Social media is a strange beast. On the one hand it is said that the underlying algorithms act like an echo chamber, wherein our predilections are fed and reinforced. On the other hand, there is a real democratic potential to social media. As is often reported, a random post by a person with only a handful of followers can suddenly go viral.
These aspects are reinforcing, as it takes the algorithms picking up on interest in the random post to take it to broader attention. And we all know that algorithms not only work in strange and mysterious ways, but they are also tweaked and changed. So there is a lot of luck involved. Leighton John’s cover of Unchained Melody is a case in point.
Over the last seven years, John has posted cover songs to YouTube, to little success. His biggest hit is a cover of Ruelle’s, I Get To Love You Suddenly (67k views in one year). Thereafter he seems to have fallen out of favour with the algorithms once again. Most of his posts have views in the low hundreds. Suddenly his Unchained Melody has 1.3K views in four weeks, while his previous post has only 89 views in two months. It appears that Lady Luck is smiling on Leighton John once again.
John is a South Wales-based singer for hire. He performs at social functions and weddings. Blue Bird comments under Unchained Melody that he is a “Very pub singer”. While somewhat uncharitable, that is true of course. The thing is that many YouTube performers have gone from modest beginnings to substantial success; and even major artists get negative comments. Vixen 123’s comment bodes well for John “I just luv listening to you, and even looking at you with those eyes and captivating smile”.
As mentioned, I Get To Love You Suddenly is Leighton John’s biggest success. Ssicamon 1’s comment on the video confirms that John is an artist to watch. Ssicamon 1 wrote “You are incredible. My fiancé and I have been watching videos of this song for days and were just about to give up. Once the video loaded up, both of us paused in shock over how perfect your voice and this cover is. Can we pleeeease play this song at our wedding?” That’s a clear vote of confidence!
Social media is full of artists who have won acclaim after a single viral video, and there is clearly momentum behind John’s cover of The Righteous Brother’s Unchained Melody. Why else would we feature him on The Music Man!
Leighton John is based in Newport, Pembrokeshire. Newport is a compact town built around the ancient port of Parrog. Musically it is a backwater, except for the year (1969-1970) when the popular British psychedelic outfit The Incredible String Band lived on a communal farm in the area. This raises a further point regarding the democratic potential of social media. Countless artists from apparent backwaters have seen a massive surge in interest on the back of a single viral video. Sometimes it’s their first post, sometimes success comes after years of a person posting videos for their family and friends.
It’s possible that the interest in Leighton John’s Unchained Melody comes from algorithms reacting to Valentine’s Day’s interest in the song. Whatever the reason, anyone that is beguiled by John’s heartfelt cover of the Righteous Brothers’ classic will wish him well. With just a little push, Leighton John could put Newport back on the musical map. As they say, watch this space!