It goes without saying that Ryan Beatty is now almost unrecognizable from the teen pop sensation that debuted “Hey LA” on Radio Disney just about six years ago. In the song’s music video, the singer drives around LA, but it’s unclear whether or not he was old enough to have his driver’s license when the music video was filmed.
In 2012, Beatty was releasing covers of popular songs on his YouTube channel and was dubbed the next Justin Bieber, a moniker he later addressed in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. In true 2010’s pop-star fashion, Beatty toured with Cody Simpson in 2013 after releasing his debut EP “Because of You.”
He then fell off the map before resurfacing on Brockhampton’s “Bleach” in 2017. Beatty belts the chorus and is credited with a feature on the song, but his official return to the spotlight is marked by recent the release of his new album, “Boy in Jeans.”
Ryan Beatty, as the world knows him now, has bleach blond hair, which he lyrically cites several times throughout the album. His Twitter bio simply reads “child star,” a swift callback to his bygone celebrity. Now 22 years old, Beatty pens heart-wrenching confessionals about the loves and losses of his young adulthood.
Similarities remain between the child star of yesteryear and the Beatty of today. His vocals are still as strikingly impressive as before and sound effortless. “Boy in Jeans,” unlike Beatty’s “Because of You,” is much less clean-cut, and understandably so. Beatty is six years older and his lyrics are now formed by sentence fragments and unadorned phrases. “Boy in Jeans” is full of raw emotion and candidness.
Beatty sets the tone for “Boy in Jeans” through the album’s initial track, “Haircut.” The song’s intro is smooth and invites listeners to immerse themselves in the full experience that Beatty’s album offers.
As he explains that he finally feels like himself again, it becomes evident that “Haircut” and “Boy in Jeans” both signify a personal beginning and ending. The song and its corresponding album seem to be devices that allow Beatty to make peace with his past and evaluate how it has changed him. “Haircut” is cyclical and brutally honest. The song’s chorus is a commencement to the album in full. “It starts right now,” Beatty declares.
Throughout the album, listeners bear witness to Beatty’s raw, lyrical story-telling through his haunting vocals. Several tracks are in tune with the current musical zeitgeist; “Party’s Over” possesses an undeniable “Flower Boy” vibe and “Rhinestone” is reminiscent of the ever-great Frank Ocean.
“Euro,” “Powerslide” and “Party’s Over” exude effortless sexuality. Beatty describes his escapades and flirtationships with an authentic ease that feels personal. Listening through “Boy in Jeans” feels like having a casual heart to heart with Ryan Beatty and hearing to all his best stories. The mood is tranquil and the pressure is off as he bears his soul.
Beatty explained the album’s ubiquitous sincerity in an Instagram post announcing its release. “It’s so special to me, it practically sounds like the audio version of my heart,” he wrote.
Beatty’s heart is at its most present during the songs in which he recalls his past adorations. Whereas “Haircut” looks both forward and back, arguably the most impactful songs are those that offer Beatty a chance to relive and interpret the events that shaped him.
“Cupid” and “Bruise” are fragments of memories. Beatty presents his former internal conflict differently in each song, but both showcase the singer’s lyrical bashfulness. In “Cupid,” Beatty sets the scene for his listeners. “Pitch black,” he’s making out with a guy on an empty baseball field. The song’s instrumentals are relatively underplayed. Only the bare necessities underscore Beatty’s clear and ambient vocals as he reminisces about his past crush.
Beatty details his feelings as if they were thrust upon him. “Cupid got us fucked up,” he divulges. He’s shy and indirect as a result of his adolescent insecurity. He valiantly muses “date me” to the love interest that seems to have a girlfriend for show.
It’s adolescent passiveness at it’s finest and most endearing: Beatty continues to ask “who you gonna dance with?” instead of directly asking what his hook-up’s true feelings are. His plan of action is to play the pawn of this boy as he croons, “what do you want from me? I’ll give it to you, you just gotta ask.” Rather than muster up the courage to advocate for himself, the singer would rather dream about a day that this boy might love him back.
“Bruise” is the other side of the same coin. Beatty confesses that he went to a dance with his high school girlfriend and then left her there alone. An affected voice gives a play-by-play during the song: Beatty’s girlfriend danced alone while he made out with another guy in the men’s room.
All while this is happening; Beatty describes the night with an air of wonder and enchantment during chorus. “Superstar,” he addresses his love interest for the night, “I want to feel you shine on me.” He’s completely in awe of this boy, and he expresses his marvel with trademark youthful simplicity.
As in “Cupid,” Beatty remembers marveling in the effect that others have on him whilst navigating the consequences of his own actions. Undeniably, he admits that he felt selfish for only thinking about his dream guy amidst his girlfriend’s suffering.
Yet again, listeners can truly experience Beatty’s simulation of youth. It’s both relatable and poignant. “Cupid” and “Bruise” are so tender. Beatty describes the innocent and well-known feeling of wanting to be loved. He pursues this wish without abandon and is heartbroken along his journey.
Although Beatty’s strong suit is melodiously recreating memories, his fearless and unabashed honesty take center stage in “Pink Floyd” and “Camo.” Both songs give Beatty a platform to reflect on his current emotional state and recent wins and losses.
“Camo” features an ironically sanguine beat that is set as a backdrop to Beatty’s clever lyrics describing his “camo print depression.” “Pink Floyd” is a stripped-down expression of the singer’s gratitude that features a humbled shout-out to his parents.
As a whole, “Boy in Jeans” feels untouched and unaffected. Each song gives listeners insight into where Beatty’s been all these years and the serves as his triumphant and well-deserved return to stardom. His talent and introspective nature create a multifaceted album that merits a close listen.
I hope it doesn’t take Beatty another six years to release his next album. The world is certainly ready to hear more from this bold vocalist.