There's a man at the top of Carnaby Street singing "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright". No, it's not 1964. It's last Thursday. And the man in the floppy felt hat and sunglasses, strumming and singing for the benefit of a gathering crowd, is not Bob Dylan; he's 35-year-old Joshua Radin. Not everyone in the crowd knows who Radin is, but they stay to listen to his songs – and if they watch any US television, there's a good chance they've heard some of them before.
Radin wrote his first song just five years ago, he tells me after the impromptu gig. Until then, the Ohio native had been teaching and trying to make it as a screenwriter. But when his friend, the actor Zach Braff, heard a demo of Radin's recording "Winter", he had it used for the soundtrack of his TV show, Scrubs. Four more of Radin's song's (from his debut LP We Were Here) made it into the show, Braff appeared in his first music video, and soon the singer was touring with Imogen Heap and Tori Amos.
His website gets 1.8 million hits per month; his MySpace boasts almost 18 million listens; and his second album, Simple Times, has sold 5,000 copies on iTunes in the UK, where he also recently played a sold-out show at Shepherds Bush Empire – and all this without (until now) a UK record company. His viral popularity, says Radin, is all thanks to his songs being used in TV and film, which he wouldn't be the first to call "the new radio". Already, every song on the album has been licensed to a TV show, including House, Grey's Anatomy, 90210, and Bones. Simple Times will (finally) be released by 14th Floor Records on 10 August.