Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey — Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.
Hilary. Miley. Demi. Selena. All of these names ring an instant bell as being sassy and classy ladies who, over the past decade, successfully transitioned from Disney starlet to full-on pop princess. And dancing Shake It Up diva Zendaya is aiming to make the same musical leap. She’s barely of driving age (more on that in our video interview above!), but already this multi-talented California teen has become one of the Disney Channel’s most recognizable faces, written a book, competed on Dancing With The Stars and, most recently, released “Replay,” the smooth, R&B-leaning lead single off her upcoming debut album.
Everything about Zendaya — from the mixtape-themed lyric video for “Replay” to her love of Shakespeare — indicates that there’s an old soul underneath her cool and super-cute exterior. So we were more than thrilled to have the budding songstress sit down with us for the latest segment of Popping Up! Watch above.
HOMETOWN: Oakland, California
SOUNDS LIKE: Rhythmic pop that blends modern production techniques with an old-school, ’90s sensibility. Zendaya says, “I get a lot of comments saying, ‘Your voice sounds like Aaliyah’…that’s cool! If people think my voice sounds like Aaliyah, I’m like, thank you!”
BIGGEST INFLUENCE: Michael Jackson
WHERE YOU’VE SEEN HER BEFORE: Zendaya currently stars on the Disney Channel’s Shake It Up, which is about to wrap its third season in August. She also competed on Dancing With The Stars this past spring, where she and partner Val Chmerkovskiy came in second place, behind only Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough.
Zendaya — ”Replay”
HER INTRO TO THE ARTS: Zedaya’s mother works in theater. “Just seeing that level of creativity, on the Shakespearean level — I was an 8-year-old who fell in love with Shakespeare and could actually understand what he was saying, which doesn’t usually happen,” she explains.
ONE OF THE REASONS WE’RE SMITTEN WITH HER: One of the first things you notice about Zendaya’s Instagram account (find her at ZENDAYAMAREE) is that she has an astonishing 2.1 million followers. Even more impressive is the quote by Oscar Wilde she chose to place in the header: “No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.”
HER UPCOMING ALBUM: The 16-year-old says we can expect more music that sounds like “Replay,” and adds, “I want it to be more than what everything else is on the radio.”