Before Alejandro Aranda unveiled Scarypoolparty to the world, he achieved virality through a medium that now seems ancient—a competition show on television. Nonetheless, the talent and humanity Aranda displayed during the 2019 season of American Idol resonated with viewers to a degree that rarely happens with a viral act breaking on a new platform. As a result, he’s amassed a host of devoted fans and continues to gain more as he enters the alternative-rock arena and experiments with his prodigious talent.

His underdog story is almost too good to be true. I remember when I first stumbled upon Aranda’s audition clip on a social-media timeline. I hadn’t paid attention to AI in years; why was I watching this audition? For starters, I realized, he looked like me. Seeing a self-taught, working-class LatinX artist on primetime TV constitutes a breakthrough on its own terms. The authenticity and mastery he portrayed in his audition was so mesmerizing, it moved AI judge Lionel Richie to give Alejandro a hug and pronounce him an “inspiration,” while Luke Bryan proclaimed him a musical genius. The emotional response to his performance caused the clip to go viral, and Alejandro became “America’s” sweetheart.

As an obvious outlier in the AI talent pool, Alejandro seemed destined to finish as the Idol runner-up, which is how the season played out. But after announcing Scarypoolparty’s first headlining tour last year, he sold more tickets in one hour than the entire AI tour had in 2018. This year, he had major festivals like Lollapalooza, Outside Lands and Bonnaroo lined up before the pandemic hit. For now, Scarypoolparty is reconnecting with fans and making new ones in a familiar setting: live performances via video.

Whether it’s through his Instagram clips soundtracked by epic piano runs over break-beat drum pattern or via acoustic jams showcasing his soulful voice and soothing textures, Alejandro doesn’t hold back musically or stay in one lane. With Scarypoolparty’s debut project on Exit Form—which dropped in November 2019—fans were introduced to Alejandro’s transformation to his version of prog-rock. Infusing classical music alongside heavy guitar riffs and melodic vocals put Scarypoolparty in a lane adjacent to that of Muse, Deftones and Radiohead, and some separation from the soft rock we saw on AI. Just as significantly, he brings some much-needed diversity to the alt-rock world.

Hollywood Records’ SVP of Global Marketing Robbie Snow explains the discovery process for Alejandro’s fanbase: “The music of Scarypoolparty doesn’t fit into any box. Alejandro has a rare, raw talent that exudes authenticity. The best approach with supporting such talent is to give them the freedom to experiment and let the world catch up to their musical genius.”

Scarypoolparty’s brand of rock has earned him plenty of praise from creators in awe of Alejandro’s talent. Grammy winning producers Quincy Jones and FINNEAS are among the most notable fans that made it a point to show their love for Scarypoolparty. It should come as no surprise that SPP has now garnered his own Grammy buzz in the middle of his breakthrough year.

"The best approach to supporting such talent is to give [Scarypoolparty] the freedom to experiment and let the world catch up to his musical genius." -Hollywood Records' Robbie Snow

Alejandro’s hometown influence is readily apparent in Exit Form’s standout tracks. Hailing from the blue-collar, punk-leaning L.A. suburb of Pomona, Alejandro captures the vibe of the big city being so close yet so far away. “Heart Storm” simmers in the piercing rumble of an industrial club; “Diamonds” attacks listeners with arpeggios and distortion; and on “Out Loud” he executes immaculate fingerpicking while singing an anthem that could only emerge out of a lonely bedroom.

Just as he did on American Idol, Alejandro is now poised to break through in the alt-rock sector behind his raw talent and lofty ambition. In September, he’ll release the follow-up EP to Exit Form. So what should we expect from SPP’s new material? “The EP experiments with different sounds and crosses genres, from distorted guitars to classical arrangements,” he explains. “On Doom Hologram, I’m trying to blend all those various styles and create a space to express those ideas.” In the meantime, check his socials for intriguing musical snippets and livestream performances, along with a just-announced drive-in concert at The Grove of Anaheim. One thing you can count on with Scarypoolparty is to expect the unexpected.