Johnny Orlando: The New Teen Heartthrob

Johnny Orlando sitting cross-legged against white background
Photo: © Norman Wong

Despite his young age, Johnny Orlando drives many crazy — blame that on his awesome vocals and singing talents, not forgetting his good looks.

He’s the new kid on the block and is all set to bloom into a star soon. Like so many great artistes before him, Johnny Orlando got his start on YouTube when he was barely six years old. He began uploading covers of songs by fellow Canadian Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes and Taylor Swift in 2011. Orlando also took a jig with a song by The Chainsmokers and made his improvisations to it in his own amazing way. Many of these cover songs began going viral and before you knew it, there were millions following him. One of his most memorable covers is a rendition of Mendes’ hit Stitches.

A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Johnny was born on 24 January 2003 and is the youngest in the family to sisters Lauren and Darian. He was raised by his dad who played music constantly in the family home. It exposed him to different kinds of music growing up, but his biggest inspirations are Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber.

Johnny is an avid vlogger and regularly uploads video diaries to his channel, often accompanied by his sisters. Several of his vlogs give a behind-the-scenes look into the young singer’s life, and are a must-watch for fans. 

With wide coverage all over, Johnny was signed onto Universal Music Canada in May 2018 and released the singles What If (featuring Mackenzie Ziegler), Last Summer and All These Parties. Last Summer was a resounding follow-up track, charting on the Billboard Top 100 and accumulating millions of views and streams.

Mackenzie and Orlando did a song together called Day and Night, a couple of years ago. Their music producers introduced the two who immediately became friends, and have since travelled all over the U.S. and Europe together.

Johnny and Mackenzie have collaborated on several projects, and naturally, there have been rumours of a relationship between the two. Fans even gave the couple the name Jenzie. However, it seems that Johnny and Mackenzie are just close friends as she is in a relationship with Isaak Presley.

Johnny’s music is all about love. He also has several music videos to his credit, a few must-see ones would be Everything, Sleep, Waste My Time, all with a mushy touch to it, lyrics that sweep you off your feet and a melody that you would want to join in on. On a few songs, you would imagine licks of the Bieber sound in them with a pitch catering to the EDM sound, too.

Johnny won the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Canadian Act in November 2019, and received a Juno Award nomination for Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the Juno Awards of 2019 and at the Teen Choice Awards.

His debut EP, Teenage Fever, was released in March 2019 after which he embarked on his first headlining North American tour in support of the EP, beginning on 29 April 2019 in Chicago ending on 22 May 2019 in Vancouver. His support acts were Hayden Summerall and Gus McMillan. He recently released his brand new single Phobias in February 2020 which tells the story of his fears and insecurities. 

VERUS FERREIRA spoke to the 17-year-old singer to know more about his career, his music and what he was up to during the lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Going by your YouTube video in quarantine, it seems like you are having fun with your family in Etobicoke. Do you think family time was much needed amidst your busy work schedule?
It’s definitely been nice to have some time to relax and hang out with my family. It’s also been really great for me because I usually go to regular school, but with all this free time I can make more content for my fans.

What did you get to do during this lockdown which you normally wouldn’t have the time to?
I’ve gotten to really re-connect with my fans in a new way that I normally don’t have time to do. I started a new live series called Alone Together where I go live a few times a week with different guests. That has been so much fun.

What kind of songs are you writing during quarantine?
I have been working on a few songs inspired by the idea of quarantine and the situation that the world is in right now. I’m not sure if they will ever be released, but it’s an interesting topic to write about.

Is there a specific type of music you are following now to kill boredom and keep you in high spirits?
I’ve actually discovered a ton of new music during this quarantine since I’ve had so much free time. I’m really into The Weeknd’s new album right now.

What do you like about the concept of virtual concerts?
I usually perform for around 1000 people at my own concerts, so getting to sing for tens of thousands of people at one time on live is really cool. It sucks that you don’t have an in-person audience in front of you, but it’s so cool to see people’s reactions in real time in the comments.

Earlier this year, you met Shawn Mendes. Any plans of working on a song with him?
Not as of right now, but I would love to. He’s definitely one of my musical inspirations so that would be awesome.

You have done a lot of covers of Justin Bieber songs, and you were really excited when he started following you on Twitter last year. Can we expect new music together or a virtual concert with him?
I haven’t heard anything from him since he followed me on Twitter, but I would love to have him on my Instagram series Alone Together. Justin if you’re seeing this, hit me up!

From covers of Justin Bieber and Austin Mahone songs, to having your own songs out, how has your journey been so far?
Transitioning from covers to original music was a really fun process. I really got to discover myself as an artiste and explore my own personal sound. I’m definitely still evolving and growing as I get older though!

You opened up about your fears and insecurities with your single Phobias. Why do you think it is necessary to be open with your fans about your struggles?
I think it’s important to be genuine and real with your fans so they really get to know you and connect with you on a personal level. They are such a big part of my life; they’re really just like my friends. I love talking to them about real topics and just having genuine conversations.

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Verus Ferreira
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Verus Ferreira

Verus Ferreira covers the hottest desi and international artists for THE TEENAGER TODAY. Passionate about music, he is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book. A freelance journalist for over 27 years, he also contributes to musicunplugged.in