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The solo career of Luke Hemmings and the decaying image of the typical “rock star”

The original rock star image of trashing hotel rooms and driving cars into swimming pools is a stigma that will probably never change. However, there is a definite renaissance of the new representation of the rock star facade.

Luke Hemmings is the 26-year-old lead singer of the Australian band 5 Seconds of Summer. Although formed in 2011, the band had their big break in 2014 with their hit song “She Looks So Perfect.” The original attitude and style of the band, and Hemmings, had a pop-punk vibe in all aspects. The boys wore lots of skinny jeans, band t-shirts, and basically anything from Hot Topic. Hemmings even rocked his very own iconic lip ring.

On Sep. 29, 2014, Hemmings tweeted to his, at the time, three million followers, “I wish I could put on lip balm in public without judgment.” On Aug. 13th, 2021, he modeled on the cover of “Euphoria Magazine” wearing a highlighter on his cheeks, faint eye makeup, a pearl necklace, and his formally spiked hair curled and styled.

This new style of Hemmings sparked from the release of his solo album “When Facing The Things We Turn Away From,” which hit the music world the same day the “Euphoria Magazine” cover dropped. While yes, this album did not feature any other members of 5 Seconds of Summer, the band did not break up for Hemmings to pursue a solo career. In fact, bandmate Ashton Irwin had also released a solo record titled “Superbloom” towards the end of 2020.

While Hemmings’ solo debut did not break any records, it still managed to draw fans into his new and unique sound. There was an obvious stray from the everchanging style of his band, and he successfully separated himself from the group while still having an association with them. It was refreshing to see a group support their solo act rather than resent it.

The 2021 studio album is labeled as an alternative record, which contrasts significantly with 5 Seconds of Summer, who have transitioned from pop-punk to mainstream pop. Produced by Sammy White, “When Facing The Things We Turn Away From” utilizes synthetic and immersive audio, which shows a new and lighter side of Hemmings. The album highlights the comfort he has in his own skin and emphasizes a softer approach to music and breaking a gendered stereotype.

After about three years, the second era of Luke Hemmings’ solo career began. Following 5 Seconds of Summer’s fifth studio album, “5SOS5,” and the 2023 tour, it was time for him to hit the studio on his own terms. Releasing on April 26th, 2024, the EP entitled “boy” is the revival of this esoteric style only Hemmings does so well. With two singles already released, the record has established itself to have a similar sound and production.

The first song of this new release, called “Shakes,” introduced this new era with a sulky and deep sound. Listeners are taken through a whirlwind of emotions with the melody constantly shifting up and down. The lyrics express the feeling of wanting another version of yourself, but not realizing until afterwards that the feeling is inevitable. The corresponding music video highlighted Hemmings as a hit while the world around him moved, representing the inevitable change happening around us all.

“Close My Eyes” was released shortly after the first single, following the same tune; the second release from “boy” continues this idea of change. The lyrics, “Feel as your eyes get heavy, From lookin’ at what you want, Need something to break the levee, The overflow in my heart,” describe the need to change exceptionally. The rest of the album can only be assumed to follow this storyline.

Instead of the past stereotypical “hot” and “sexy” image of rock stars, there is a more vulnerable and down-to-earth image that Hemmings represents. It normalizes feminine aspects in men and a simpler more natural style. One could say, he faced the things society turned away from and is becoming the boy he wants to be.