Alex Clare's song "Too Close" is presently Number Nine on the Billboard Hot 100, cementing it s a bonafide smash hit in the United States. But unlike other acts in the Top 10 right now, like household names Taylor Swift and Maroon 5, and ubiquitous rising stars Psy and Carly Rae Jepsen, casual pop fans are very unlikely to know Clare by name. But if you've watched television or visited a movie theater since March, you've almost definitely heard his song, as it is featured in a seemingly omnipresent ad campaign for Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9:
1. "TOO CLOSE" ACTUALLY CAME OUT LAST YEAR
The song was first released as a single in April of 2011, three months before Clare's solo debut The Lateness of the Hour hit stores in his native England. The song came to the attention of Microsoft some time later, but just in the nick of time for Clare, who had been dropped by his label in the U.K. due to weak sales and personal commitments that kept him from accepting an opening-act slot on Adele's fall tour.
2. HE ALMOST QUIT MUSIC
Clare had basically given up on his music career before landing the Microsoft deal and told Billboard that he was "acting as a slum lord" in East London.
3. HIS ALBUM WAS CO-PRODUCED BY MAJOR LAZER
Superstar DJs Diplo and Switch co-produced Clare's album, which explains why a bearded singer-songwriter dude is wailing over a thudding dubstep bass drop. The novelty factor of "Too Close" goes a long way – it's almost certainly the first power ballad to substitute big guitars with dubstep wubs.
4. HE USED TO DATE AMY WINEHOUSE
Clare hooked up with Winehouse when she was on a break from her on-and-off boyfriend Blake Fielder-Civil, but he insists that none of the songs on his record directly address their relationship. "There were a lot of emotions there that obviously didn't end up at the time it was happening, but we got to a very good place," he told Billboard. "We stayed friends above all."
5. HE'S AN ORTHODOX JEW
Clare takes his faith very seriously, and will not perform, travel or work on the Sabbath or on Jewish holidays.