London-born singer Ella Mai has stormed the charts with her song “Boo’d Up,” with the track peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, while also being certified platinum by the National Recording Industry of America (RIAA) and topping the Adult R&B Songs airplay chart. As part of the “How It Went Down” video series, Billboard sat down with Mai to find out a bit more about the hit.
The song, which was recorded over a year ago in January 2017, appeared on Ella Mai’s third EP Ready, which dropped in February of that year. That was around the same time when she was supporting Kehlani on tour and, as Mai explains, at the start of the tour, “Boo’d Up” didn’t even make an appearance on her set list.
“I thought it was too new and I was like, ‘No one’s gonna know what I’m talking about,’ so I just left it out and performed some of my older songs,” Ella Mai tells Billboard. However, when she spoke with fans after the shows at her merch booth, they would constantly ask why the song wasn’t being performed live. So due to popular demand, Mai decided to add it to her set.
“I saw such a change in the response from the audience every night once I put ‘Boo’d Up’ in,” she shares. “And everyone would tell me how much they loved the song and how much they enjoyed the performance of the song so I was like ‘OK, maybe this is something.’”
Mai also reacts to the chart success of “Boo’d Up,” revealing that she was speechless when she found out that the song broke into the top 20.
“I literally had no words,” she says. “I definitely believe that there are songs that, as artists, we don’t know the full potential. It’s definitely been amazing to watch the climb from debuting at 78 to being all the way at No. 6 in nine or 10 weeks is amazing.”
You can watch the video above to hear more from Ella Mai discussing her song “Boo’d Up,” and listen to the track below.