Just call Ali Gatie a singing savant for the social media set. The 22-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter burst onto the scene last year with his snappy debut single, “It’s You,” which racked up a combined 125 million views on YouTube, and his latest song has already conjured up some pretty impressive numbers — before it’s even been officially released.
Gatie teased a 10-second clip of “What If I Told You That I Love You” last month on his Instagram (follower count: 1.2 million), and the snippet quickly went viral on TikTok (follower count: 786,000). Stats from the video-sharing site reveal more than 580,000 user creations just from that 10-second clip alone, most of them featuring overly earnest guys and girls professing their feelings for an unrequited love. Even more staggering: The engagement around Gatie’s “What If” posts on TikTok hit almost 26 million combined views.
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In short: Gatie seems to have set up the makings of a smash just on social alone.
That’s taking nothing away from the song itself, which is a breezy, springtime-fresh midtempo track, with Gatie’s sparkling vocals caressing the sparse beat from producers DannyBoyStyles (Meek Mill, Beyoncé, The Weeknd) and Sam Wish, who worked with Gatie on the singer’s debut EP, You.
Sounding like a young John Legend mixed with Frank Ocean’s flair and finesse, Gatie’s delivery on the track is surprisingly poignant for a guy who still tweets about his love for Billie Eilish and hot Cheetos on Twitter (follower count: 329,000).
“Everyone’s been in that situation where they weren’t sure if they should confess their feelings or keep it to themselves, and most of the time you regret not saying how you feel,” Gatie tells Rolling Stone about the inspiration behind the track. “That’s why I wrote the song.”
For Gatie, who was born to Iraqi parents and raised in Toronto, the song has also taken on new meaning for him, in light of recent political and social turmoil in the Middle East. “I make songs that the whole world can relate to,” he says. “And when you hear my song you don’t think, ‘He’s Arab or he’s black or he’s white’; you just love the music. Stuff like that helps bring us together,” he continues, adding, “We are all more similar than we are different. We all just have to choose love.”
Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.
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