Demola’s new music video and single “Light Up”

Nigerian pop sensation Demola’s new music video and single “Light Up,” featuring none other than Wande Coal in a fabulous guest appearance, is living up to its promising title and attracting a lot of attention on the international level right now thanks to the sophisticated Afrobeat style created by its two stars. Here, Demola dispenses tender verses against a backdrop of elegant string melodies and a rich, hip-hop-inspired groove that is anything but archaic in its fusion of old school swing and pulsing, cosmopolitan beats. “Light Up” is a smoking addition to a discography that was already quite sterling to begin with, and in a year that has been less than impressive for pop fans, it’s a diamond in the rough that demands some serious consideration from audiences.

The music video for the song is as visually engaging as it is melodically mesmerizing, but I wouldn’t say that it’s overstimulating in the least. There’s a lot of bells and whistles in the production quality, and there’s no debating that it’s definitely one of the more polished efforts that I’ve seen from an indie artist outside of the United States this season, but calling it an exhibition of excesses would seem, at least to me, dismissive of its surprisingly cinematic finish. Beautiful girls, Lamborghinis, a tropical paradise that belongs to Demola and Wande Coal on this sensuous summer afternoon – it’s all packaged with a seamlessness that is simply too hard to find anymore in modern pop, and though it’s not the minimalistic approach that we’ve seen so commonly on the western side of the Atlantic recently, that might be precisely what makes it such an intoxicating find.

Demola’s signature violin melodies add a texture to this track that instantly separates its sonic profile from all of the pedestrian singles we’ve heard out of his closest rivals in and out of his scene. There’s an iconic tonality to its aching harmony; while the energy here is thoroughly upbeat and joyful, the yearning of the strings is inescapable, creating a sense of tension in the buildup to the chorus that makes the biggest hook in “Light Up” even more spectacular. His is a trademark style if I’ve heard one this year, and it’s coming from an artist who has proven time and time again that playing to the status quo is well below his professional paygrade.

I can’t wait to hear more from this incredibly gifted musician in the future, and hopefully this won’t be the last occasion on which he and Wande Coal work together. They bring out the best in each other’s skillsets in this hybridity of the most highbrow variety, and even if you’re not the biggest fan of Afrobeat and urban pop experimentations, I have a feeling that you’ll find “Light Up” to be a song, and a music video, worth making an exception for. It’s a step in the right creative direction for both of these artists, and easily one of the smarter pop singles that I have had the chance to take a look at in the last few months.

Michael Rand

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