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Boombox Blitz: Harrison Wheeler swirls on ‘Dream’

Welcome to Boombox Blitz, an artist spotlight series showcasing overlooked singers, songwriters and musicians who are quietly taking over the world.

Black Mirror‘s uncharacteristically sweet and sappy “San Junipero” episode stands as one of 2016’s finest hours of television. Centering on the tender romance between the quirky, “new” girl Yorkie (played by Mackenzie Davis) and the townie regular Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the story unfolds much like many of the classic cinema pictures of the ’80s; think Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club–but with a deliciously sci-fi twist. Well, all you can do now, really, is hop right on over to Netflix and see for yourself (there will be only happy tears, naturally).

But in the meantime: Nashville-based singer-songwriter Harrison Wheeler–who is among a slew of other major pop movers shaking up the city with synth-pop bangers and to-die-for hooks–has penned a heartfelt downtempo jam, his opus, if you will, surrounding the mystical, intoxicating cityscape by the sea shore Black Mirror details so marvelously. More specifically, “Dream” details an unbridle love affair and that rush of adrenaline which shoots like an arrow through your veins. There’s that instant connection, mimicked on the track by the thumping percussion and even the stark use of piano (particularly on the bridge): he revels in its glow, capturing the very spirit and exuberance of the ’80s. Before all else, Wheeler makes you feel something.

If Wheeler’s name sounds familiar, that’s because it is (or it should be). He competed on American Idol in 2015 and 2016. The first time around, he was eliminated during Hollywood Week, and last year, he made it to the Top 24. Anyone else remember his killer version of “Bennie and the Jets” with season 11 standout Haley Reinhart? And then the blood-curdling rage of his tragically-early ouster? Such a shame he never made it further. But living in Nashville, he has since been able to nurture his talent. “Dream” is just scratching the surface of his potential. Good thing a pop revolution is surging through the city right now, unmistakably free of the chains of Music Row–because who really needs that in 2017? Such acts as My Red + Blue, Dalton Diehl, Jake McMullen, Annalia and Mags Duval are just a handful of other singers, songwriters and musicians who are kicking ass and taking names without the help of a major.

“Dream” follows the previous release of “Make Up Your Mind,” which sits in the soul-rock wheelhouse akin to Shovels & Rope and Avett Brothers.

Wheeler’s next song “Vacation” is slated to drop June 20.

“Dream” is out now on iTunes, and you can spin it below, via Spotify:

Follow Wheeler on his socials: Twitter | Facebook

Jason Scott

Editor-in-Chief of the Badlands, spinning those B-Sides. Love Parks & Rec. Addicted to high-priced coffee drinks, alt-country and synth-pop, and never know when to quit. Got a cat named Jake--and she doesn't like you very much.