Since forming in October 2016, the members of rising dance-pop group Why Don’t We have enjoyed several moments they describe as “surreal,” including hearing their current single, “Something Different,” on Los Angeles’ influential radio station KIIS FM for the first time (and having social media star Logan Paul direct the song’s video), watching their latest EP, Why Don’t We Just, hit No. 1 on the iTunes Pop chart (besting albums by Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran, and Bruno Mars), and learning that their summer headlining tour sold out.
But ask Daniel Seavey, Zach Herron, Corbyn Besson, Jonah Marais, and Jack Avery what the highlight of the past year has been and they all agree it was performing at a Make-A-Wish event in Portland, Oregon, with Daniel’s friend, 19-year-old Nathan Ehline, a music lover and percussionist who was born with cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. “His one wish was to perform a live concert for a big crowd,” says Jack. “So we joined him onstage for a show in Daniel’s hometown. There were 1,500 people there and it was our biggest show as a group.” Adds Corbyn: “The smile on Nathan’ face after the show was probably the most genuine smile I’ve ever seen in my life.”
It says a lot about these five young men that the highlight of a year that saw their careers explode is putting a cheek-to-cheek grin on the face of a teen with a major illness. But if you know Daniel, Corbyn, Zach, Jonah, and Jack, it’s not surprising. Sit with them in person and it immediately becomes apparent how grounded they are. Each member was a rising solo artist with an individual fan following in his own right before they met through a series of national tours and decided to pool their talents. “The idea was brought up to us and we were all like, ‘why don’t we…?’” explains Daniel. “Everything about this group is very spontaneous, even the name. That’s our vibe.”
Over the past year, the members of Why Don’t We have truly bonded as friends, and their genuine camaraderie shines through in everything they do, including in their playful YouTube videos and especially in their feel-good, melody-minded, harmony-laden music. “Our songs are always really positive,” says Daniel. “That’s something we make sure is always a part of it.” “Fans tell us all the time, ‘You’ve gotten me through hard times in my life with what you do,’” Jonah says. “It’s an amazing feeling as an artist to know that you’re affecting people in a positive way and getting them through hard situations. It means a lot to us.”
Indeed the group’s uplifting spirit has attracted a devoted fan base. When Why Don’t We decided to FaceTime some of their fans, and asked their over one million Instagram followers to tell them why they should be the lucky recipient, the post received 20K comments. “That just blew our minds,” says Corbyn. “And the comments were long paragraphs with deep messages about who they are and why we inspire them. It wasn’t just ‘FaceTime me because I’m cool.’” “The fans will also start Twitter hashtags on their own and get them trending,” says Zach. “That’s how amazing they are.” “Our fans got us to where we are,” says Jonah. “They’re the ones getting us out there. And we love them for it.”
That strong audience engagement has undoubtedly fueled the group’s rapid rise. Why Don’t We has released three EPs, their 2016 debut Only The Beginning and this year’s Something Different and Why Don’t We Just — the latter peaking at No. 1 on Billboard’s Emerging Artist chart and No. 2 on its Heatseekers and Next Big Sound charts. The group’s music has racked up over 50 million YouTube views and over 35 million Spotify streams, and they’ve hit Spotify’s USA Viral Top 50 Artists chart. “Something Different,” an ode to individuality, has more than seven million Spotify streams alone. Plus, a comedic music video Why Don’t We appeared in with Logan Paul, “Help Me Help You,” has earned more than 87 million YouTube views. The activity led to major-label interest, with Why Don’t We recently signing to Atlantic Records. “We’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Jack says of the label’s illustrious roster of star pop acts, but I think we’re ready.”