When you think of Robert Pattinson, the first image that probably comes to mind is that of the handsome young vampire from the Twilight films. But, beyond his Twilight fame, he is a songwriter, actor and recording artist with a discography spanning over 20 albums, which have amassed over 20 million combined streams on Spotify.
In today’s playlist, we’re going to explore the career of one of music’s most influential and talented artists.
The Early Years (1995-2002)
Pattinson was born in London on March 17th, 1982 and started performing at a young age, touring the UK with his family as a child. While he grew up in London, he was sent to boarding school in Gloucestershire and then went on to study English literature and classical music at Oxford University. His career in music began while he was still in school, when he co-wrote and co-produced his first album, titled Born Rotten, with musician David Holmes.
Before he could release Born Rotten, he was introduced to Kate Moss, the fashion icon and model, who at the time already had a career and a baby girl with husband Marc Pollack. Moss helped inspire two of the songs on the album, and, in turn, became the face of his label, 2K Records. Kate Moss was also one of the first artists to listen to Born Rotten and help bring it to the masses, even giving it her seal of approval.
The album was a huge success and debuted at number two on the UK Albums Chart, going on to sell over 300,000 copies in the UK alone and being certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). The lead single, “Let Me Love You,” became their first big hit, reaching number 35 on the UK Singles Chart. Two years later, they released their second album, Chasing Ghosts, which went on to sell over 100,000 copies in the UK and was also certified platinum by the BPI.
Pattinson’s next album, A Promise, was released in 2006 and became his most successful album to date, spawning the singles “Waxing,” “Luminous” and “Going Nowhere,” which were all top ten hits in the UK. The album also marked a turning point for the singer, as he began writing and performing all the songs himself, as opposed to relying on producers and songwriters.
The Rise Of The Singer-Songwriter
Pattinson began writing songs at the ripe old age of 14 and began performing them about a year later. In 2008, he released his first solo album, titled My Own Special Day, which yielded the hits “In My Own Special Way” and “Someday,” the latter of which is still regarded as one of the singer’s most popular songs. In 2011, he released his second solo album, Out Of My League, which produced the hit singles “Barefoot in the Park” and “Someday.”
In 2013, Pattinson released his third solo album, In My Own Special Way, which spawned the hits “Back To You” and “Too Good At Goodbyes.” After a brief break, he released his 4th solo album, Dirty Luxury, in August 2016. In January 2019, he released his 5th solo album, Reality. While the albums did not enjoy the commercial or critical success of his previous albums, they did not lose any of his fans: all five of his solo albums rank in the Top 40 on the UK Albums Chart.
A Newfound Love For Record Labels
As previously noted, 2K Records was the name of Pattinson’s record label in the UK, and from there he went on to sign with Kobalt Records in America, where he is now based. While he had enjoyed the creative freedom of independent labels in the past, the financials and requirements of major record companies in the 2000s helped change his sentiment. “I think as a 17-year-old kid, I just wanted to make weird, underground music, and I loved doing things myself. But after a while, you realize that there are people out there who want to give you money for your music. I started signing with smaller labels and working with good producers, and it was a real joy. I learned a lot from the experience,” he told Digital Music News in 2018.
Pattinson began to appreciate the value of a good record label when he became a father, seeing how much time and effort they could put into helping his daughter, Lily Rose, grow up to be a confident and happy young woman. He has also spoken about his appreciation for big labels and the opportunities they can offer, but understands the appeal of working with smaller, independent labels as well.
The Making Of…
While some might assume that a successful music career would be an easy path to follow, it is, in fact, a very competitive industry. Just to give you an idea of how much effort it takes to be at the top, let’s take a look at the making of…
In a recent interview with NME, Pattinson discussed the unique challenges and difficulties of being a new artist who has almost no professional experience. “I never thought in a million years that I’d be doing this. I’ve literally never worked in an office. I grew up playing music, watching bands, travelling around Europe. I’ve been performing since I was 14 and started writing music at 15. So it was all sort of thrown together. I didn’t really have a plan and, if I’m totally honest, neither did Kate (Moss). But every now and then we’d have these amazing days where we’d wake up and our feet would not hurt and we’d have a great idea for a song. And it sort of happened,” he told NME. “I wrote Born Rotten when I was 15 and went to university when I was 16. I didn’t finish degree – I went to Oxford instead and did English. I fell in love with a girl who didn’t speak English and we had to break up halfway through uni. After that, I didn’t write or perform music for a while. I sort of lost myself in school and started teaching myself guitar.”
Pattinson has always been one to defy stereotypes and be true to himself, and this has certainly not changed. While he has been able to leverage his celebrity, he has not let fame go to his head, remaining grounded and humble while also taking advantage of the opportunities that come with his status. And this is exactly how he wants to keep it: making the most of these last years while he can.
These last few years have undoubtedly been an incredible ride for Pattinson, who has had an incredible impact on music and culture. It’s not yet over, though: he still has plenty more to give and plans to continue making an impact. In the next part of this series, we’re going to explore some of his future plans.