Becky Hill doesn’t do rules. A hit machine since her teens, the pop powerhouse has forged her own particular path to fame. As successful as a songwriter as she is as an artist, as fierce behind the scenes as she is on stage and as credible as she is commercial, the 27-year-old has become one of Britain’s most successful musicians entirely on her own terms.
Only Honest On The Weekend, her years-in-the-making debut album, is both Becky as you know her and as you’ve never heard her before. It arrives on the heels of the gold-selling Get To Know, (a collection of singles Becky either released herself or wrote and guested on), which turned the writer of ten Top 40 hits (including eight platinum records) and a singer with over 1.75 billion streams on Spotify alone, into a household name.
“Even I think it’s weird to have a ‘greatest hits’ album out before a debut album,” says Becky. “But it joined so many dots for people who loved the songs, but didn’t necessarily know who had sung them. Profile-wise, it was a game-changer, but I’ve only ever cared about making great music. I’m not in this to be stopped in the street.”
On Only Honest On The Weekend you’ll hear the addictive, audacious, straight-talking dance-pop that made Becky the ultimate clubbing companion, the raver you want to rave with. But you’ll also hear vintage disco, retro soul, funk, sassy female anthems and dreamy synth-pop. Lyrically, it’s Becky’s life laid bare, from break-ups and make-ups with the same guy to finding her feet in a male-dominated industry to dealing with life in lockdown.
The oldest songs date back to before Becky signed with Polydor Records, some written with her long-time best friend MNEK. A trio of tracks took shape at a writing camp she set up herself and filled with her favourite co-writers. The newest additions were recorded remotely while Becky was busy at home broadcasting live sessions for radio stations and self-producing her critically acclaimed and industry-adored podcast The Art of Rave, for which she booked guests including Roni Size, Sister Bliss, Pete Tong and Basement Jaxx.
“I wanted people to see different sides of me,” says Becky. “I’m known for my voice and that’s what ties the tracks together, but it’s not all big, belting vocals. There are intimate songs where I sing softly. You can hear when I’m pissed off, but also when I’m feeling confused or overwhelmed. Some of it will come as a surprise.”
Confounding expectations has been key to Becky’s career. The Bewdley-born star began writing songs on guitars aged 13 and by 16 had formed a band to perform in pubs and at open-mic nights. At 17, she auditioned for The Voice to get herself out of finishing sixth form.
“I didn’t take it that seriously, but I liked the idea of being judged on your talent, not your appearance,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to be heard rather than seen.”
Still, she made it to the semi-finals, using the show to collect contacts to help launch her career the following year. She found a manager, worked tirelessly for 18 months writing songs and honing her craft and then signed her first record deal. By which point she had already been spotted by other musicians who admired her attitude as much as her voice.
Becky hooked up with fellow teenager MNEK and the pair co-wrote the double platinum-selling No.1 Gecko (Overdrive) for Oliver Heldens, featuring Becky’s vocals, as well as songs for what Becky assumed would be her soon-to-arrive debut album. She co-wrote the Top 10 hit Afterglow for Wilkinson and co-wrote and sang lead vocals on Powerless, a single from Rudimental’s huge debut Home. With Rudimental, Becky got her first taste of big stages, touring the world with the band for two months and taking planes for the first time in her life.
When Losing, her first solo single, charted outside the Top 40, however, Becky was dumped overnight from her deal. Undeterred, she launched her own label, Eko, named in memory of her late uncle’s 12-string guitar which was passed down to her as a child, and released an EP from which four songs flew on to Radio 1, including a duet with Little Simz. Six months later, having turned down an offer from her old label, she signed a new deal with Polydor that allowed her to keep control of her career.
Her hits kept coming – False Alarm with Matoma, Back & Forth with Jonas Blue, Piece of Me with MK, Wish You Well with Sigala, Lose Control with Meduza, I Could Get Used To This with Weiss, Afterglow with Wilkinson. Compiled on Get To Know (confirmed by Official charts as as one of 2020’s top 5 most streamed albums by a female artist in the UK), Becky’s career went supernova. In both 2019 and 2020 she was crowned the second most-streamed British Female Solo Artist on Spotify UK.
Last year, Becky spent five weeks in the UK Top 20 with her solo hit Better Off Without You, released the silver-seller Heaven On My Mind with Sigala and just missed out on a No.1 with her haunting cover of Alphaville’s Forever Young , which soundtracked McDonalds’ much-loved Christmas advert, from which profits were donated to the food poverty charity FareShare.
With a tour postponed and festivals off, much of Becky’s 2020 was spent completing Only Honest On The Weekend.
“I didn’t set aside time to finish the album; as ever, I just didn’t stop writing,” says Becky. “I feel like I’ve been working on my debut since I was 18.”
Different songs capture different times in Becky’s life, but all boast her trademark, no-nonsense attitude. None more so than opener I Got You, a seductive shapeshifter written in 2018, on which she doesn’t mince her words. ‘Let those fuckers know I got a taste for blood,’ she sings, deceptively sweetly.
“It’s about other people judging my relationship,” she says. “Say a word and I’ll slit your throat. Hahaha!
“A lot of the songs are about my boyfriend. We’ve had a very turbulent and inspiring relationship. Put it this way, he’s given me a shitload of material over the years.
“To be honest, he was a bit of a dick when we first got together. I had to put him through training. It’s taken me four and a half years but we got there in the end.”
The euphoric Last Time is about their relationship going right, while the intimate Distance, written in lockdown to an instrumental sent from MJ Cole, both describes the pair being apart and alludes to social distancing. Disco belter Through The Night, written over Facetime with MNEK, with Becky in her childhood bedroom back in Bewdley, was inspired by sleepless nights alone.
The glorious, RnB-tinged Business is an MNEK co-write performed as a duet with Ella Eyre which warns men to keep their noses out of female friendships.
“I love Ella,” says Becky. “We bonded back in the Rudimental days and have been mates ever since. I hate the way female artists are always compared to each other. It made me want to do a track with Ella so that people can hear the vast difference between our voices.”
Perhaps the most surprising song is Perfect People, a stripped-back piano track on which a vulnerable Becky opens up about her own faults.
“That’s a proper classic ballad,” says Becky. “No one is expecting that from me, which is why I love it so much. I can’t wait to sing it on stage.”
To date, Becky has an extraordinary 180 songs registered in her name with ACSAP. Just 17% of PRS for Music’s registered songwriters are women - even fewer in the overwhelmingly male electronic music scene, a stat she hopes to help change. The trailblazer is also flying the flag for females on tour – her crew, band and engineers are predominately women.
“I’ve seen some horrible situations on tour and I’m making a stand against it,” says Becky. “I want to use my position bring about change in what is still a male-dominated industry. I’m grateful to have been given this voice. Believe me, I intend to use it.”