Last Monday night (Feb. 1), after Greyson Chance made his New York City stage return in front of a few hundred screaming fans at the Studio at Webster Hall, the 18-year-old singer hosted a meet-and-greet. Roughly 80 percent of the room formed a snaking single-file line after the final song has been played—many of them young girls, some of them side-by-side with their parents, most of them staying out too late on a school night, all of them discussing the finer points of Chance’s first NYC performance in multiple years.
“I was nervous about the parents,” Chance recalled to Fuse two days after the performance. “A fan came up with her mom, and she said, ‘I loved the show!’ I turned to her mom and I said, ‘Did you enjoy? I’m so sorry about the f-bombs. My mom’s here tonight too, and she didn’t enjoy them.’ And the mom looks back at me and says, ‘Ah, fuck it, I don’t care.’ So I guess it all turned out well!”
Fans of Chance’s pop-rock stylings from back in the day—as in, back when the Oklahoma native burst onto the scene in 2010, with a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” that went viral—now have an adult artist to watch, and root for. The singer-songwriter’s new tunes, which skew more toward R&B, make the support easy: “Hit & Run,” a propulsive new single previewed at Chance’s recent shows and released on Friday (Feb. 5), showcases a deeper voice and more dynamic production than the piano-driven fare on Hold On ’Til The Night, the album Chance released when he was 13.
That was back in 2011, when the “Paparazzi” video was on its way to 55 million views and Ellen DeGeneres made Chance a regular guest on her talk show. Naturally, Chance drew a ton of comparisons to another young male singer tapped as the future of pop: Justin Bieber. Whereas Bieber’s sound was more dance-friendly, Chance singles like “Unfriend You” and “Waiting Outside The Lines” appeared to be aimed at the adult-contemporary audience.
“For a while I felt like it bothered me,” says Chance of the Bieber comparison. “Suddenly I was in this industry and I was being compared to someone who I didn’t know personally. Even now, it always feels like people need to make the, ‘Oh, he’s the next so-and-so.’ It depends on the day—sometimes I’m a little irked by it, other times it is what it is. I want to prove to people that I’m the first me, and here’s the music I can play. I want to establish myself as my own artist.”
For Chance, the comeback is just now rumbling to life, after a few years of performing overseas and tossing out more experimental singles. Small shows in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago over the past month have set the stage for a new EP, due out later this year. Chance still plays a handful of older songs at his shows, but the follow-up to Hold On ’Til The Night will sound nothing like it, based on the slithering beats he unveiled onstage. The shrieking fans didn’t seem to mind the change in direction.
“I saw a lot of familiar faces—now everybody’s just a little bit taller,” Chance says. “I was really nervous about these shows, because I didn’t know how those fans were going to react. They could have said, ‘Well, he had it back in the day, and he doesn’t have it anymore.’ … I feel really relieved and grateful that the fans enjoyed the music. It makes me more confident now to go back and start writing new music, to think that these fans will be by me for a while.”
Along with the EP, an upcoming documentary will chronicle Chance’s musical journey; both projects should be wrapped “within a matter of weeks,” he says. Chance knows that he’s a long way away from his final destination in the industry, but doesn’t regret any of the steps he’s already made.
“I don’t think I would have changed anything at all,” he says. “I was a kid when we were putting records out, and I really did like the music we were putting out. I think I would just tell my past self to stay confident, to keep going and not get discouraged by anything. If I could have had that little boost of confidence, I think it would have helped me out a lot. But at the end of the day, I’m still here.”