The story behind Brie Larson’s failed pop career

Before Room, the Academy Award winner was a Miley Cyrus before her time

Brie Larson backstage at the Oscars.
Oscar winner Brie Larson's had a failed pop career before hitting it big in acting. Image Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Long before Brie Larson was wowing audiences in Room, the Oscar-winner embarked on an altogether different career as a pop star.

Larson’s vocal talents are no big secret – she performed alongside cult indie popsters Metric in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World– but her personal pop journey goes back seven years before even that big-screen warbling.

Back in 2003, singer-songwriter Sandi Thom was the first singer to reach No 1 on the back of her MySpace demos.

Budding child actor Larson adopted a similar approach the same year with her personal website highlighting her original songs.

At the same time as starring on the short-lived US series Raising Dad, a fortuitous encounter kickstarted Larson’s pop life.

“I began writing all the time, but just thought of it as a hobby,” she told the Universal Music Channel. “We happened to have a musical guest on the show, Deana Carter, and her manager started talking to my mom. My mom mentioned that I was dabbling in music, and she gave my mom her card.”

Brie Larson started out as a child star
Fresh Brie Larsson's acting career dates back to 1998. Image Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

Then aged 14, Larson’s demos led to a deal with Universal Records imprint Casablanca.

Having been home-schooled from an early age due to her acting work, the switch to pop starlet was seemingly smooth for Larson, who was already dreaming big.

“I’d love to tour with someone like Maroon 5 or Gwen Stefani,” she told the Kidz World website on the eve of the release of her album Finally Out Of PE.

Having seen her friend and fellow child star Aaron Carter thrive, Larson had every reason to be confident.

A raft of experienced songwriters were brought on board to co-write the debut record.

David Frank, whose credits included The Pussycat Dolls and Destiny’s Child, was joined by Pam Sheyne – who co-wrote Christina Aguilera’s Genie In A Bottle – David Guetta/One Direction writer Lindy Robbins and a pre-fame Skylar Grey.


Brie Larson's debut album Finally Out of P.E.
Brie breaks out Larson's debut album failed to catch fire. Image Casablanca

Explaining the album’s concept, Larson said: “I don’t have a bunch of love songs as I don’t really have much boy experience. I just write about what I’m actually going through in my real life.

“That’s where the title of my album comes from. My PE teacher didn’t like me at all, which was hard to deal with as I was usually such a teachers’ pet. So when I found out I got my record deal, I was like, ‘Yes, I’m finally out of PE.'”

The initial signs were good. First single She Said reached No 31 in the US in 2004, but failed to garner radio coverage. That lack of mainstream appeal led Casablanca to delay Finally Out Of PE’s release by a year.

She Said Brie Larson's debut single.

When the album finally did come out in October 2005, it performed poorly. In the US, it sold just 3,500 copies.

Though kid-focused stations like Radio KOL and Radio Disney endorsed her sound, Larson struggled to find an audience and plans for a second album were quietly shelved.

Sporadic singing appearances followed, with Larson singing Hope Has Wings over the credits of animated straight-to-DVD feature Barbie And The Magic Of Pegasus and on the soundtrack to 2006 movie Hoot.

Brie Larson Hope Has Wings.

Having reactivated her MySpace page and updating it with several acoustic and demo versions of new songs, Larson uploaded a new EP in 2008 and was evidently keen to rekindle her interest in music.

Not that it mattered much by then, with Larson enjoying regular acting work that would soon build to memorable turns in Greenberg, Scott Pilgrim and Short Term 12 to name.

Now a little older and wiser, she joins the likes of Mandy Moore in making the successful transition from child pop star to fully-fledged actor.

It might have been a very different story had her pop career come a few years later though.

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