“I always felt it had something special”

Miguel has spoken to NME about scoring his first-ever UK Top 10 with his 2011 single ‘Sure Thing’, following the track’s recent resurgence on TikTok.

In January, Miguel shared a video of himself performing an acoustic version of the track, writing in the caption: “YOU GUYS GOT ME CHARTING BEFORE I GET THIS NEW ONE OFF ! APPRECIATE ALL THE LOVE FOR SURE THING.”

‘Sure Thing’, the second single from Miguel’s 2010 debut studio album ‘All I Want Is You’, has so far been used in over four million videos on TikTok – resulting in the track shooting up the charts in the US as well as the UK.

“‘Sure Thing’ had been one of the songs that I always felt had something special,” Miguel told NME. “I was a struggling artist here in LA, not making any money but trying to get on however I could. Writing was one of the things allowing me to get into rooms and to start writing for artists but I had no real placements at the time.”

The track was originally written in 2007 and almost made it onto Usher‘s fifth studio album ‘Here I Stand’, after the singer showed an interest. Instead of giving the track to Usher though, Mark Pitts – the now-President of RCA Records – flew Miguel out to New York and signed him to Jive Records, which eventually became part of RCA. “That was the reason I really got in through the door and then it was the songs around that that kind of solidified it.”

When ‘Sure Thing’ started gaining momentum earlier this year, it was the same Mark Pitts that broke the news to Miguel. Speaking of how he found out about its viral success, he explained: “Mark lives on the East Coast and he called me at three in the morning and was like, ‘Man, look at your phone. I’m sending you all this data. Do you understand what’s going on?’ I had been in the studio working until late so I had no clue what he was talking about.”

Miguel continued: “He told me TikTok was going crazy and he explained that there had been songs absolutely seeing big moments on there and apparently ‘Sure Thing’ had been really gaining momentum, which was translating into record sales. So that was the reason for his excitement – not only was the song streaming, and going crazy, but the song and my first album were being purchased because of it. It was affecting album sales, which is wild.”

TikTok has been responsible for numerous often decades-old tracks re-entering the charts in recent times, with mostly Gen-Z users coming across artists via trending videos. Thanks to its placement in Stranger Things season four, Kate Bush’s 1985 classic ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)’, for example, enjoyed a resurgence and heavy use on the platform in 2022. Elsewhere, Reggae metal band Skindred became unexpected TikTok stars last month after their 2005 song ‘Nobody’ sparked a new dance trend on the social media platform.

When asked about TikTok and the music industry’s increased focus on the platform, Miguel admitted he was initially critical, but added: “In the beginning, for music videos, I’m sure there was a lot of people who were not into it. It was a new medium, and it was really a reason to market music. TikTok is absolutely more than that but I think, essentially, it’s a tool that can serve that purpose and it obviously has a tremendous amount of leverage.”

He continued: “I mean, ‘Sure Thing’ came out when MySpace was everything. ‘Sure Thing’ blew up on MySpace first and that was actually a big part of me getting signed as well. So it’s just a trip to see how art and expression, especially combined with technology, can really be powerful and have new lives. It’s beautiful.”

On his own use of TikTok and what his ‘For You’ page currently looks like, Miguel told NME that he usually gets caught up on a few specific things: “Cooking recipes that I’ll never actually execute, and then anything that has to do with UFOs and UAPs,” he said. “Oh, and stuff about binaural sync and quantum jumping. I have two cats so I always end up seeing a few cat ones too, which is the best really.”

The recent success of ‘Sure Thing’ on TikTok has resulted in Miguel’s imminent plans being brought forward, but he is excited despite the added pressure. “It’s definitely accelerated a lot,” he said. “There was already something being planned. But it’s a lot more now. We’ve got dates that are at least three months sooner than originally intended. So yeah, it’s definitely added a good amount of pressure, but I feel good under pressure. I take it as a sign, and I believe in signs.”

Miguel’s last studio album was 2017’s ‘War & Leisure’, which included the single ‘Sky Walker’ with Travis Scott. Months after the release, he announced he was working on a Spanish project and this came in the form of EP ‘Te Lo Dije’ in 2019, which was a reissue of ‘War & Leisure’, featuring five tracks from the album recorded in Spanish.

His last release was the ‘Art Dealer Chic 4’ EP, which arrived in April 2021, but last year Miguel teamed up with Diplo on ‘Don’t Forget My Love’, the first single from Diplo’s new self-titled album.

While on a musical hiatus, Miguel kept busy working on a host of projects beyond music, including mental health advocacy. He also made an appearance on The Drop last year, a BBC show about streetwear, where he served as one of two mentors overseeing the contestants’ efforts.

Though no official details about any upcoming releases have been announced, Miguel did tease some new music on his Instagram earlier this month. Speaking of his upcoming new material, Miguel said that “emotionality in music” was one of his core aims in terms of what he wanted listeners to take away.

“The function of art is to connect people through the emotional quality in the work, that’s why I can hear a song in a completely different language and still, my eyes can well up with tears,” he said. “Or why someone from a completely different walk of life can look at a painting from someone on the other side of the world and fall in love with it.”

Miguel added: “It’s the emotional quality that gives it its value. And it reminds us that we’re human, and that we’re not different. And that’s the exciting thing about what’s coming – I feel it’s deeply emotional.

“It’s violent, it’s exciting, it’s beautiful, it’s scary, it’s dark, and it’s heartbreaking – but it’s all the things I feel we’re seeing in the world and in the unknown of every day. I’ve been working really hard to capture that and that’s what I’m excited to get to my fans.”

Miguel will be performing at Lovers & Friends in Las Vegas on Saturday May 6 alongside Missy Elliott, Pitbull, Mariah Carey, Usher, Christina Aguilera and many more. Visit here for tickets and more information.

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