“It’s really crazy, all that,” says Laval-based Brandon Mig about his exceptional year in 2018, which can be summed up in five words: “Best I’ll Never Have.” That song was the most played on Québec radio in 2018, which contributed much more to the recognition of his talent than did his participation in La Voix [the Québec franchise of The Voice] in 2017. “It’s so cool to have had a chance like that,” he admits.
Propelled by tropical house rhythms, “Best I’ll Never Have” sits squarely in current musical trends, and became a summer staple on Québec’s commercial airwaves. The fact that there was also a bilingual version also helped ensure maximum rotation. “With both versions out there, we manage to accumulate [rotations] and increase its popularity in both languages,” says Mig. “Although the Francophone version did get more airplay.
“The interesting thing is, the French version was a huge hit on the radio, but the English version did better on streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and others. It’s like each version found its niche.”
But the fact that he was a contestant on La Voix, and his subsequent association with coach Marc Dupré, also played a big part in seeing his song adopted by radio stations and their audiences. “On the Anglophone side, it’s mostly community and college stations that played ‘Best I’ll Never Have,’ as well as Montréal’s Beat 92.5 FM.”
Captivated by music since the piano lessons he took as a child, Mig discovered singing when he participated in a musical in high school. He even played in a small alt-rock band. “I still play with those guys for fun, for the sheer pleasure of playing music,” he says. One thing leading to the next, he ended up auditioning for La Voix. “I made it to the quarter-finals – quite the experience. The following summer I toured with Marc Dupré a little,” he says, and also offered his songwriting skills to other people’s projects.
Partly thanks to Dupré, Mig met the architect behind the success of “Best I’ll Never Have,” Montréal composer, producer, and studio owner John Nathaniel. “He’s an incredible musician,” says Mig. “His method of composing is efficient, fast and formidable.” Fruitful, we would add: Nathaniel, awarded the Songwriter of the Year at the SOCAN Gala in 2017, co-written and/or produced a ton of radio hits in Québec and Canada, including Marc Dupré’s “Du bonheur dans les étoiles,” Alexe Gaudreault’s “Placebo,” and “Éclat,” as well as worked on songs by OneRepublic, Marie-Mai, and Switchfoot.
Nathaniel invited Mig to his studio just to see if there was any chemistry between them. Luckily, the two immediately clicked. “Before we got to ‘Best I’ll Never Have,’ we wrote seven songs in two days,” says Mig. “Short, two-minute-long ideas that we would record. ‘Best I’ll Never Have’ was the eighth, and it was the best of all the ones we’d come up with. Everything came together when we found the chorus; that’s when we knew we might have a hit on our hands.” Why that one? “Hmm…,” says Mig. “I think when we came up with the melody and the lyrics, I was in a more emotional place. I think that’s what it is: together we created a song full of emotion, both lyrically and musically.”
From this demo, the pair worked for a solid week in the studio to come up with the best voice tracks, tweaking the orchestration and production under Nathaniel’s direction. As soon as the song was finished, they considered recording a French version, and that’s when lyricist Mariane Cossette-Bacon, Nathaniel’s collaborator (who penned Alexe Gaudreault’s “Placebo”) stepped in to adapt to French. The rest, as they say, is history. “It’s so cool to have a mentor like John, because he knows how to compose good songs,” says Mig. “That’s something I want to keep doing for a very long time.”
Although “Best I’ll Never Have” was Québec’s Summer hit of 2018, and greatly increased the Mig’s fame and fortune, he still doesn’t have an album, yet. Unsurprisingly, he’s now working full-time to remedy that situation. “We’re planning on composing a five- or six-track EP, and to release them one by one, as singles for the radio,” says Mig. “By seeing how the next single does, if the momentum is still there, we’ll be able to figure out how far we can take this.”
A new song penned by Nathaniel, Cossette-Bacon and Mig should be released soon. Don’t touch that dial!