Music

‘It’s 2016 Somewhere’: My Montgomery Origin Story and His Skyrocketing Career

Belen Yudess ’25
Social Media Manager

*To my roommates, teammates, friends, Instagram followers, and GJW residents who use the bathroom during my 2:00 a.m. shower concerts, I would like to formally apologize for subjecting you to more of my Montgomery madness. You are all troopers.*

Oh baby I am a wreck when I’m without you, Ricky Montgomery – I need you [and your music] here to stay. Whether I am writing an essay about homosexuality in Othello (I’m looking at you Iago), eating avocados and tortilla chips with Medha Gelli ’23 (who now joins me in my “Last Night” sing-alongs), or watching the sunset outside Roberts, Ricky Montgomery’s Montgomery Ricky album is always playing on my phone or in my mind. I owe this obsession to two of my closest friends from high school and AP Psychology.

As part of the class of 2021, my senior year was spent on Zoom. Fortunately, my two closest friends and I had a majority of our classes together, leaving us no choice but to be on FaceTime from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. For some reason, our AP Psychology class (aka the class with the most notetaking) also became ukelele time. While I took illegible notes on functions of the brain, my friends would play acoustic versions of “Mr. Loverman” and “Line Without a Hook,” much to my original dismay. But soon after I found myself dancing around my living room repeating Montgomery’s catchy bridge, “And she’s a she’s a lady, and I am just a boy.” In other words, I was hooked.

I began to explore the album, beginning with “Snow” and “My Heart is Buried in Venice,” appreciating their calm yet melancholic sounds, and slowly moving to more upbeat tunes like “Get Used to It.” Although I adore all of Montgomery’s music, my heart will always belong to “This December.” My 2021 most-listened-to song according to Spotify, “This December,” details Montgomery’s complicated history with the month, and how even though December had always represented tragedy, he hopes that things will get better. Whenever the opening lyrics, “Only in my darkest moment, can I see the light,” softly ring out from my computer, I believe it.

Montgomery’s music felt like my own special secret. Listening to his album was something sacred. But little did I know that Montgomery was gaining several new fans through an unlikely source — TikTok.

Montgomery released his first EP entitled Caught in the Moon in 2014. From there, he came out with his Montgomery Ricky album in 2016, followed by The Honeysticks EP, which he recorded with the band he started of the same name. Although none of his songs originally took off, viral TikToks in 2020 featuring “Line Without a Hook ” and “Mr. Loverman ” caused Montgomery’s name to resurface.

Montgomery’s platform proceeded to grow dramatically, leading to him being signed by a new label and re-recording “Line Without a Hook” with fellow artist and friend mxmtoon. But just like looking at a picture of your fourth-grade self (in my case, poofy-haired with pink and purple braces), it invokes an equal sense of nostalgia and a readiness to move forward.

On March 19, Montgomery announced the creation of his second EP to go along with his newest single “Settle Down.” Via an Instagram post, Montgomery shared his desire to find himself as an artist apart from his success on TikTok.

“It will be an EP that reflects on my time since getting signed over old songs of mine getting big on TikTok,” wrote Montgomery. “A great thing, but ultimately a little stagnating. You want to grow, but the only version of you anybody knows about happened six years ago and you haven’t identified with it in ages. And hardly anybody did when it happened in the first place.”

The EP, titled It’s 2016 Somewhere, which I immediately blasted while writing the weekly response for my history class, was gifted to the world on April 15. The album has seven tracks, including acoustic versions of “Mr. Loverman” and the Honeystick’s “I Don’t Love You Anymore”, two of Montgomery’s previously released singles “Talk to You” and “Sorry for Me,” an intro, a voicemail from Montgomery’s mother, and “Settle Down.”

The intro is a 19-second instrumental with limited vocals, that quickly reaches a pinnacle volume only to suddenly cut off, creating anticipation for what will come next.

Next, is “Talk to You,” which features an electric yet rhythmic melody. It narrates the speaker’s wish to reconnect with a long-lost love. It reflects on the oddness and excitement that comes with seeing an old friend, or even getting to know one’s reinvented self.

The tone of the album shifts dramatically to the wistful and somber tune and lyrics of “Sorry for Me.” This very personal piece details Montgomery’s experience convincing his mother to leave his abusive stepfather. It is a letter to Montgomery’s mother, sister, and victims of abuse conveying that they have the strength and power to fight back and find peace.

Montgomery then hands the mic over to his mother, who expresses her love for him over an accidental voicemail. As his mother frantically tries to hang up the phone, she converses with an unknown party about whether she left her son a butt-dial or a finger-dial, which, *shockingly* leads to a crude joke. This real and relatable interlude reminds the listener about the importance of family and appreciating the simple yet comedic moments life has to offer.

The fifth song debuts “Settle Down,” an optimistic confession to the speaker’s significant other that they are ready to “settle down” and begin a new life together. There is a maturity and vigor present in “Settle Down” that is not apparent in Montgomery’s past work. No more tales of future or unrequited crushes, but of honest and natural reasons for wanting to partake in commitment. This is evident in the line, “I want to settle down with you/I want to complain about my day with you.” In the end, everyone is looking for the right person who will listen to ridiculous rants with a sympathetic smile. This song marks a new phase in Montgomery’s life, one characterized by a meaningful and long-term relationship.

The album concludes with the two acoustic renditions of Montgomery’s older songs. “Mr. Loverman” tells the story of Montgomery’s father, specifically his battle with alcoholism and his sexuality. It discusses the harmful realities of addiction through the lyrics “I’m shattered now/I’m spilling out upon this linoleum ground/I’m reeling in my brain again/Before it can get back to you.” Then through a clever play on words, expresses an acceptance and longing for an unexpected lover, “I’m Mr. Loverman/And I miss my lover, man.” It’s a heartbreaking tribute that finds its impact in raw vulnerability.

“I Don’t Love You Anymore” talks about an abrupt realization that the speaker has fallen out of love, but hopes to spend one final day together with their partner. This song is a farewell message to the past six years of Montgomery’s life and career. He has reconnected with his previous work one last time, but is ready to move on and see what else his music has to offer.

Montgomery is a diamond in the rough. He has the ability to turn unimaginable trauma into beautiful art. As Montgomery gains popularity, I hope others join me in my It’s 2016 Somewhere karaoke nights!

Image Source: Pop Nerd Lounge

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