Betty Who on her influences, transition to pop and that viral marriage proposal
Although she was born in 1991, singer Betty Who is a child of the '80s. Her music is classic dance-pop in the vein of early Madonna or Robyn.
But her big break didn't come from the clubs; it came from YouTube, when her single "Somebody Loves You" soundtracked the viral video "Spencer's Home Depot Marriage Proposal." The video, in which a Utah man proposed to his partner with the help of a dancing flash mob, has racked up more than 11 million views.
amNewYork spoke with Who about the video and her exploding career.
Where did you develop your love of '80s music?
I fell in love with it when I was 13 or 14. I think I listened to "Love is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar 400 times when I first discovered it.
Who else influenced you?
Whitney Houston. Her voice, just the sound and the impact, was super-influential to me as a woman. Then there were singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Bob Dylan. I spent a lot of time listening to and writing singer-songwriter music. It was a shock to everyone when I started making pop music.
What inspired you to make the transition?
When I met my producer, we did a couple demos of singer-songwriter music. He said, 'You have too much energy to sit on a stool with a handheld mic for the rest of your life. You love dancing and energy. You should be making that kind of music.' Once I did, nothing ever felt so right.
How did you find out about the Home Depot video?
I was emailed by my manager. I was sitting at the hairdresser when he emailed me the video?I started crying. I still cry when I watch it. It's so beautiful. They invited me to sing at their wedding. They're such sweet boys.
Betty Who performs April 18 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, 66 N. Sixth St. in Williamsburg, 718-486-5400, at 9 p.m., $15 (sold out), and April 19 at Bowery Ballroom, 6 Delancey St., 212-533-2111, at 9 p.m., $15 (sold out).