? Today we’ve delved into the careers of ten influencers who have tried their hand at music.
Few people may know that Kimmy-K tried her hand at the pop-star life. We all know that she loves to dabble in any avenue she can, from skincare and makeup to mobile games and shapewear. However, this small foray into the music industry wasn’t her best work. Releasing Jam (Turn It Up) in the golden age of 2011, you could call this a ‘club banger’. It’s filled with edited vocals, heavy beats and a simple but effective melody. However, the original influencer definitely leaves something to be desired regarding vocal talent, and the lyrics are as inspired as you’d imagine. Sadly that was Kim’s first and last attempt at a music career, but you never know; she might still have a few tunes up her sleeve.
Like Kimmy-K, Jeffree Star loves to put his fingers in many different pies, from MySpace celebrity to beauty guru tycoon. However, you might not know that he got his start as a muso. In 2009 Star released his debut album, Beauty Killer, which rode the new wave of pop and racked up a few million listens, earning him a deal with Akon’s music label Konvict Muzik. The deal didn’t last long, as Star abruptly left the industry in 2013 for unknown reasons. However, he later described signing to Akon's record label as "the biggest mistake” he ever made. Either way, we don’t think the music industry is too lost without him.
Addison Rae found fame on the social media platform TikTok, posting viral dance content and following along with a multitude of influencer trends. She quickly became one of the highest earners on the platform earning an estimated $5mill in the last year from various platforms and sponsorships. Despite her social success, Rae still felt that she needed to make her foray into music and in 2021, she released her debut single, Obsessed, which talks about…herself. Rae’s massive fanbase quickly jumped on the release, but many were underwhelmed. It’s hard to say, exactly, whether the song is a flop when it’s racked up over 48 million streams; either way, it doesn’t seem like Rae will be releasing more music anytime soon.
Bella Poarch is another OG TikTok star that tried her hand at a music career, kicking off her influencer conglomerate by posting videos of herself lip-singing to popular songs. Now she’s built up a massive music catalogue, with her most famous song Build A Bitch earning a cool 378+ million streams, putting her in the major leagues with artists like Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato. Despite the massive online support, Poarch is still yet to do a live show, much to the dismay of her fans, who are keen to see if those vocals which have hidden behind lip-singing videos for so long can carry to a live setting. Only time will tell…
Jake Paul got his start on Vine and then YouTube by posting skits and prank videos of his friends a family. What was originally innocent fun quickly became serious when Paul caused controversy through xenophobic comments, his participation in the Black Lives Matter looting and his insinuating that COVID-19 was a hoax. During his first years online, Paul turned to rap to get his ‘misunderstood’ point of view across in an attempt to sidestep the ‘media bias’. His first song, It’s Everyday Bro gained major social attention and was the first of many ‘dis-tracks’ he released. While some songs did well (68million+ streams), it’s clear that Paul wasn't cut out for the musical limelight. He now spends his time training for UFC fights, where he can insult people face to face rather than putting it in a song.
Paris Hilton is the original influencer from way back when and is considered one of the first ‘personalities’ to commit to the influencer-to-pop star pipeline. Releasing her debut album in 2006, which was aptly named Paris, Hilton set the trend of releasing an album with no prior musical interest. Singles like Stars Are Blind, and Nothing In This World appeased crazy fans, but she never cracked the commercial market, turning to other business ventures instead. Although Hilton doesn’t sing anymore, she still DJs from time to time, putting her notable name to use in the party scene.
Gabbie Hanna found fame, much like Jack Paul, through Vine and then YouTube. She garnered 5 million followers on each platform from her comedy sketches. In 2018 she released her first single, Honestly, which received mixed reviews. Unlike many other influencers, Hanna has yet to give up the music biz and released two albums last year, Trauma Queen and This Time Last Year. Both were released independently. Sonically emulating a heavier Demi Lovato, Hanna’s music is definitely not for the faint-hearted and has received little radio play. She also spends her time painting, writing poetry and recording interpretive dance videos for her followers.
Bestie of Paris Hilton and daughter of the talented muso Lionel Richie, it’s no surprise that the 2000’s socialite Nicole Richie tried her hand at the scene. However, it’s probably not the path you’d expect her to go down. In 2020, Richie announced that she would be releasing a rap comedy album under the moniker of Nikki Fre$h that promoted sustainability and awareness surrounding different agricultural issues, such as the extinction of bees or the waste of ugly fruit and vegetables. While the songs went mostly unnoticed by fans due to their exclusivity on the streaming platform Roko, overall, the album is fun and a breath of fresh air in the seas of influencers' often vain music attempts.
KSI has been a major player in the YouTube world since 2012 from recording himself playing the videogame FIFA. Since then, he's dabbled in various business ventures, from boxing, acting, crypto and music. Having written and produced comedy-rap songs on his YouTube channel, It wasn’t until 2015 that he released his first serious piece of music titled Lamborghini. As the title suggests, the song is about his pride and joy, Lamborghini Aventador. Since then, he’s released a string of singles and albums, which his dedicated youtube fans have enjoyed. While he still dabbles in the music world, he mostly does features and small parts - turning into a DJ Khaled type rather than his original plan of becoming the next Stormzy.
This real housewife queen can get down with the best of them, but can she create a hit song? The jury’s still out. Starting off her music career in 2007, Jayne released two singles, Rollercoaster and Stars, to little acclaim but continued to release music well into the 2010s. Filled with electronica-inspired synths and heavy bass, Jayne's songs are clear attempts to follow the trends of the time, with little originality present. However, Jayne still likes to dabble in music occasionally and released her most popular song in 2017, XXPEN$IVE. She also mentioned that she wants to get back on the metaphorical horse in 2023, so who knows what she'll gift us next?
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