Allen Centeno is an alternative singer/songwriter. His music has a dark, ironic, angry and melancholy feel in it, yet it contains hints of love, hope, and strength. He instinctively composes sad cored and, sometimes aggressive, songs.
Heartbreaks and hardships led him to write poems then eventually he started to build melodies for these painful words and he ironically fell in love – he fell in love with songwriting. It became his way of expressing his art. Allen Centeno’s shyness comes in the way when he speaks but not when he performs his songs. His deep bass tone dynamically transforms to thin pop-ish sound unto eerie falsetto. His imperfections, ugliness, and darkness are his main artistic traits but these are where the beauty and horror of his music come from.
Allen Centeno honed his talent performing on stage when he was in high school and jamming around with his guitarist with whom he first wrote his very first song. But he had to leave all of it when he moved to Italy. Without anyone playing the guitar for him, he learned the guitar and the piano by himself and started to write songs by ear without even knowing the name of the chords. He then enrolled at CPM Music Institute in Milan, Italy to study Contemporary Music, majoring in Voice. Unexpectedly, right after finishing the first year, he got signed by an indie label and he started producing his experimental debut album entitled “Touch Ground” that was released in March 2015 from which three singles were extracted (“Who Are You?”, “Touch Ground” and “Bravery”).
Now, with a new found sound but still retaining his sadcore vibe, Allen Centeno pours his heart out and shows his true self. With the released of the single “Dark Water” at the end of 2017, he declares war against homophobia, discrimination, and racism that he himself underwent. This track is darker, edgier and stronger than before. Its upbeat electronic-synth tempo comprises two distinct tempos that surprise the listeners. The video for the single represents the society in its full complexity. The black veil, the chains on his neck and the “Dark Water” that goes into his mouth are the metaphors of how he experienced the hardships of being gay and Asian in a foreign land.
On 20th April 2018, Allen Centeno released the single “How To Forget A Fucker” which is the opposite of the edgy “Dark Water”. Sonically, it’s more of a back-to-basics arrangement, mixing the acoustic instruments with electronic bass. In this track, he shows his vulnerability and his weakness to love. It’s not the usual “You broke my heart, now I’m stronger” song. No, it’s a song about the truth of a broken heart, of a lost true love and not being able to move on. One suffers and gets shaken from within and affects one’s very existence. The video for this single has two timelines: the happy moments with his ex-boyfriend leading to the argument then reconciliation; the latter, Allen reminisces his love story while going to desperation and melancholy. “How To Forget A Fucker” is one of the few videos that depicts a gay love story in Italy. A theme that is not yet confronted by many. Instead of hiring a female actress, Allen Centeno fought his fears and featured a boy in his video to show his real story and of the other individuals out there. Gay or straight, all suffer from a broken heart.
Allen Centeno then released a single that precedes “HTFAF” on September 2018 along with another visual statement: the horns. The song title is “Intoxicated” which tells the story of him not being able to break free from the toxic relationship. The horns come from an italian saying “farsi mettere le corne” which means being cheated on. The single was realeased with a vertical lyric video.
The new year of 2019 finally came. I wouldn’t be Allen Centeno if he doesn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day with a heartbreaking song. On February 14, 2019, he released the fourth single and his sophomore album both entitled “Better”. The single itself is a form of an illusion, an irony. The lyrics tell that he has now moved on and feeling better but sonically, it is devastating. It starts with a mellow voice and piano then gets to the finale with an explosion of sounds and emotions. The video shows Allen trying to put a smile on his face but failing with it and taking his heart out to not feel any emotions anymore.
“Better” as a body of work is an alternative pop album. It contains dark, upbeat and ballad songs on pop melodies to lighten up the ironic and melancholic lyrics. Its a journey from the hardships of growing up to the pains of falling in and out of love.