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John K’s Love + Everything Else Has A Song For Every Mood

Here is the responsibility of the pop artist: taking a complex yet universal emotion or experience — heartbreak, loneliness — and boiling it down to a savory stock of addictive hooks and simplified lyrical motifs. That recipe may seem easy enough to outsiders, but some topics, as vast and generative and difficult as love, need ample time to cook, then digest. Perhaps that’s why John K, an emerging singer from Orlando, Florida, has dedicated himself to exploring that feeling in all its delicious complexity.

The fruit of that work is Love + Everything Else, a collection of nine sweet songs and one delectable remix that K refers to as a “project,” a word that hints at the in-progress nature of his sound and a collaborative way of songwriting. Crafting tracks with a close-knit team of friends through candid recording sessions and thought-starting games, his break came in 2017 when “OT,” an electro-pop musing over a missed connection, amassed over 50 million streams despite its independent release. A debut EP, If We Never Met, followed, and he signed with Epic Records in 2019 with the support of Diplo and Ricky Remedy.

Now, with Love + Everything Else, K lays it all on the table, whether navigating the difficulties of moving on from a relationship (“Let Me Let You Go”), deploying clever metaphors for his own shortcomings as a partner (“Cheap Sunglasses”), or transposing vows into lyrics tailor-made for his wife (“I.L.Y.M.”). His soulful delivery feels at home over EDM basslines, and though he has often been compared to the crooners of yesteryear, many of his songs feel perfectly primed to capture the anxiety and isolation of the coronavirus era (“6 Months”). For MTV News, he breaks down the project track by track and mood by mood.

  1. “Let Me Let You Go”

    Listen to it when you’re feeling: “at a crossroads and have to make a decision.”

    Key lyric: “Baby, let me love you / Oh baby, let me let you go”

    “‘Let Me Let You Go’ was kind of a jam session. And it’s always going to be, until something takes its place, the song that we open every show with. So, I really want it to be true to that, and that is why I chose it to be the first song on the project.”

  2. “Parachute”

    Listen to it when you’re feeling: like you “want to vibe out.”

    Key lyric: “If that’s the consequence of lovin’ you / Then I will fall without a parachute”

    “My favorite song we’ve ever worked on. We tapped into something different, something special. I’ll never forget the session. We were all just standing on our feet, just really all singing the same — it already felt like a chorus. Sometimes in creation, you get a glimpse of something and can see and feel and hear what the final needs to sound like. That song had so much personality in it, it was such a great collective effort, and everybody was just in the zone. It was a beautiful thing.”

  3. “If We Never Met”

    Listen to it when you’re feeling: “thankful.”

    Key lyric: “I wouldn’t even know what love is / If we never met”

    “‘If We Never Met’ is my anthem. It’s the love of my life, a nod to all the people that have made me better. ‘If We Never Met’ started this project. It’s truly my story, and it’s so special because the song that’s truly about the story of how we all met, ends up being the song that kind of takes off first. And it was a really nice full-circle moment.”

  4. “6 Months”

    Listen to it when you’re feeling: “longing.”

    Key lyric: “Feels like it’s been six months and seven days / When I’m without you”

    “I spent a lot of time in Los Angeles last year, working on all this music. Sometimes, I was gone for three to four weeks at a time, and I had to go back to being in a long-distance relationship. So, 6 months was purely coming from a homesick, I-miss-my-girl place, and we just explored that.”

  5. “Cheap Sunglasses”

    Listen to it when you’re feeling: “ready to make a TikTok dance.”

    Key lyric: “This is why I can’t have nice things / ‘Cause I break ‘em”

    “We started the session and one of the writers looked at the table and saw this pair of expensive sunglasses that the producer had. And he was like, ‘Dude, I was going to buy these. They were in my cart and I just couldn’t push the button because every time I buy a new pair of sunglasses, I always lose them.’ And then we just spit it out. We found this whole deeper side of it where we related it to how I always mess up relationships.”

  6. “Learning How to Love”

    Listen to it when you’re feeling: like “a work in progress. I’m always going to be a work in progress.”

    Key lyric: “Baby, you’re perfect / But I can’t say the same for me”

    “I feel like it might be the dark horse of the record. I take some time away from it and then I listen to it again and I’m just like, wow, this is pretty dope. There’s a lot of growth throughout the record. It starts off very stripped and really, really grows into something where in, that final chorus, we tried to really go somewhere.”

  7. “Happiness”

    Listen to it when you’re feeling: “sad. It’s okay to not be okay.”

    Key lyric: “I feel like my daydreams are nightmares / I feel like a prisoner in my head, yeah”

    “We used to do this thing, a big group of friends, and we called it the song game. We would basically give each other homework and we had to turn in an idea, whether it be a voice note, a fully produced song, or calling them on the phone and just saying something into it. Just as long as you were creative in some way. We would set a theme on Monday and the next Sunday something was due. One week it was ‘happy.’ So that song came out of the song game.”

  8. “Days Like This”

    Listen to it when you’re feeling: “a hopeful, summer-day kind of mood.”

    Key lyric: “’Cause days like this, make me wish / We had more days like this, oh yeah”

    “We wrote that one in quarantine, so we were exploring how to write songs via Zoom. I got on with some friends and we were just talking about how we missed all the things we used to take for granted. We can’t be together. We can’t write. We can’t go to the beach. The only goal for that day was to write about better times. Let’s write about what we wish we could do and keep it super lighthearted and fun and upbeat.”

  9. “I.L.Y.M.

    Listen to it when you’re feeling: “in love, just all things love.”

    Key lyric: “I’m not sayin’ it’s a competition / All I’m saying is”

    “The melody feels like it could be a wedding song… Once we made that connection, it was the chance to just truly dive into a message that I could give to my wife that she would have forever. If there’s ever a bad day or something that we go through, she can listen to a record that says everything that I wish I could say over and over again. It’s almost like a pact that you can listen to.”

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