Welcome to my first post on Essentially Pop! I feel privileged to have this opportunity to write for this website and I’m excited to bring you lots of news, reviews and interviews from artists and songwriters over the coming weeks! So the first thing I’m going to bring to you is a review of Sophie DeBattista in the Hard Rock Rising London Final on Thursday 30th April. I don’t remember the first song I ever heard Sophie play, however I do remember how I felt the first time I heard her music. As a listener I was blown away, her songs could’ve been hits you just heard on the radio, her vocals were strong and her performance was confident and passionate. As a songwriter, I was scared, why couldn’t I write like that?! But nonetheless it was inspiring to listen to and she has continued to impress me since then. I will bring you an introduction and insight into Sophie’s music and talk about her performance at The Hard Rock Cafe, London.
Sophie is a British singer/songwriter who grew up in Malta. She is currently studying for a degree in Songwriting at The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance, and can be regularly found busking around London. Her quirky personality comes across in her lyrics and performance, and this talent and likability has got her many great opportunities over the years, from playing at events organised by Capital FM and BBC Radio to performing in front of Boris Johnson and Andrew Lloyd Webber. She also got through to the Malta Eurovision Grand Final in 2013 and 2014 and has busked at The Brits amongst many other things! I went along to check out her set at The Hard Rock Cafe and here’s what happened.
Sophie was first up, walking on stage cool as a cucumber introducing herself and the rest of the band before kicking off the night with her first song “Running Back”. If Miss DeBattista was nervous, it didn’t show! The up-tempo original pop song was a great way to start and showed off Sophie’s range of skills, as the song features a rap section after the second chorus. Her vocals, particularly in the catchy choruses, were very strong, and the crowd and the judges seemed to really enjoy it.
When Sophie went into the next song her stage presence told all it needed to, she was focused in the song, communicating well with George on drums and Martin on bass, and most importantly enjoying herself. The opening line “I’ll tell you something tragic, in a beautiful, beautiful way” just pulls the listener in immediately, and the conviction in the way Sophie sings it keeps the audience captivated. The song was on a lower level than the first one, a little softer and slower but her technical vocal growl into the chorus lifts it well. My video skills kind of went downhill at this point when I began to really get into the song too and was swaying and tapping my feet as she sang, “I’ll jump if you jump, if you jump”, and I forgot I had a camera in my hand! Oh well if you nod your head to the beat of the music the footage won’t look like its moving at all!
Sophie finished with the song everyone had been waiting for and raving about since they first heard it; “Beer Goggles”. The song features a lot of stops in it, especially in the verses, which is a test of how tight a band is, and the three were obviously very well rehearsed with each other as it couldn’t have been any tighter. If you looked around particularly in the choruses everyone was dancing and most were singing along. Then connecting with the audience brilliantly, Sophie got everyone to join in on a call and response section of the chorus and the miserable few that didn’t join in first time round, Sophie did not give up on, and kept encouraging them to join in – which they did. A brilliant finale to her set and you could tell from the cheers the fans had a good time!
The feedback from the judges was positive, all commenting on Sophie’s exceptional songwriting abilities and saying how “Beer Goggles” will definitely be a hit one day soon. But for me, Sophie is more than just a great songwriter, she’s the full package. She writes future hits we are all agreed, but her vocals are as strong as any other pop star out there and she is a born performer and all round entertainer: but she’s modest about her talent and success, does not take it for granted and is genuinely grateful for her supporters. All this I feel, if she keeps the momentum going, will take her very far in life and to the top of the music industry! To find out more about Sophie check out her website.