If you’ve frequented virtually any music-related corner of the internet over the past few years, you’ve likely seen and heard ALEX MELTON. The Florence, SC-based multi-instrumentalist has gone viral more than just a few times for his genre-bending covers, flipping rock, pop, and country songs from Taylor Swift, blink-182 and Third Eye Blind on their heads and reimagining them in completely new ways – to the tune of more than 300,000 YouTube subscribers and 25 million video views since 2012.
“It’s that old quote: Good artists borrow, but great artists steal,” says Melton with a laugh. But there’s nothing larcenous about the way he approaches his covers. Melton understands the art of songwriting at an intimate level, having pored over music theory and arrangement intricacies from his high school days through college classes.
This dedication to breaking down the intrinsic quality of great songs is what gives his debut Pure Noise album, SOUTHERN CHARM, such a compelling, shapeshifting identity. Split into two halves – amped-up versions of country classics and his trademark “y’allternative” spin on punk and metal tracks – Southern Charm synthesizes all of Melton’s influences, from the country staples played on a loop in his childhood home through scene icons like blink-182, The Starting Line, A Day to Remember and Four Year Strong.
Omit the original artist names, and Melton’s spin on Tim McGraw’s nostalgic “Something Like That” (ft. Ryan Scott Graham) could pass as the pop-punk anthem of the summer, while the buzzsaw guitars and double-bass breakdowns of Luke Combs’ “Beer Never Broke My Heart” and Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places” would be instant pit-starters in a past life’s Warped Tour parking lot. On the flip side, Melton uses his rich musical sensibilities to rein in caustin offerings from The Story So Far (“Quicksand”), The Amity Affliction (“Soak Me In Bleach”) and Stick To Your Guns (“Married To The Noise”), reimagining and elevating their hidden melodicism with gorgeous harmonies, acoustic guitars, lap steel, and mandolin.
Proficient on drums, guitar, bass, keyboards, and trumpet, Melton typically produces all of his YouTube covers at his home studio, a testament to his insatiable desire for knowledge and self-improvement – and a snapshot of how far he’s come as an artist and recording engineer throughout the years. “All of the technology has changed so much since I first started,” he says, noting his first video was a pop-punk cover of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” “I started with a Home Recording for Dummies book and an original GoPro, which at the time was the cheapest way to get HD footage on YouTube.”
Now armed with vastly more knowledge and resources, Southern Charm finds him working with outside producers for the first time, bringing in Tom Denney (A Day to Remember, who helmed the rock-based country covers) and Alan Day (Four Year Strong, who produced the country-based rock songs) to offer new perspective and add a level of vision and cohesion to the project.
“I pride myself on not having one singular sound every time I do something,” he says. “But at the same time, you want it to have some type of through line, something that you could call my style or voice. We had a lot of fun taking all my influences, mixing them around, and then spitting out a new version of them all.”
Melton is, in many ways, the perfect type of artist for this post-genre time, bringing a melting pot of musical styles to a playlist culture with far fewer gatekeepers than times past. Whether he’s uncovering the inherent sadness behind Hanson’s “MMMBop” through a reimagined emo update or showcasing the idiosyncratic musical tendencies of famous drummers and bassists, Melton’s music is proof that a great song is a great song – regardless of genre.
Ultimately, his covers are more than just viral sensations; they’re illuminatory examples of the power of songwriting, how seemingly subtle shifts in genre, tempo, and arrangement can transform the way we think about and enjoy music. And now, with Southern Charm at his disposal and this as his full-time gig, he’s ready to continue pushing his limits even further.
“I have a desire to perform and record original music, but I also have a desire to not be on the road for most of my life,” he says. “I love hanging out with my wife and cats every day. I don’t have to be anywhere. Some people might not be artistically fulfilled playing other people’s songs, but the way I go about it leaves a lot of room for artistic fulfillment. I feel like there’s a lot of potential I haven’t even tapped into yet.”
The Florence, SC-based multi-instrumentalist Alex Melton, known for his renditions of Punk.
Solo artist Alex Melton, known online for his renditions of Punk Songs as Country influenc.