Want to see a virus spread? There’s a video that shows the process in detail.
In it, Greyson Chance pounds at the piano during a sixth-grade chorus recital in an Edmond, Okla., church, and when he begins, the girls in the front row are uninfected: they don’t yet know to shriek. The notes haven’t yet coalesced into “Paparazzi,” the Lady Gaga song, which Mr. Chance is mildly rewriting.
By the first chorus, though, the blonde has it figured out, her eyes fixed on the back of Mr. Chance’s bowl-cut head. She whispers to her friend on the right, who whispers back — they see what’s happening. The brunette on the left is initially uninterested, but then, sensing the shift in the room, is agape, then smiling. By the time Mr. Chance is finished with the song, a maudlin but impressive take, the room is infected. Eyes are transfixed, hair is flipped. Mr. Chance is a star, even if he isn’t quite aware of it yet.
That clip went from YouTube to Ellen DeGeneres, who featured the overly earnest, grandmother-friendly Mr. Chance, 13, on her show and signed him to her record label. On his debut EP he reprises “Paparazzi”; just as he did on Ms. DeGeneres’s show, he treats it like a punching bag, pummeling it over an arrangement so stark that the result has a 3-D effect, with words jumping out of nothingness as if on the attack.
He similarly covers Augustana’s “Fire,” a mawkish song that there’s no frisson in hearing him make even more so. The only original here is the mournful, piano-driven “Waiting Outside the Lines,” produced by Da Internz, a blatant Coldplay swipe that tries to match, and rein in, Mr. Chance’s voice, which is large and prone to roam. It has all the youthful vim of a performer three times his age.