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Maxwell Levan's "18 Year Old Me" Missed the Mark

Brett Vasvari is a publication author and a website designer who has written press for over 13 years.

LeVan during the "18 year old me" photoshoot

LeVan during the "18 year old me" photoshoot

On November 12, 2021, Maxwell LeVan, a YouTuber and record producer from Newport News, Virginia, released his debut musical project. The EP, titled “18 year old me”, tells the story of a teenage heartbreak that is all too common among 18 year old musicians such as LeVan. With 5 tracks totaling just under 15 minutes, there is minimal time to unpack what the project is directly about, as none of the records go below the surface level of storytelling.

The first record on the project, “HER NAME IS YOU”, gives an abrupt start to the project, with no instrumental build up or introduction. It details how painful it is to see an ex-girlfriend happy with a new person, and describes how LeVan is still attached to the relationship. The second track is “PAY TO PLAY” and has an almost uncomfortably long introduction, changing from a punk rock instrumental to a trap beat, and then back to punk before vocals come in. The subject matter is very vague, discussing Maxwell’s uncomfortability and self-questioning about his feelings for an ex. The third track, titled “ON MY OWN”, is the first customarily structured record on the EP. The first verse talks about the mixed feelings that resided in LeVan’s mind since the beginning of the relationship that inspired the project. The hook, “and I’m on my own tonight…’cause I won’t let me down” sums up the message of the EP, showing that a relationship isn’t necessary in order to be fulfilled. The fourth track is a cover of singer-songwriter Anson Seabra’s “Welcome to Wonderland”, which Maxwell stylized in all lowercase. It consists of piano and vocals, and was previously posted as a video on Maxwell’s YouTube channel, which currently has 15,600 subscribers. The final track on “18 year old me” is an acoustic version of “HER NAME IS YOU” and is solely acoustic guitar and vocals.

In summary, the 15 minute EP very vaguely describes LeVan’s true emotions, and has been criticized as being too short to tell a proper story. The CEO of 31 Records NYC, known as Joe D, said Maxwell “need(s) a Tom, someone who can meet him halfway on vocals and balance everything out. It sounds too monotone”. Joe was referring to the Blink-182 lead singer Tom DeLonge, known for his high voice. LeVan has never hinted at wanting to branch out and start a band, and has always been a solo act.

LeVan’s following on social media is a perfect launching pad for a musical career, but “18 year old me” missed the mark by not capitalizing on a large audience and delivering a memorable listening experience. Joe also criticized the lack of replay value on the project; “It’s gotta just be really good marketing they’re doing, because I don’t see people coming back to listen to this a second time”.


Who is Maxwell LeVan?

Maxwell LeVan is an American record producer, recording artist, songwriter, and record executive. He is best known for his YouTube reaction videos, spanning from Olivia Rodrigo to BTS. LeVan’s debut EP “18 year old me” was released on November 12, and tells Maxwell's teenage heartbreak story. An unlikely punk rock singer, LeVan grew up on Elton John and Billy Joel and transitioned into Juice Wrld and Charlie Puth in early adulthood. Despite having a diverse music taste, LeVan never found a solid foundation to start a fulfilling music career. Stumbling upon the likes of Machine Gun Kelly and YUNGBLUD after living in the party scene for several months, Maxwell immediately found sanctuary in the drum fills, bass lines, and guitar riffs of pop punk. In his debut EP "18 year old me", we witness a storyline that details the dramatic tension, uncomfortable conversations, and ultimate parting from a romantic partner, along with the acceptance and best-foot-forward mindset that follows.


Maxwell grew up playing piano, but never took lessons or figured out how to read music. "I would hear a song on the radio and when I got home I was able to play it", he said. Maxwell has perfect pitch, a rare ability of an individual to recognize or re-make a given musical note without the advantage of a reference tone. This occurs in only around 1 percent of artists. "It's weird, I don't understand the notes on paper, but when I hear them out loud it's like knowing red from blue." LeVan started autonomously studying music theory in April 2020, in an effort to further his knowledge of the technical aspect of composing a record.

He is best known for his YouTube reaction videos, spanning from Olivia Rodrigo to BTS. 
 Releasing his first original single in 10 months, LeVan’s hip-hop infused record "LOVE REAL" was his biggest release ever. Following a studio upgrade and a new label agreement, Maxwell released “REMEDY” on July 24th, 2021. 
 LeVan’s debut EP “18 year old me” released on November 12, and tells Maxwell's teenage heartbreak story. An unlikely punk rock singer, LeVan grew up on Elton John and Billy Joel and transitioned into Juice WRLD and Charlie Puth in early adulthood. Despite having a diverse music taste, LeVan never found a solid foundation to start a fulfilling music career. Stumbling upon the likes of Machine Gun Kelly and YUNGBLUD after living in the party scene for several months, Maxwell immediately found sanctuary in the drum fills, bass lines, and guitar riffs of pop punk. In his debut EP "18 year old me", we witness a storyline that details the dramatic tension, uncomfortable conversations, and ultimate parting from a romantic partner, along with the acceptance and best-foot-forward mindset that follows.

© 2022 Brett Vasvari

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