We may have been just a bit surprised by Josh Cullen's role in the 2022 single, 'Sofa Remix', but that's nothing compared to the confirmed shock of his proper debut. 'Wild Tonight' is a tour-de-force of everything that makes him Josh Cullen. We were a bit speechless at first, but we're ready to talk now.
A New Side to SB19's Lead Rapper
Despite being voted in 2020 as the Sexiest Man in the Philippines, the first thing that demands attention in 'Wild Tonight' isn't Josh Cullen's visuals - it's the music. With his debut single, he delves into a genre that's all his own. Bridging EDM, Pop, and R&B, 'Wild Tonight' is a dance track unlike any that the artist has explored before with his P-Pop group, SB19.
"I thought of it - I envisioned it as something that I, as a listener, can enjoy every time I party. But, at the same time, there's a heavy flavor of rap." -Josh Cullen (translated from Tagalog)
Highly involved in the creation of his art, Josh worked with his cousin, Ace Santos, better known as Ocho the Bullet. Of course, Ace is an artist in his own right - having written, produced, and composed 8 tracks under 3x Records, and collaborated with Josh on a remix of his most replayed track, 'Sofa'. Despite his previous experience as a writer and producer, ‘Wild Tonight’ was a new challenge for Ace. Josh was highly active in the song's production, composition, and creation, and Ace admits this track was a bit of a challenge, having never done an EDM-based track before.
"[...] this is very different. Josh was like, 'I want a song that goes in clubs, Man.' And I was like, 'I've never made one of those before.'" -Ace Santos
'Wild Tonight' shines a spotlight on Josh Cullen, defining and expanding the roles his fans, the BBQ, have become familiar with. Unquestionably the lead rapper of SB19, Josh Cullen, is hard at work proving himself as a rising vocalist as well. His unique blend of rap and singing to a club beat makes for a surprisingly danceable track. While the song itself is undeniably a "Josh Cullen track," it's a surprise introduction to the casual listener with its not-so-subtle invitation to get up and move.
Josh Cullen Across the Eras
Leaning into the happy accident of his second name, he’s turned a running joke with SB19's fans (A'tin) about his inability to age and his vampire good looks, into an unbelievably strong concept for his debut music video.
The concept of 'Wild Tonight' comes alive with the music video, and it's clear Josh knew exactly what he was doing. Leaning into the happy accident of his second name, he’s turned a running joke with SB19's fans (A'tin) about his inability to age and his vampire good looks, into an unbelievably strong concept for his debut music video. The opening beat lends the feel of a heartbeat - like the introduction to a movie or video game. Meanwhile, the story of a vampire king crossing the ages from the Victorian Era to the modern club scene is a role that plays well off his own charisma and unofficial status as spokesman of SB19. Given the MV's theme of the vampire king first charming and then turning his haters into loyal followers, it seems pulled directly from his real-life experiences. Filmed in part at Palacio de Memoria, a beautifully-restored historic home in the older part of Parañaque in Metro Manila, the video exudes the opulence appropriate to its theme - including inside the restored private jets on the property.
“He brought forward his own sensuality and charisma without sacrificing what makes him unique and becoming a caricature of himself."
The music video has also gathered significant attention for its intense and seductive choreography, which blends well with the overall concept. Head choreographer AJ Rances worked to create a visual experience that evokes the raw sexuality and control of Josh's character. Perhaps most surprising was the rise of his lead dancers. Beside him at nearly every step of the music video, the two dancers match him in skill and energy at every turn. In particular, Swaggy has gained significant attention among Josh's fans (BBQ). She's even begun amassing a fanbase of her own, Swaggers Official, who cheered her on when she also performed as a solo act at PPOPCOM2023 as a dancer.
It would have been enough for Josh Cullen's debut single to be any one of the things it became. It's well-written and researched, evocative, and executed near perfection. It celebrates his unique bond with A'tin and his BBQs, all while setting a new standard for promoting and developing a solo debut. He brought forward his own sensuality and charisma without sacrificing what makes him unique and becoming a caricature of himself. Most importantly, however, 'Wild Tonight' celebrates Josh Cullen as an artist coming into his own at last.