This week, WXPN announced the four finalists of our first ever 24 Hour Song Challenge, and as we approach the Grand Prize Winner reveal, we’ll bring you spotlights on the four artists who got this far. Today, we meet Blue Barnett, the indie rock artist who fronts the band Best Bear. Their remarkably catchy acoustic song “Fireworks” captured our attention, and we hear more about it below.

Best Bear "Fireworks" (WXPN 24-Hour Song Challenge)

What’s your hometown? Where are you currently based?

Long story short — I grew up bouncing around between Pennsylvania and New Jersey! For the last five years I’ve lived mostly in Philadelphia proper.

How long have you been performing? Are you primarily a solo artist, do you play in any bands?

I have been performing music in some capacity for the last 20 years!

I started off primarily as a solo folk artist, performing and putting out records under the name “Jeanette Lynne.”

In the last decade I’ve branched out as “hired gun” as a bass player for local and touring bands, along with studio session work. The Sonder Bombs, Biitchseat, Hit Like a Girl, Spirit Weak, The Side Chicks, Community Center (2015-2018) and the list goes on!

My ultimate dream was to front a rock band of my own (Adrianne Lenker meets Big Thief style), and sing / write the songs / play guitar – and that’s what I’ve been doing since the pandemic with my band, Best Bear.

What inspired you to interpret the prompt “Summertime” the way you did?

I knew I wanted to write something upbeat, and similar to the songs I might blast on the drive of a spontaneous beach day/road trip. I was born in December, and generally have more love for colder introspective months of the year. To me the best case scenario in the summer (aside from dog sitting in someone’s West Philly mansion with the AC blasting) involves packing up the car and heading for the beach, blasting music while racing down the highway, walking on the sand, getting into trouble on the boardwalks by the ocean. Why not throw a lil avoidant romance in the mix while we’re at it?!

What I loved about this song challenge was also finding commonality with my own personal fear of love (summer love – love that doesn’t last) after experiencing so much heartbreak the last few years. So when the line “ you’re fireworks, and I’m a dog” came out of my mouth, I knew I really resonated with this song on a deeper level.

Can you tell us about your process? Are you lyrics-first, hook-first, etc?

I usually sit down with my acoustic guitar and just play around with some chords and different ideas until I start hearing some melodies in my head. Sometimes those end up being guitar lines, other times they become the melody of the lyrics. After that I try to piece together a story, and just freewrite / allow myself to have “dummy lyrics”and mumble ideas into my phone’s voice memo app. Sometimes just recording the guitar sections and looping them until those dummy lyrics start to take shape and structure.

Things I always strive for when writing are finding interesting rhyme schemes, painting strong imagery, sticking to some kind of standard song structure – I LOVE a pop song. I remember for this specifically I got home from a band rehearsal at 5 p.m. the day the prompt was released, and sat in my room working on the song until I finally recorded the video submission around 5 a.m. that same night. It felt so good to be in the zone.

Are you playing live anywhere this summer that our audience can see you?

Friday August 23rd – Kung Fu Necktie – Philadelphia PA – Best Bear, Super Cassette, Glass Prince

Best Bear is technically headlining this show! Super Cassette is on tour from Oakland CA, and Glass Prince (past members of Philly band TIOGA) is opening.

Friday September 9th – Wilmington Brew Works – Wilmington DE – Blue Barnett (solo), Jamie and the Guarded Heart

Performing a solo set, this is one of JATGH last performances.