"Watch out world, I'm grown now."
If you're a fan of either Chloe x Halle or Grown-ish, you ought to recognize that lyric. After all, it is taken from the song "Grown," featured on the sister act's 2018 debut album The Kids Are Alright and used as the theme song for the Freeform comedy they've co-starred on for the last three seasons.
Though the line may be nothing new, after one listen to Chloe and Halle Bailey's new album, Ungodly Hour, you get the sense that it served as the LP's central thesis; a mantra manifested over the course of 13 impeccably produced—usually by Chloe, who celebrates her 22nd birthday on July 1, herself—and performed tracks.
And as cliché as it may be to label something "the future of music," it's hard to argue against it being used while discussing the tight harmonies that earned the sisters the all-important Beyoncé co-sign that kick-started their career and the cohesive, highly-assured R&B sound that they've matured into.
"On this album, we have songs about our insecurities, our ups and our downs, our love lives, some things we do that our naughty," Halle explained during a recent interview with The Rundown's Erin Lim. "For this album, Ungodly Hour, we wanted to change the narrative about who we are because everybody always complements us and says, 'Oh, you guys are just like perfect angels.' So we wanted to take that narrative and flip it. Show the other side, show the raw side of us, the insecurities that we have—all of the above—and show that we do have layers and that's a beautiful thing because that's what makes you who you are."
Even more beautiful? The increasing visibility of their artistic maturation.
Whereas The Kids Are Alright peaked at No. 139 on the Billboard 200 during its life cycle, Ungodly Hour—which was only released on June 12, 2020—has already reached No. 16. And lead single "Do It" has become their first to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 83.
And while we could sit here and use a lot of pretty words to explain why their ascendancy is so deserved and how those already obsessed with the duo have had front-row seats for the blossoming of two careers very likely guaranteed to withstand the test of time, we thought it would be more powerful to just show you.
The One That Started It All
While this cover of the opening track off Bey's 2013 self-titled magnum opus wasn't the first cover the Bailey sisters ever shared on YouTube—rather, it was a cover of a different Bey song, "Best Thing I Never Had"—this was the one that managed to go viral and catch the ear of the Queen herself. Uploaded on December 22, 2013—when Chloe and Halle were just 15 and 13, respectively—the performance of the mid-tempo ballad bears what would later come to be recognized as the hallmarks of a Chloe x Halle performance: preternatural vocals and impeccable harmonies. By 2015, they were one of the three first acts signed to the management arm of Bey's Parkwood Entertainment.
The Super Bowl
By the time the sisters took the field as Super Bowl LIII in 2019 to perform "America the Beautiful," they'd already released an EP, a mixtape and their debut album, been starring on Grown-ish for two seasons, opened for Bey twice, and earned a Best New Artist Grammy nod—they lost to Dua Lipa—and yet the patriotic performance introduced them to their biggest audience yet. (Though it was still pregame, an estimated average 98.2 million viewers watched the big game, with another 70,081 fans in attendance.) And what an introduction it was. No longer the young girls going viral on YouTube, what viewers saw that night were two grown women with complete mastery over their instruments, in sync with one another like few duos ever are. Those harmonies still give chills over a year later.
The Today Performance
Oh, you want inventive? Get a load of this moment from mid-June when the duo appeared on Today to perform Ungodly Hour's hit lead single, "Do It." While coronavirus quarantine meant that much of the live performances we've seen over the last few months were smaller, stripped-down and intimate, Chloe x Halle took it in the complete opposite direction. Turning the family's tennis court into their very own soundstage, they delivered set design, costuming, choreography, and, as always, those vocals. We just wish we'd been in the neighborhood for the free show.
In one of two gigs to take place during the last weekend of June, the duo performed Ungodly Hour closer "ROYL" during Global Citizen's virtual concert Global Goal: Unite for Our Future on June 27. With Halle on the electric guitar and the pair enveloped in green lasers, the hard-hitting performance drove home the reality that, though their music is often classified as R&B, there's no boxing these two in, genre-wise. Rather, they're succeeding by pulling influences from all over the place to create something totally unique and wholly theirs.
Dancing With Themselves
A day later, the sisters appeared during the 2020 BET Awards to deliver another seemingly big-budget performance full of vision and, of course, vocals. Kicking things off with follow-up single "Forgive Me"—a song so dripping in swag that it almost slaps you in the face—before transitioning to "Do It," costume change and all, the final 30 seconds or so take things next level as both sets of Bailey sisters dance with one another in a move reminiscent of Destiny's Child's "Lose My Breath" music video. Only a bit more impressive because of, you know, coronavirus.
Ungodly Hour is available now.