Neon Jungle were a British four-piece girl group consisting of Shereen Cutkelvin, Amira McCarthy, Jessica Plummer, and Asami Zdrenka. They were best known for their second single "Braveheart", which peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart. Their 2014 debut and only album, Welcome to the Jungle, features "Braveheart" alongside fellow top 10 single "Welcome to the Jungle", as well as the top 20 entries "Trouble" and "Louder". The group separated in 2015.
The group were formed by music manager David Cooper of Eye of the Storm, who began a three-month process of auditions in November 2012. Amira McCarthy and Jessica Plummer were initially scouted separately while shopping in London, while Shereen Cutkelvin and Asami Zdrenka were found via their solo YouTube videos. Cutkelvin, McCarthy, Plummer, and Zdrenka were told in February 2013 that they had made the line-up, and the same week the group began recording material in the studio. RCA Records UK signed the group by June 2013 and showcased them at a press event, although they did not have a name at the time. They chose the name Neon Jungle, which was derived from their song "Welcome to the Jungle" and to reflect that the members were "all individual and quite different". According to Plummer, "it’s like neon is bold, bright, strong individual characters and then the jungle part is the madness".
In August 2013, Neon Jungle released their debut single "Trouble", which entered the UK Singles Chart at number 12 and reached the top 10 on the US Billboard Dance/Electronic Digital Songs chart. During October, the group supported Jessie J on select dates of her Alive Tour, and the following month they performed alongside Taylor Swift at the annual Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in the US. Neon Jungle's second single, "Braveheart", was released in the UK in January 2014 and peaked at number four on the UK Singles Chart. The group had decided that the song's high octane energy and major bass made it the best option for their second single. Neon Jungle released the song "Welcome to the Jungle" as their third single in April 2014; it debuted at number seven. The same month, they were signed to RCA Records in the United States.
The group performed at various UK music festivals during mid 2014, including Wireless Festival, T in the Park and the Blackpool Illuminations Switch-On Festival Weekend. Their debut album, Welcome to the Jungle, was released in July 2014 following the single "Louder" (number 14), and entered the UK Albums Chart at number eight.Welcome to the Jungle features songwriting and production contributions from Charli XCX, CocknBullKid, Cassie Davis, Fear of Tigers, Snob Scrilla, and soFLY & Nius. The group described the album as having "the same energy and attitude that came from Trouble" and "raw, stripped-back and versatile". The album includes a cover of Banks's "Waiting Game", which attracted publicity after Banks publicly acknowledged her dissatisfaction with the cover's release months prior to that of her own debut album, Goddess; Neon Jungle declined to respond to her comments. A fifth single, "Can't Stop the Love", was released in December 2014.
The group's contract with RCA Records was terminated in May 2015. Cutkelvin said the following month that the group were searching for a new label, writing new material and continuing to perform live. In July 2015, Neon Jungle announced via social media that they were disbanding. They are nominated at the 2015 Teen Choice Awards in the category of Choice Music: Next Big Thing.
Neon Jungle described their music as being "pop, a bit of bashment, dubstep, grime and rock". Their sound was described by The Guardian as "pop-dance with a dash of punky" and "a cross between the chanty agit-pop of Icona Pop and the rumbling, EDM-tinged noise that fills the radio", and by The Independent as "edgy pop". Plummer said that the group were "not into a particular genre of music, we don’t want to be soul, we don’t want to be R&B or hip-hop, we want to be a new flavour".
Zdrenka commented on the diversity of their singing voices, characterising Cutkelvin's as "soulful", McCarthy’s as "raspy" and having "that belt voice as well", Plummer's as having "a nice tone", and her own as "moody".
Born on 2 December 1996 (age 19), is from Lanark, Scotland. She is the youngest member of the band. Cutkelvin admits her shyness, but claims she's "been singing since she could walk and talk". She was inspired by her father, and considers him her "musical idol". Cutkelvin mentions she feels she was "born in the wrong generation", and mentions her love for Motown and soulful music with the likes of Diana Ross and The Temptations. Cutkelvin posted covers of herself on YouTube, along with videos with her family. She was later discovered and invited to audition, and mentions she got the call to confirm her place in the group on her way back to her home in Scotland. Cutkelvin also mentions working for Sony before joining the group.
Born 2 February 1996 (age 20), in London, McCarthy stated that she has always known that performing was something she wanted to do. She has said that the moment she realised that the route she wanted to go down was music as opposed to acting or dancing was when she took part in a singing competition at her school Westminster Academy. Similarly to Plummer, McCarthy was scouted to be in the group, found in Westfields Shopping Centre, west London. McCarthy later auditioned and made the final four. She is of Jamaican descent.
Jessica Kate Plummer
Born in London on 16 September 1992 (age 23), is the oldest member of the band and had previously worked as an actress. She appeared in two episodes of the CBBC series Wizards vs Aliens. Her musical idols include Mariah Carey, Beyoncé Knowles, Rihanna and Jessie J. Plummer was discovered through the group's manager in Brick Lane, London, and from there was invited to auditions.
Born 15 September 1995 (age 20) in Japan, Zdrenka was born to Japanese and British parents, and moved to the UK at an early age. Zdrenka has said that she has always loved to sing, and as a child, when her father took her on holiday back to Japan, he would make her sing to her family. Zdrenka's mother julie was a singer and her grandfather has released albums in Japan. Zdrenka was also spotted online, through videos of herself singing on YouTube, catching the attention of the label. Following Neon Jungle's split, Asami is working on solo material, and released a video series entitled A Cover Trilogy.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|Welcome to the Jungle||8||48|
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|2013||"Trouble"||12||–||–||4||9||Welcome to the Jungle|
|"Welcome to the Jungle"||7||–||46||4||–|
|"Can't Stop the Love"|
(featuring Snob Scrilla)
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
Awards and nominations
|2014||Glamour Women of the Year Awards||Band of the Year||Nominated|
|Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards||UK Favourite Breakthrough||Nominated|
|2015||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Music: Next Big Thing||Nominated|