You probably haven't heard of Haley Joelle. That's partially by design.
If you Google her name, you'll find a modest SoundCloud page and a personal Twitter account, but nothing to indicate that the 18-year-old from West Linn is the co-writer and the voice behind one the country's genuine club bangers. Because she's still in high school, her parents have made sure not to push her too far into the spotlight. But the spotlight has found her anyway.
Two years ago, Joelle wrote a song that was sent to veteran Swedish DJ and producer StoneBridge called "Meet in the Middle." Since its release 10 weeks ago, the pop-house confection, which also features Joelle's vocals, has steadily made its ascent. It's currently sitting at No. 4 on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart—meaning it's the fourth most-played song in nightclubs across the country.
For the song's author, the success was sudden—and a little strange.
Joelle has written songs from a young age. "I was about 8 years old, and I remember going on walk with my parents," she says. "I had an idea for a song, and that was my first song." She says she's written close to 200 since then, four of which she recorded for her debut EP, My Own Voice, which she self-released in October.
At age 16, she began attending songwriting competitions, which led her to meeting L.A.-based producer Richard Harris, who asked her to come work with him in California. She co-wrote two songs with Harris, one of which was "Meet in the Middle." He passed it along to StoneBridge, who sat on it for two years before finally releasing it in late December.
"It was honestly so weird. I've never even met him," Joelle says. "I've never even talked on the phone with him. It was all through email."
According to Billboard, "Meet In the Middle" is getting spun in dance clubs more often than songs by Rihanna and Selena Gomez—clubs Joelle is not even old enough to attend herself. It's a surreal experience, though it's yet to change her day-to-day life much. Other than the guy in her AP statistics class who congratulated her on her recent chart placement, most of her classmates at West Linn High School are unaware of what's happening.
It also hasn't changed her life's trajectory. She's still planning to attend college next year, preferably in a big "music city" like Nashville. She knows she wants to write songs for a living, either for herself or others.
"I want to be force in the pop music world," she says.