AJ Mitchell wowed fans and pop music influencers at the release party for his upcoming Slow Dance EP on Wednesday night.
The venue, Lower Manhattan’s The Box, lent a theatrical complement to the rising pop sensation’s 5-song showcase. AJ and his band performed on a stage backed by red velvet curtains to a room adorned with chandeliers, chintz, and (I would guess) 18th-century-esque artwork. Amidst the detail and complexity of the décor, AJ’s flawlessly clean vocal performance shone.
AJ opened to a chorus of cheering fans with one of the singles off his new EP, “Move On.” He followed with a then-unreleased EP track “Out My Mind,” reminding us that his vocal effects and acrobatics are not just studio products. His crowd-pleasing ballad “I Don’t Want You Back” brought him out from behind the microphone and to his piano.
Young as he is, AJ has a powerful crowd appeal. He embodies the charming, confident social media story so many of us wish we could tell. His origin story is about as modern and inspiring as they come. He started out as a 13-year-old Midwestern kid posting covers of songs on YouTube and Instagram, and amassed a fan base that elevated him to Top 40 fame by the time he was 17.
I imagine that for new fans of AJ’s music, it’s shocking to find out he’s now only 18. Much of his discography so far deals with the trials of romance – heartbreak, hooking up, moving on but not really – themes you wouldn’t expect someone three years away from the legal drinking age to understand intimately. But regardless of this tension, his performance sells it. He can sing ballads, club hits, and everything in between with a confidence and polish the crowd can’t help but adore.
Towards the end of his set, AJ’s about to begin playing his recent hit “All My Friends.” The song’s about watching friends couple up and “lock it up” while you’re still on the hook for a long-ago ex.
He addresses the crowd: “Raise your hand if you’re in a relationship.”
About half the crowd, which ranges in age from maybe 21 to 45, raises their hands.
“This song is not for you,” he chuckles.
But as soon as AJ starts singing, we’re all sold.
AJ Mitchell’s new EP, Slow Dance, is out now. Check it out here!
My personal favorite from the new EP. Is there a hint of Bruno Mars or is it just me?