Sincerity a key to AJ Rafael’s success
It was a surreal sight—a throng of fans, mostly teenage girls, lining up to watch a concert last week at the Music Museum that featured AJ Rafael, a virtual nobody.
But he’s not really unknown, if you ask the more than 300,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, where his music videos have registered over 70 million hits.
AJ (Arthur Joseph), 22, a Filipino-American singer-songwriter from Moreno Valley, California, was incredulous himself as he tried to speak above the din of screams between numbers in his gig. What had he done to merit such a wild reception?
Backed by a band of two Caucasians and one other Asian, AJ exuded charm and confidence as he played keyboards and sang tunes that were so honest, you had to listen and believe what he was saying.
The repertoire unmasked naive yet powerful sentiments—engaging in a fantasy conversation in “Emma Watson”; waxing poetic in “Starlit Nights”; feeling miserable in “Red Roses”; relishing the past in “Five Hundred Days.”
The music hewed close to pop-rock with catchy mid-tempo beats, at times shifting gears to allow lead guitar solos.
All these songs are contained in his debut indie album, “Red Roses,” which went to No. 7 on iTunes and also climbed Billboard’s Heatseeker chart.
When AJ called Kiana Valenciano for a duet in the Ogie Alcasid hit “Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang?” we felt good. AJ should take things in stride because time is on his side.
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