Lists

We Stacked Dallas Artists' First Videos Against Their Most Popular Ones

OK, we admit it, Demi Lovato's low-budget first video is kinda cute.
OK, we admit it, Demi Lovato's low-budget first video is kinda cute. Rich Fury/ Getty
Someone on Instagram gave us a great idea. We swear it's a good one and has nothing to do with stealing high-priced school equipment.

Jarred Jermaine (@itsjmaine) made a short video comparing Post Malone's first song "Why Don't You Love Me" to his most popular song "Sunflower." The differences range from hilarious to interesting and that's even if you don't count the fact that "Sunflower" includes clips from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

So how do Dallas' other favorite sons and daughters stack up against their own past?
Demi Lovato's first song "Moves Me" (2008)
Right off the bat, this isn't fair. Lovato was only 13 when she made this and didn't have the power of a multimillion-dollar media machine to make a professional video. It's like critiquing a kid's macaroni painting for its lack of artistic integrity.

That being said, it's an impressive start for an emerging talent who has grown into a blockbuster music career. Lovato showed even then a talent that's worth exploring and expanding and clearly enjoyed what she was doing, even if it feels a little silly at times — but those things always help, especially when just starting on a music career. That's the mistake a lot of young artists make, taking their music so seriously that they sound like robots without a sense of joy or play.
Demi's Lovato's biggest song "Heart Attack" (2013)
Just under nine years later, Lovato is a full-fledged star thanks to tracks such as "Heart Attack," the pop singer's single that cracked the Top 10 of the Billboard chart in 2013. Lovato's video team has graduated from a local media studio to the likes of director Chris Applebaum, who made videos for some of the biggest hits by Rihanna and Miley Cyrus. Lovato's voice is powerful and can bounce between ranges and can hold a high note in a way that punctuates the song's tone rather than just scream for listener's attention.
Norah Jones' first song "Don't Know Why" (2002)
Jones set the bar so high with her first song in 2002 that it seemed like another Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald could be in the making. "Don't Know Why" is a complex, multifaceted mix of so many different styles and sounds that you could lose track of time trying to separate them. She fuses country influences, blues and jazz in a single track but not in a way that crams them together like someone trying to pack a bag 10 minutes before a flight. They are crisp and delicate and lay across each other with the lightness of a stack of feathers.
Norah Jones' biggest song "Sunrise" (2004)
This song is her biggest commercial hit to date and spent six weeks on the Billboard chart at No. 22. Her sound is a little more playful in its tone, but it's just as beautiful and stirring as her first song. The video is also more colorful thanks to the direction of James Frost, who oversaw complex productions like the single-shot of OK Go's Rube Goldberg contraption for "This Too Shall Pass." The one thing that hasn't changed from Jones' first to her biggest is her confidence and her love for the sounds and sights she's making.
Yella Beezy's first song "Trap in Designer" (2016)
The time between the McKinney native rapper's first song and biggest hit is a relatively short one. He became a huge name in the Dallas rap scene with hits like "Trap in Designer" that he and his crew started into public rotation by hanging out in strip clubs and getting the DJs to play his tracks for ambiance, because Beezy felt local party DJs wouldn't play local music. The video showcases his resourcefulness to get a video made for his track and get his name and sound out there by keeping it simple: stacks of cash, expensive stuff and strippers in thongs. However, there's no denying he's got a unique sound that's worth cultivating into a career.
Yella Beezy's biggest song "That's On Me" (2017)
Beezy's stardom took off within the span of a couple of years thanks to a opening set for Jay-Z and Beyoncé and with his biggest hit to date, "That's On Me." The surprising thing is how little has changed between his first and biggest hit. Both have a great sound but the video for "That's On Me," somehow looks like it was filmed before "Trap in Designer." The rapper is constantly clutching stacks of cash but the posse and crew of backup dancers are gone. Instead, he just films himself in front of a stripped (we wanna say) Jeep and in the lobby of Manhattan Jewelers, which alone is entertaining and novel since some of the staff members are still there at their stations while he's rapping and posing. Still, it showcases his resourcefulness for production and recording and shows how keeping something simple can work to your benefit.

Kirk Franklin's first song "Stomp" with God's Property and Salt-N-Pepa (1997)
The gospel star's first recorded and released track happened with this religious rap ballad, which Franklin wrote. Right off the bat, you can feel the power and conviction in his voice, which helps you look past the most '90s thing you'll ever see outside of a 3D remake of Space Jam starring the cast of Friends. He has a unique hook, something that gospel music needed at the time.
Kirk Franklin's biggest song "Together" with for KING & COUNTRY and Tori Kelly (2020)
Franklin's 2020 collaboration with the Australian Christian pop duo is something that every musician should watch regardless of their religious conviction or musical inclinations. It was filmed during the heart of the COVID pandemic when stepping outside for more than five minutes meant certain death, or at least felt something like that. Instead, they filmed separated scenes for the video mixed with cuts of fans holding signs showing the people and things they miss while in quarantine. The artists perform a powerful, spiritual ballad that can reach anyone’s heart just on a secular, human level. It could make Richard Dawkins tear up a little. Then at the end of the track, they let the camera pull back and film themselves, moving the black backdrops to reveal they shot the whole thing from their own houses just like the fans with signs in the black and white cuts. It's a powerful moment that rips away any speck of pretense or separation from its audience and screams just how hard we're still trying to get through such a frustrating and trying time. 
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Danny Gallagher has been a regular contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2014. He has also written features, essays and stories for MTV, the Chicago Tribune, Maxim, Cracked, Mental_Floss, The Week, CNET and The Onion AV Club.