After he debuted in the 18th season of American Idol and placed number three among the contestants, singer-songwriter Jonny West has always made it clear that he’s only doing things his way. While on the show, he strictly played original material and used it as a platform to zero in on his sound.

Though competing in American Idol showed him what he was capable of, it also showed him how imperative it was for him to have enough creative control to feel comfortable exploring music as a “vessel that I’ve gravitated toward as the medium to relay stories.”

Whether that meant getting involved in every single visual aspect of his music or producing his own songs, the California native was willing to do anything that would get him closer to how he envisioned his music output. And on “missing out,” West’s first single of this year following his 2022 EP MOTEL CALIFORNIA, he’s at a crossroads both musically and lyrically, arriving in an exciting state matching his ambition.

artist to watch in 2023

“missing out,” released alongside “shovel (demo),” features a simplistic yet breezy instrumental that allows West to ponder whether or not he will be missing out if he leaves a good relationship behind. The 80s-inspired synth-pop production gives each word sung an extra bounce, contrasting the melancholy songwriting still holding onto an optimistic future. Toward the end of the track, the shine dissipates as crackling drums fire off around West’s impassioned vocals, eventually coming to a sudden standstill, leaving you wanting more.

West might have literally gone over his head in the music video for “missing out,” which finds a man walking around various spots in LA without his head. The sight is nothing short of surreal, making the visuals even more impressive for how many unique shots there are of the headless man lounging around. The video then matches the climactic ending of the song and catches up with West, who rides in the back of a moving car and sets off a firework.

For someone who aims to do music his way, West believes his true calling is in performing music rather than the creation of it. “Directing moments with an ensemble of listeners to feed off their feelings and oneness and create a one-off moment together is more fulfilling to me than anything I’ve experienced and feels like a called purpose,” said West. With that kind of enthusiasm for music, especially when it comes to live shows, there’s little that can’t be accomplished.

Words: David Sosa

“missing out” by Jonny West is out on all streaming services. For more on new music and potential live shows, follow him on Instagram.