From Voice Memo to Song of the Summer: How ‘Sunroof’ Conquered Radio

·4 min read

“Sunroof” is capping off the summer as a No. 1 song on radio’s Top 40 format.

The pop song that could started out as a rough voice memo from newcomer Nicky Youre, sent to equally green producer Dazy, and went on to become ubiquitous after catching fire on TikTok. From there, “Sunroof” cracked the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 (it’s currently at No. 6 and climbing) and, this week, leads Top 40 radio ahead of two Harry Styles songs.

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“We didn’t really have anything going for us at the time,” Youre, 23, says. “Dazy had taken two years off and I hadn’t dropped anything for over a year.” The Orange County singer-songwriter, who had only released one song prior, started sending the producer voice memos and eventually conjured the “Sunroof” hook while fighting off a throat infection. “I was sick the day I wrote it, I just wanted to feel happy and good.”

Dazy, aka Nick Minutaglio, still remembers the first time he heard it. “Nicky sent me just a straight-up shitty voice memo,” he laughs. But there was something there, and he got to work. ”I did a really quick production over it,” the producer says. “Just guitars and drums.” Nicky liked what he heard and they spent the next four months sending it back and forth, going through 22 versions before arriving at the final product.

“We both knew that it was special,” Youre says, “but I never thought it would do what it’s done.” He was still using his debut single, “Sex and Lemonade,” as a measuring stick. “I had one song out and it had done 500,000 streams and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do that again.” Dazy’s expectations were similarly modest. “We knew it was a cool idea, but we didn’t think it was a smash hit.”

“Sunroof” has amassed more than 250 million Spotify streams in its march up the Billboard and radio charts. The latter is a major coup for Columbia Records, who is already having a massive 2022 thanks to Beyoncé and Styles. “Our approach is consistent — identify hits, verify hits, then amplify hits with radio support,” Brady Bedard, Columbia Records senior VP of pop promotion, tells Variety. “We were thrilled when we reached No. 1.”

In fact, Columbia currently lays claim to the entire top 3 at Top 40 radio with “Sunroof” and Styles’ “As It Was” and “Late Night Talking.” “Holding 1, 2 and 3 on the pop chart happens pretty rarely, so it’s always special when we do it,” adds Bedard. “We’re always aiming to do two things: break new artists and elevate the careers of superstars. Doing both simultaneously is a meaningful and memorable accomplishment.”

While “Sunroof” is still gaining momentum, Youre is already thinking about what comes next. “I’ve been nervous about trying to find the next song,” he admits. “I just realized over the last couple months that I gotta do me, and whatever happens, happens.” While Youre is honing his craft and embracing pop stardom, Dazy is taking a different approach. “My focus going forward is going to be more in the role of a producer,” he says.

“That’s just something that I gravitate towards,” he continues. “In terms of being a forward-facing artist, it definitely interests me, but maybe in the future.” At present, he’s just making the most of the momentum. “I’m just trying to make the most of the opportunity and get into rooms and sessions with a lot of people that I couldn’t have worked with before.”

There’s also the possibility of another collaboration with Youre. “We have one more song that we’re really stoked about,” Dazy reveals. “It’s done and pretty much ready to go, we just have to wait for the right time to release it.”

The bar for the followup is set extremely high. According to Columbia’s Bedard, “Sunroof” is a rare example of “a perfectly crafted pop song meeting a moment.”

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