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stop the hate: bars and melody – bam

There is currently much talk about the digital age. I discovered a cultural meaning while surfing through the universe of Youtube. I was looking for bullying attention grabbing pop culture and found what I wanted to do with “Britain Got Talent” in 2014. I was able to make a personal impression of the duo „Bars and Melody – BAM“ here in the german capital in January 2018.

The Beginning: Hopefull & Golden Buzzer

In this video, the first big TV appearance at BGT is fully documented and the time invested (8 min) illustrates the live process to success. But there is also a short Golden Buzzer version. Two years later, the duo analyzes this pop-cultural founding myth piece by piece in three video blogs I (II, III, a 4-5 min).

The juror Simon Cowell has the two English guys Leondre DeVries (aka BARS, * 2000) and Charlie Lenehan (aka MELODY, * 1998) as duo “bars and melody – bam” within 8 minutes of airing with their melodic anti-bullying rapsong “Hopefull ” made known worldwide in 2014. The successfully presented song is based on lyrics and music from Twista’s song “Hope”, featuring Faith Evans from 2005. Leondre updated the song in 2014 with texts about his bullying experiences in his own elementary school in Wales and Charlie sings a melodic chorus part. The audience and the jury at BGT were equally enthusiastic and touched by the performance of the duo. The track was released on 25 July 2014 by Syco Music, on Youtube the music video has been clicked on over 100 million times – and the trend is rising.

How is it, that two teenagers with the bullying and be attacked and stolen issue change from the middle school to the big music business?

Leondre DeVries reports the following in several interviews. In 2013, he became aware of Charlie’s music videos through a friend via Facebook. He contacted him via FB and Charlie liked the Rapsongs of Leondre – this time still under the stage name Little-Dre on the way – also. In 2013 they lived a couple of hours by car. At first they got to know and appreciate each other virtually and later face-to-face in real life. A musically founded collaboration took its course. From then on, they tried together and produced. In short: Cultural work was carried out from the child’s room in Wales. Leo’s father then made contacts to London and the two got to know the music business in the capital.
The application to BGT was supported by the families of the two musicians, even if Leo’s father later came into dispute with the producers of Syco Music on the marketing strategies – allegations of congestion and copyright issues about the successful rap text were mentioned in this context. The Hopefull single was successful in the UK, USA and Japan. On the European mainland, Bars and Melody also have a reliable and growing fanbase.

Social Media

The pivotal point is the Youtube channel, the number of participants has exceeded the two million mark on 22.02.18 (UPDATE: “Bars and Melody OFFICIAL” on 10.07.18 at 18:22 with 3,000,111 subscribers).  Every day about 1000 new people are added. Here, the duo regularly provides material for the fan base (Bambinos) and the wider public. More sources: Instagram + Facebook.
In several categories there are information from the artistic life, own music productions, many cover versions, reports of tour experiences or simply entertaining quiz and Q + A videos published. In the 34 tracks on three CD’s published cover versions of known pop songs are interpreted. Covers I, II, III



The song selection also includes Farewell (Hello by Adele) and Suicide (In The End by Linkin Park RIP CHESTER BENNINGTON !!!). The new juror of “Voice of America” Kelly Clarkson was also greeted by BAM from England / Wales with a cover version of her title “Medicine” in the talent show 2018 a few weeks ago. Kelly Clarkson is an early discovery by Simon Cowell, now producing under one roof with Ed Sheeran at Atlantic / Warner Music.
My absolute fave-video is the fake break-in at the BAM- merchandise dealer: The swivel chair fight with the broom handles and the subsequent swivel chair jump from the desk bring me to completely new ideas for using my office equipment.
Based on the material provided, it is easy to understand the duo’s almost five-year artistic and content development.

In terms of content, in-house productions deal with important areas of adolescent ontology. Love, crises and the often difficult communication with the current counterpart find adequate textual addressing with R&B, electric and hip hop beats. With a little bit of life experience, everyone knows that in principle the topics do not fundamentally change in the further course of life – apart from the rattle about the money,topics of ontological referral often remain that way. With a little practice and a willingness to self-awareness, you will develop a better hand in dealing with the most common cliffs of being together.
Basically, the duo propagates positive future prospects. Aspirations for autonomy, merger concepts and partnering ideas are sensibly contrasted and weighed. Fortunately, the devaluation against third parties, which is still often encountered in rap, does not find a basis for the two guys. Kindness and supportive behavior are the essential attitude.


Another cultural reading has been shown in school life in Norfolk in 2015. Here, students were excluded from the subject because they wore hairstyles that the director did not fit into his rules. With the unspeakable school uniform the state intervention in the self-determination of the students should actually be limited. Through enraged parents on Facebook this form of disciplining / bullying penetrated into the public, the hair style got the label “meet me at mc donalds haircut“. Leondre and Charlie have documented with their hairstyles a pop-cultural normality that can also work in the classroom.

A bigger picture

If I understood Leondre’s narrative correctly, he was able to use traumatic experiences in school trips with the peer group to find a constructive way out with the help of text writing and rap/hip-hop. With the further development to a pop star as a duo, he could present his message to a broad audience. In the search for contact with fans and their life stories. From a formerly almost helpless victim figure he becomes a self-consciously acting subject with a strong influence on youth and adult culture It should not be forgotten that most of the audiance at BGT were adults who immediately understood the duos message and they were rewarded with standing ovation. The public has loudly demanded the Golden Buzzer from the jury.

Even dark ways can be trodden from a powerlessness experience after mental damage. In germany it was possible to study the biography of Robert Steinhäuser from Erfurt some years ago. He shot students and teachers of his former school and then killed himself with the gun. In Florida, a public campaign “Stop the killings!” has recently been launched by students across the US as a result of a similar assassination attempt. It has been kicked around the gun right debate. If damaged people have damaged others, then at the latest there is an acute need for action. But prevention would have been better.
I fear that many victims of bullying give up, lose themselves in depression or addiction, are isolated mostly hopeless from their attacks. It really does go wrong when balanced and your own life is considered failed. Who survives that, gets into the hands of the professionals at the latest. A very wide field.

The founding myth of BAM, the “Hopefull” performance, stands in this context like a solitary lighthouse stuck in the vast ocean of pop culture.


bam GenZ CDSigned_306xIn the current album „Generation-Z“, I see great potential for the two of them to be able to get beyond the target group developed to this day. Not because they want to be the mouthpiece of the people born around the year 2000. Rather, a consistent combination of hip hop culture and classical singing culture can be observed in the practice laboratory of pop culture at work. The path of projection to the two singers can save time for those people who feel alone in their crises. A communication room can be re-opened via new contacts as part of the fan base and the associated virtual contact activities. That seems to me to be an important social function of the duo’s internet presence on Youtube.
Of course it’s also about the business. This is happening live on stage, on the band’s homepage or on Spotify and i-tunes. Equally important to me, however, is the ethical attitude with which the cultural product is offered and implemented. Incidentally, their music is not found in the big record stores. After all, even Zayn Malyk and Harry Styles have sung to the shelves. One-Direction was also in 2010 a discovery of Simon Cowell with a new and very successful boyband image – all 5 singers are now pursuing their solo careers in the entertainment business.

Duo,a rare thing

With BAM, a new content line was brought to the market, which is further developed by the artists themselves on the use of social media and tour work. The duo format is a rare orchid in contemporary pop music history. More widespread are limited partnerships for a song, a record or maybe even a tour.

After five years of continuous rap and vocal collaboration, I hope that Bars & Melody will have a solid working relationship.The productions to this day allow for this hope. There is a lot of work to do to bring this energy across to the adult world.

It does not matter if rap and vocals alternate, sing solo or both voices in a duet, there is always something new delivered. The two continue to evolve, engage their fans and hopefully live well from their cultural work. In 2017/18 they toured across europe from Poland to Greece / Athens with their new album “Generation-Z” –  Album-Review Muziekspeaks 2017  “… There is a certain mixtape quality to the record – it is somewhat experimental in its approach, but that’s not a bad thing! ….”. UPDATE: Choke-Tour 2019

The esthete enjoys only the art performance, the weary and loaded are reflected in the text and role model and go new ways. With meets, greets, hugs, hip, hop and good performance, the project should continue to work well. I have now been brought back to the sky of pop music on the more serious issues of bullying. The two of them have already given me a lot of pleasure with their projects.


PS 1: I also think about the two concerts of Ariana Grande in Manchester last year. The decision to go to a pop concert did not become easier after the suicide bombing. The benefit concert “one love manchester” in the stadium was an important symbol against fear and hatred. I am very grateful to all supporters of this mega-project till today. The raves connect me to Manchester in the late 80s.

PS 2: The global format of social media talent shows opens new avenues for success for artists. The spectators also have opportunities to participate beyond the broadcasting phase of TV shows. And above all, the artist’s backgrounds can be comprehensively carried out in social media. I try to understand the contents and techniques of this multimedia presentation. I can not imagine a life without music and friends.

Berlin, 04.03.2018  (latest update 20th November 2018)


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