Since their formation in 2016, Why Don’t We haven’t stopped…
Instead, these five young men -- Jonah Marais, Corbyn Besson, Daniel Seavey, Jack Avery, and Zach Herron -- have forged ahead at warp speed. In under two years, they innovatively amassed a diehard fan base through grassroots engagement in the digital arena fueled by a prolific outpouring of new music, constant social media engagement, and sold-out cross-country tours where online “likes” materialized I.R.L. into millions of screaming fans worldwide.
Prior to coming together, each member stood out as a performer in his own right. Jonah and Corbyn often livestreamed in-home performances to massive audience as Zach served up viral covers that generated tens of millions of views. Jack built a growing a subscriber base on YouTube, and Daniel etched a space in the hearts of viewers everywhere on American Idol. They crossed paths during tours and fan engagements in the midst of these burgeoning solo careers.
Soon, they found themselves on a group text where the idea of joining forces came up. Their collective response: “Why don’t we?”
Drawing on their respective talents and formidable followings, the group emerged as a phenomenon. Beyond generating over 300 million YouTube views and 200 million Spotify streams during that period, the quintet released five EPs -- Only The Beginning, Something Different, Why Don’t We Just, Invitation, and A Why Don’t We Christmas. Along with singles such as the 2018 Ed Sheeran-penned single “Trust Fund Baby,” this avalanche of music represented an unconventional approach as their audience constantly received new music at a record pace. Why Don’t We carved out a place among pop’s elite on the entire iHeart Jingle Ball tour, including a momentous stop at Madison Square Garden sharing the stage with the likes of Taylor Swift, Sheeran, and more. They sold out their first-ever headline tour throughout North America and followed that up by selling out an even bigger headliner in 2018, including multiple nights in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Toronto.
A tastemaker favorite, they lit up national television shows like Good Morning America and Live With Kelly and Ryan, among others. Rolling Stone dubbed them “An Artist to Watch,” and The Today Show described their meteoric rise as “one of pop music’s biggest breakout stories.”
This transformation into international renown resulted from a quiet grind as they angled toward superstardom the old-fashioned way -- one performance at a time -- whether online or on stage.
“When you see the numbers go up on social media, it’s great, but it’s just some pixels on your screen,” says Corbyn. “When you go on tour, you realize these are real people. We get to put a face, a voice, and a name to each fan. It’s so cool to experience that energy. We just want to have a great time with everybody.”
The group’s full-length debut for Atlantic Records, 8 Letters, provides the soundtrack to that “great time.” Merging pop, R&B, hip-hop, and even Latin vibes, it reflects their ambition to as Zach puts it, “do something original and different and bridge gaps.”
Jonah adds, “By making those first five EPs, we found our sound. However, we needed to reach the next level. We all agreed we had to focus on not just making an album, but creating something that we could really stand behind and be proud of. All of our work led up to it.”
“We sat down and really focused,” Jack recalls. “We carefully chose every song. We never took this many months on a project. We wanted to give something special to our fans, because they deserve the world.”
Staying in a West Hollywood Airbnb for three months, the boys tirelessly worked on what would become 8 Letters alongside a bevy of high-profile collaborators, including The Monsters & Strangerz [Zedd/Maren Morris, Nick Jonas], Prince Charlez [Rihanna], Mozella [Charlie Puth, Miley Cyrus], Mick Schultz [Jeremih], Sam Hook [Omarion], and more.
“Hooked” – the first song unveiled in advance of the album release – impressively shot to #3 on iTunes’ Overall Songs chart ahead of artists such as Post Malone, Shawn Mendes, and Ariana Grande, and was streamed over 16 million times on Spotify in its first 2 months. With its hypnotic and hashtaggable hook, the follow-up “Talk” further amplified anticipation, besting that feat, hitting #1 ahead of artists such as Maroon 5, Cardi B, and Drake among others.
The epic title track “8 Letters” illuminates Why Don’t We’s progression. Between sparse piano keys and sweeping sonic flourishes, each voice shines and soars as they share the spotlight in harmony. The chorus proves unforgettable as they ask, “If all it is 8 Letters, why is it so hard to say?”
“8 Letters means ‘I Love You’,” explains Zach. “It’s basically about a complicated relationship. It’s hard to say ‘I Love You’, because you don’t know if your significant other loves you back. Simultaneously, it’s got a few other meanings. There are eight songs on the album. Most importantly, 8 Letters is our way to say, ‘I Love You’ to the fans.”
Tapping into a Latin swagger, the upbeat and undeniable “Friends” captures what Corbyn calls, “a dope summer vibe.” Meanwhile, “Choose” reflects their collective passion for hip-hop as catchy cadences border on rap rhyme schemes and hyper confidence.
On “Fallen,” the band’s resident virtuoso Daniel picks up the cello and creates a rich sonic backdrop. “I didn’t bring my violin or viola, but I was able to take my cello and make it sound like a full orchestra. I love to bring that musicality to what we do. We took a ton of chances with the album, and it was really cool. It’s something we’re going to do more of and part of what makes the group special.”
“I hope people can appreciate the art behind what we do,” says Corbyn. “I hope they take away something positive. We’ve dreamed of putting out an album forever. We’ve been looking forward to this moment in our lives. Now, we’re here. ”
Jacks leaves off, “Be on the lookout, because this is only the beginning!”