Alaina Castillo is the bilingual pop star demanding your attention
Jon Ali is In The Know’s music contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more.
Get up! It’s time for you to get familiar with Alaina Castillo.
At the age of 19, the Houston, Texas native has already accomplished what most adults consider to be a teenage dream: racking up tens of millions of streams around the world with an array of English and Spanish bops. Just in the past 6 months, she has grossed over 1.7 million followers on TikTok and more than 860K YouTube subscribers.
That’s right, Alaina Castillo is a bilingual star on the rise. The kids sure are proving the grown-ups wrong lately, aren’t they?
Born to a Mexican father and an American mother, Castillo first discovered her gift for singing in her family church’s choir in League City, a suburb of Houston. Her rise wasn’t an overnight thing. Rather, it’s been strategically planned on her end from the jump: “I used to have this whole set up for the videos I was gonna post and the covers, what days, everything like that,” she recently explained in an interview. When she noticed that ASMR was taking off on YouTube, Alaina decided to pursue the trend with her own take on it. “I wanted to find a way to turn that into something that I was doing,” she added, “So I thought, what about lullaby a capella singing, sing-you-to-sleep vibes?”
In one of her first videos, titled “Sing You to Sleep,” she soothes her audience with whisper-heavy renditions of Billie Eilish songs. “I hope you’re in a nice little sleepy land and dreaming of cookies,” she whispers while tapping her fingernails on her iPhone case, before adding with a smirk: “and tacos from Taco Bell.”
ASMR was just the launching pad. From there, Alaina began posting original songs and covers on her video channel. In a matter of months, she accumulated thousands of subscribers and caught the attention of management group Fine Group Entertainment. She began flying out to Los Angeles on a monthly basis, where she eventually got set up with RØMANS — an acclaimed songwriter-producer best known for being the mastermind behind hits from pop stars like Demi Levato, Khalid, Ella Mai and Clean Bandit. From there, her career was set for success.
RØMANS went on to produce Alaina’s debut EP in 2019, Antisocial Butterfly, which showcased her ability to weave beautifully between her two languages, English and Spanish. The album’s hit single, “i don’t think i love you anymore,” raked in more than 3 million streams on Spotify and paved the way for the singles that followed like “papacito,” “ocean waves” and “just a boy.”
Her music is endlessly re-playable yet not limited to one genre — it’s chill, moody, hypnotic, infectious and innovative and a little sexy-sad all at once. Therefore, it’s no surprise that she’s gained support from Spotify’s new program RADAR: an international artist development program dedicated to rising musical talents across 50 different countries. As the sole representative from the United States, Castillo will receive a dedicated marketing effort from Spotify, including a mini-documentary, a show on YouTube’s emerging artist channel COLORS and a series of Spotify Singles recordings.
Even the challenging year that is 2020 couldn’t slow Alaina’s rise down. She’s kept us plenty fed this year with the release of an EP, the voicenotes (available in English and in Spanish, naturally), as well as her antisocial party anthem “tonight,” another transitional song for Alaina that has amassed over 2.2 million streams across platforms and over 600K views on the music video to date.
Her latest single “!Párate!,” released on October 28, continues to demand your full attention and make proper moves for her — literally, it translates to “stand up.”
It’s an all-too-appropriate mood anthem fitting for 2020 — it talks about a change or a movement that comes out of trying to overcome uncontrollable challenges. Basically, even without intending to make a statement for this year, she totally is.
“‘!Párate!’’ is a song that talks about overcoming challenges that you would usually want to avoid,” Alaina said in a statement about the song. “For the music video, I wanted it to have a dark feel to it to as if you’re struggling in those moments of the song but then also incorporate little essences of beauty to remind us that we have to go through those dark moments in order to really appreciate any small amount of happiness or beauty we can get.”
The banger of a song came with a video that serves as another example of Alaina’s vast versatility by bending genres while enforcing her Latin roots. As long as she keeps the bops coming, there’s no reason for us to sleep on Alaina Castillo. Stand up and get familiar — now!
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