Is Becky Hill Pop’s Biggest Unknown Star
Last month, as part of Radio 1’s virtual Big Weekend festival, Becky Hill installed a microphone in her bedroom and belted out a medley of flawless club classics.
Among them were chart-toppers like Gecko (Overdrive), the summer anthem I Wish You Well, and the platinum-selling Lose Control.
For a lot of listeners it was an lightbulb moment, as they figured out Hill was the voice behind some of the biggest hits of the 2010s.
“I heard all these songs so many times but never realised,” wrote a typical user under a YouTube video of her performance. “Becky’s voice is absolutely brilliant.”
The 26-year-old is getting used to that reaction. On tour with The Script earlier this year, she witnessed the audience having the same epiphany every night.
“I’d come on stage and half-way through my set I’d go, ‘How many of you didn’t know who I was by my name?’ and I’d see an array of hands,” she says.
“Then I’d say, ‘How many of you knew me after you heard the music?’ and they’d all keep their hands up!
“It’s so nice to see them click, singing all the words and going, ‘I didn’t know that was you!'”
Hill started her career on the first UK series of The Voice in 2012, reaching the semi-final. But when the programme turned out to be hopeless at launching people’s careers, she became a songwriter for hire, writing and recording hits for producers like Oliver Heldens, Sigala and Jax Jones, all while holding down a bar job in her home town of Bewdley.
A record deal with Parlophone produced a couple of EPs and the criminally underrated single Losing – but ultimately failed to pan out.
Since 2017, she’s been signed to Polydor where, in addition to touring with Pete Tong’s Ibiza Classics show, she recently scored her first hit single under her own name, the defiantly upbeat Better Off Without You.
She’s following that up this week with a new, house-inspired single Heaven On My Mind, and the launch of her “Art Of Rave” podcast.
Hill sat down with the BBC to talk about those projects, her “freakishly strong” arms and why many artists are afraid to speak badly of Spotify.
Hi Becky, how are things?
I’m good, thanks. I had my first personal training session this morning. I’m trying to get back out into the bikini sunshine before it’s Christmas.
How did it go?
Not bad. We’re trying to build up my strength again. I think I’m my trainer’s example student because he tells all his clients I’m really freakishly strong.
What makes you freakishly strong?
Weight training and a good genetic make-up! But I do suffer from having a protruding belly if I don’t work out so we’re back on it after the lockdown.
Were you, like everyone else, just snacking on biscuits the whole time?
Yes, eating non-stop. I can’t cook either, so my boyfriend was cooking for me every single day. He was knocking up salmon joints and turkey roasts… I think he was trying to get me to stay with him through the lockdown. And it worked.
No! We’ve kind of come back together and sort of sorted things out.
I’ve actually written a lot of songs about him. Sunrise In The East was about me and him staying up all night talking; I Could Get Used To This was written just before our fourth date, and it was about stepping into a new relationship; and then obviously Wish You Well and Better Off Without You happened when we had the break-up.
Not to put any pressure on the situation, but if you ended up getting married, would you play I Could Get Used To This at the wedding?
Hell no! Can you imagine dancing to your own tune at your own wedding? I wish I was that up my own arse, but I’m not unfortunately.
Your new single Heaven On My Mind is a proper dancing-in-a-field summer anthem. Is it strange to be releasing it in a year when all the festivals are cancelled?
Yeah, it’s a very weird time, but I’m hoping people are listening in their gardens and still enjoying the summer music vibes.
What was the inspiration for this one?
It was actually sent to me as a fully-formed song [then] me and my best friend MNEK rewrote the verses and added the crowd chanting at the end.
What attracted you to the song?
Last year was quite a dark year for me. My granddad got liver cancer and died. My mum was nursing him and she got alopecia because of stress. Then my nana, who’s got dementia, had a fall and my mum had to move her into a care home. On top of that, I moved house, I had a relationship break-up, and me and my housemate fell out.
So Heaven On My Mind is a song I would never have thought about writing. But I really loved the concept knowing there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I think that was a really strong message for me last year.
Is Becky Hill Pop’s Biggest Unknown Star