Johnnie Mikel had his debut EP, Night of Your Life, recorded before his 21st birthday, but from the sound of the resulting tracks, this one’s been a long time in the making. As a five track release, Night of Your Life introduces Mikel to new listeners, and pop culture fans will find themselves eager to dig in, thanks to the extended play’s deep influences from artists in pop’s upper echelon.
Night of Your Life opens with the anthemic ‘Come With Me.’ “For the night of your life…won’t ever be over, just getting closer…come with me,” Mikel sings. It’s a wildly infectious introduction bringing energy to the dancefloor. ‘Come With Me,’ like the rest of the songs on Night of Your Life, takes the best bits from pop superstars and remains authentic, resulting in truly enjoyable pop music that’s at home both on the radio and being spun by the DJ at an unforgettable party.
One of Night of Your Life‘s best tracks is ‘Influence.’ Mikel shared with POParazzi one of his influences is Britney Spears, and ‘Influence’ pays homage to some of Britney’s best with lyrics like “I take you in a shot, but I drink you slowly / another round til I’m gone and I lose my body / Baby, I’m a zombie, and I’m under your influence.” This one sounds so much like a cut from Femme Fatale with mesmerizing lyrics that use clever word play like much of Britney’s discography.
‘Foolish’ waxes more romantic, and this one is arguably the EP’s most mainstream track. ‘Foolish’ follows a time-tested method to good results, even if it isn’t Mikel’s most original offering. Lyrics like the bridge, “Yeah / We’re slightly insane / There goes my brain / Do it our way” sound like Kesha‘s music back when she had a dollar sign in her name. With the various pop influences that took part in crafting Mikel’s sound, it wouldn’t be surprising if Animal was one of them.
Night of Your Life continues with ‘Risk,’ a song that gets seductive and enticing.This one’s another dancefloor track, but there’s subtleties to the production and the pre-chorus that border on R&B. When the chorus swells and begins, Mikel’s delivery of “I don’t wanna miss, a moment like this / I don’t wanna miss, your kiss on my lips,” makes one think of Shakira’s “Whenever, Wherever.”
The EP closes with ‘Live While You Can,’ focusing more on giving the listener time to live it up and dance. Mikel focuses on staying positive despite whatever the circumstances may be and the way music can help soothe us. “Live while you can and dance, dance, dance / Tomorrow’s not promised, so take every chance to dance, dance, dance.” ‘Live While You Can’ is fairly simple, but its focus is on mixing inspiring lyrics with instrumental breakdowns, and it’s extremely effective at getting its message across. How can you not take Mikel’s advice and dance when there’s such tempting music calling you in?
With so many pop names being used to describe Mikel’s music — especially such iconic names — it’s important to note that Mikel’s influences and homages are probably only apparent to fans of these artists. When you grow up and are shaped by pop culture, these artists define your sound to its very core. While all these tracks have sprinkles of ingredients from pop’s finest, it would be wrong to say these songs sound like they were old Britney/Shakira rejects. Night of Your Life is indelibly Mikel’s own, bringing party anthem beats on top of these pop bangers.
With Night of Your Life, Mikel crafts new music based on the icons he grew up exposed to, and he sets his sights on their thrones. The EP’s electronic/pop production wonderfully captures the message of living life to the fullest and enjoying every minute of it through music. Mikel’s lyrics are cleverly inspired by the pop artists he clearly adores, and his lyrical delivery is equally on point. 2018 is just getting started, and so is Johnnie Mikel. Keep your eyes on this one.
Listen to Night of Your Life on Spotify below, and download it on iTunes.