Shamir was first introduced to a wider audience when he released the video for “Call It Off” during the 2015 YouTube Music Awards. He went from critical darling on the Internet to having his image projected out in meatspace a la electronic billboard in Times Square. Yet, the 20-year-old from North Las Vegas was met with sideways glances rather than warm embraces. The androgyny of both his colorful appearance and his high tenor drew heteronormative vitriol, for which Shamir responded in kind on Twitter by confidently announcing his gender fluidity.
As someone who strived for country stardom, experimented with punk and is now settling into a mode constructed by synthesizers, Shamir seems almost like an avatar of attention-deficit Millennials. His inspirations range in popularity from Joyce Manor to Taylor Swift – a by-product of a generation raised on having numerous browser tabs open at once. Everything is fair game. If there was a blueprint for how a young pop star should look, sound, and act in 2015, Shamir would be it.