Fresh off a year in which Charlie Puth released the record-setting “See You Again” with Wiz Khalifa and his debut LP, and launched his first solo tour, the YouTube sensation-turned-pop star, 24, tells EW about the artists and albums that shaped him.
The first song that I loved: Neil Sedaka, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”
“When I was 3 or 4 years old, I became obsessed with Neil Sedaka’s ‘Breaking Up Is Hard to Do.’ We would wait outside of church from when I was, like, 3 until 6 [years old], and I would give a performance every Sunday.”
The first album I bought with my own money: Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP
“I was in Catholic school and wanted something with [a parental] advisory sticker. Dr. Dre’s production got me into producing—it was the cleanest rap production I’d heard.”
The song that reminds me of my first crush: Britney Spears, “Sometimes”
“[Laughs] It happens to be what was playing when I got my first kiss. I was at my beach club trying to fly a kite and this girl just came up and kissed me on the lips. It was crazy.”
Artists I love that would surprise people: the Jazz greats
“I went to Manhattan School of Music—I was a jazz piano player. I listen to Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, a lot of Miles Davis, and a whole lot of John Coltrane. I’m a jazz head.”
The song that makes me cry: Celine Dion, “All by Myself”
“I get overwhelmed listening to music—not so much from the lyrics, but the production. Say, Celine Dion’s ‘All by Myself.’ It’s the most insane David Foster production. I’m getting chills right now hearing it in my head.
My go-to karaoke jam: ’80s favorites
“Anything from the ’80s: Wham!, Cyndi Lauper. When you’re having a mojito with your friends, you want to just have a fun time.”
The TODAY show is teaming up with EW for a backstage pass to the “Citi Concert Series on TODAY” with exclusive Q&A’s in the magazine and on EW.com. Tune in to Puth’s performance June 17 on NBC.