The 1975, a British synth-pop band with over 16 million monthly listeners on Spotify, was recently on their “At Their Very Best” World Tour promoting their most recent album, “Being Funny in a Foreign language.” This tour premiered the band’s innovative performance style, which the Rolling Stones categorized as “part performance art, part rock show, all bolstered by some of the best pop songs to have emerged in the last decade.”
Oddly enough, most of the publicity generated from this tour focuses not on the music or performance, but on the antics of the band’s lead singer and rhythmic guitarist, Matthew “Matty” Healy. Son of English actors, Denise Welch and Tim Healy, Healy has embraced his spotlight for most of his life. Recently, his popularity on TikTok stems from his on-stage tendency to performatively kiss fans.
This stage trick is not new; in fact, singers like Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen are famous for acts like this that excite their crowds and fuel the future daydreams of their fans. Associate Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Virginia Jack Hamilton posits that “if you think about the crooner tradition or the singing of love songs, it’s nothing new for people to have crushes on stars. Kissing someone on stage is the literal fulfillment of that fantasy.” While Healy does rely on this trope, it seems to be only a fraction of a larger performance containing many more acts.
Healy has surely kissed his fair share of fans, but three main instances got caught in TikTok’s algorithm. The first happened at a Dallas show, when Healy brought 24-year-old bartender Isabella onto stage with him and made out with her. She frantically relayed the events to her Twitter followers, most notably pointing out that “he ASKED before he kissed [her].” This theme of consent stays consistent with the second lucky guy, who claims to have held up his “phone with the words GIVE A GUY A TRY,” thinking that it would “be a cute way to get a smile from Matty.” This fan was starstruck as Healy brought him on stage, making the fan “feel something [he] just [couldn’t] fully put into words.” The third fan held up a sign that asked Healy to be her first kiss. After checking her ID and asking “are you sure?” a number of times, Healy kissed her, the video of which now has 1.2 million likes on Tik Tok.
Another collection of Healy’s viral moments takes place during the band’s performance of “I Like America & America Likes Me,” a song that uses a near controversial amount of autotune, even when being performed live. There is a small pause at one point in the song, where Healy takes it upon himself to do a multitude of things: criticize security guards for not helping a fan up, apologize to fans with bad seats, compliment the crowd and even express his dislike of menthols, all with a robotic-sounding voice.
Their show in Madison Square Garden in early November showcased more of Healy’s bizarre acts. One of the television sets played a video showcasing shots of Logan Paul, Kamala Harris, Mark Zuckerberg and even Bored Ape NFTs. Then, after taking his shirt off, Healy took a large bite out of a slab of raw steak, and started doing push ups on stage.
All of this information begs the question: how does Matty Healy have such a large community of stans on Tik Tok? Creator of SYSCAbout Lucy Blakiston explains that people find him so attractive because “we’re so used to seeing celebrities being so manufactured, living and dying by their publicists, made for our consumption. There’s something really enticing about someone that seems unpolished.” The Rolling Stones describes Healy as “a subversive and surreal take on modern masculinity,” which speaks to the growing population of teens on social media who prefer men who contradict their masculinity.
Healy is joining the ranks of men like Harry Styles and Timothée Chalamet, who comfortably express their femininity and are widely appreciated on platforms like Instagram and TikTok for doing so.