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Johnny Kongos, of the band KONGOS

Johnny Kongos

Johnny Kongos

By Christa T. for Accordion Americana Sometimes a song begins slowly. It trips, then tumbles, and then gradually begins to spin, climb and pick up speed.  Finally, it ascends and roars across the airwaves.  Such is the song, “Come With Me Now” on its path to becoming the best selling pop song of all time that features a strong accordion presence. By using the piano accordion in the enormously successful song, it represents a genuine breakthrough, heightening all expectations for the instrument in current American Pop music.

Written and performed by KONGOS, an Arizona based band of four brothers, each a musician with his own unique perspective.  The name of the band, KONGOS, their surname, is of Greek origin and is always presented in upper case letters.  The sons of an American mother and South African father, Johnny, Jesse, and Daniel Kongos were born in Johannesburg, South Africa as American citizens. They were transplanted to Arizona from London at early ages after Dylan, the youngest, was born while the family resided in  London. They grew up in the Valley, graduated from Scottsdale’s Chapparal High School and attended Arizona State University.  Their father, John Kongos, was a singing star in South Africa in the nineteen sixties and seventies. He made certain that his sons were exposed to a wide variety of music styles and genres during their childhood. It was inevitable that the Kongos brothers would learn to feel completely comfortable in their own multi-cultural musical landscape where their talent and band could evolve with the help of their very supportive family atmosphere and their own recording studio.

Johnny Kongos III

Johnny Kongos
The brothers began mailing their music around the world hoping to get airplay on radio for their songs.  They produced their sophomore album, Lunatic, in 2011 with the track, “Come With Me Now”, but received little airplay for three years. They were ready to give up on the material and move on, when the song, suddenly, began being played on radio. In an interview with Billboard, Jesse states that “There was about a year-and-a-half in America trying to get it going, and nothing was happening….then, all of a sudden, a few stations started to spin us, and that’s when it started to change.  We had sent the song around and people had heard the song in 2011 and 2012.Why was it the end of 2013 that it clicked for whatever reason? The long story is that we wrote the song in the end of 2007 and in 2008, we started playing it out live”. In an interview with Radio.com, Johnny Kongos said, “We knew the song had something because we trust our instincts. If a song really makes us get up and move and really get into it, then we trust that instinct.” Their album, Lunatic, realeased in 2012, was then released again in 2014 by Epic Records, where it was promoted aggressively. The single debuted in April, 2014, on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 98, and after a 10 week meteoric rise, peaked at number 31, the fastest rise of any new band since American rock band Evanescence’s song “Bring Me to Life”, in 2003.  It’s been a long time since Jo Ann Castle scored a number 67 slot on that chart with her sensational “Flight of the Bumble Bee Boogie” in 1957. “Come With Me Now” is the best selling accordion-based song since that time, reaching number 1 on the Alternative chart. The single has charted all over the world, making it an international hit song.
“Come With Me Now” has had major exposure, having been featured on many international shows and sports events with the NFL, NBA and ESPN in the U.S. and was also used for both the 2013 Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl, as well as for the 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament. It has been heard as the unofficial theme song for the 2015 Copa America and other international sports events. It has been used in the trailers for the films Holy Motors and Horrible Bosses 2, and on the soundtrack to the film, The Expendables 3.  The song has been a favorite for international television shows of all kinds, from the reality format, to sports, awards and talk shows. The song has been the official theme song for the pay-for-view show, WWE’s Extreme rules in May 2015. It was also featured on the show, NCIS:New Orleans. Following intense exposure on television, it has been used to promote video games, Borderland and Guitar Hero, and commercials for theme parks. As of April 2015, the first anniversary of the release of the song, their music video for “Come With Me Now” has received over 29 million views on the internet.
Kongos

 

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