Exclusive: Carlie Hanson's First Music Video, for "Only One"

"I'd never done anything like that before other than gym class in high school."
Reading time 6 minutes

Pop’s next teen phenom is here. And she’d been hiding out in the middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin. 17-year-old Carlie Hanson is witty, charming, self-confident beyond her years, and, most importantly, talented. She’s got the idgaf attitude of her contemporary Billie Eilish, but to say that either don’t care about their artistry would be a lie — they’re just less hung up on standard ideals of female music stardom.

Similarly to Eilish a year or two ago, Hanson is in the stage of her career that A&Rs dream of: three songs deep into a discography, relatively unknown, but taking in streaming numbers by the millions. If her debut track, “Why Did You Lie?” is anything to go by — and having heard some unreleased tracks, it is — then Hanson is well set to fill a pop void left empty by Justin Bieber. It’s fitting then that he’s her idol.

Today, she premieres her first music video for her stellar track “Only One.” Thanks to a few good playlist positions, including one curated by Taylor Swift on Apple Music, the track has already racked up tens of millions of plays, which translates into the kind of success a girl from Onalaska, working at McDonalds and finishing up high school could only dream of. One listen and one play of the video later and you’ll know that she is only at the very beginning of what is sure to be an exciting career.

“Only One” sees Hanson as a ghost of sorts, perhaps a memory or a figment of imagination, haunting a lover. It also sees some serious choreography, something surprising for an artist so early in their career, especially one that’s never danced before. It shows that Hanson is willing to take a risk, jump fully into something without worry. Here, we catch up with the now L.A.-based Hanson during a quick visit home — to see mom, of course — to find out more about the concept behind her video, what inspired the choreography, and her first forthcoming live show.


So let's talk about this music video for "Only One." Obviously, it's your first video, which I'm sure was probably a little intimidating.

It was! I did not know what to expect. I thought it was going to be really hard but it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. And the dancing—I was nervous to go in and learn choreo because I'd never done anything like that before other than gym class in high school.


You've never done choreo before this?



I think you did pretty well.

Yeah! The directors said I was a fast learner. It was super, super fun.


It's not even minimal dancing, it's pretty involved.

Yeah, it was! It was. It probably would have been harder if I didn't have nice people 'cause Ty — the boy in the video — he was really easy to get along with. 


I'm guessing he was a dancer?

Yeah, he was. He's freaking amazing. He's like an alien dancer.


Whose idea was the choreo though?

I had been talking about how I wanted to do choreo for a while, like during live shows and stuff, but it wasn't my idea for the video. It was the directors's idea. 


You put yourself out there like that. I don't think many people just getting started would take that risk.

I know. I mean, I dance in my room by myself all the time. I was like, "I think I can do this," so I had to do it.


Were there any reservations?

No! I just went for that shit.


Even on the more intense scene.

Oh, my God, that was my favorite part.


You weren't intimidated at all?

Well, actually at first I kind of was, but only by the choreographer because she was really — I don't know. I was kind of intimidated by her, but she ended up being really funny and making it comfortable. But I was never intimated by anything. Not even by the camera. I was scared I was going to pee my pants when the camera got all up in my face, but it ended up being fine.


Did you have a whole female crew?

Yeah, we did. The two directors, they were great! And they were both girls too. I really want to end up working with them again. They're super cool.


Did you get weird looks from people driving around?

No. It was pretty away from everything, but there was a cop that pulled up at one point. We thought it was going to get shut down or something but it ended up being fine.


He probably just wanted to be in the video.

Yeah, he probably did. He should have.


Are you dead in this video? Or you just never existed?

I never existed. I'm just haunting him. My memory, my spirit is just haunting him throughout the video. I never died though. I just appear. My spirit.


What are you excited about?

Touring, live shows, I cannot wait to get on stage. Just putting out more music. Playing on the radio.


The first time you hear yourself on the radio will probably be insane.

Yeah. That will be — I will definitely poop my pants.


When is your live show?

All I know for sure is I have my birthday show which is on May 18. I'm playing at the Mint on that day.


Is that in LA?

Yeah. It's this really shitty little venue. But it's gonna be LIT AS HELL GIRL! Bring your man, have a good time! 

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