Much to the excitement of the hundreds of thousands of his dedicated fans (or #Philatics, for the trendy), American Idol winner Phillip Phillips has recently opened iTunes pre-orders for his upcoming album, Behind the Light , which is set for release on May 19th. Better yet? Those of you who pre-order the impending record now (available in both standard and deluxe sets) will receive digital copies of both Behind the Light’s lead single, “Raging Fire”, and a brand-new ditty entitled “Fly”. People who follow my articles will know already that I’d already lauded the former of the two tracks with a rave review, having essentially jotted it down as one of my surefire AAA hits of the season for the same reasons “Home” and “Gone, Gone, Gone” were such million-unit-pushers for the Georgian singer/songwriter. Well, hey, with “Raging Fire” already picking up a multitude of adds on radio stations nationwide regardless of its lack of tremendous promotion thus far, it’d seem that prediction of mine won’t be too far off. The question now is, how would “Fly” work out for Phillips on the radio by comparison?
Intrinsically? The answer has ought to be “not as much”. The real kicker about that answer, though? It’s actually a good thing. The more that Phillips promotes songs from off of his impending album, the more clear-cut it becomes that this isn’t just a record full of individual tracks that may or may not become hits for their pop sensibility, but rather that it’s full of tracks that come together as a cohesive whole and dare to tell more of a story than ever before within, and they do so with or without the folk/roots sounds that’ve boded so well for him thus far. Unlike many other breakout artists before him, including some fellow Idol winners, Phillips is daring to go places we wouldn’t expect him to go musically — he’s daring to evolve — and in that, he might well find more success than he ever would with staying in one sonic space for the span of his career.
“Raging Fire” in and of itself is a top-notch tune meant for the radio to embrace in its catchy, folk-flavored instrumental hooks and sing-along chorus to boot, whereas “Fly” is a track meant to represent the meat of an album already promised to be considerably more hard-edged than ever before. In “Fly”, Phillips makes the transition deeper into the alternative rock scene rather effortlessly, definitely never sacrificing the tremendous instrumentals that we’ve come to know him as an arranger for and most definitely never sacrificing a thing when it comes to his hugely brooding, idiosyncratic voice and style.
Phillip Phillips has never quite rocked out up to this point in the way that he does on “Fly”, and he does so so very well. In saying that this track won’t necessarily be the immediate radio hit that “Raging Fire” was, I don’t meant that it’s impossible for it to sell on the market should it ever be released for adds. It’s quite the contrary, really; though Phillips’ core audience may need a bit of time to lean into the heavier rock and roll atmosphere that he’s set up for us in this track, it maintains the structure of positively infectious past hits very well — just with much more of a raw swagger to be taken along with it. He’s produced something both unexpected and brilliant, ushering in an era of purer rock music that hasn’t been heard from a mainstream artist in as genuine a way as he is able to bring about in a long, long while. It’s the type of rock-heavy song that could do especially well as the leading track on a movie soundtrack!
Do yourself a favor and go pick up “Fly” (and, potentially, a Behind the Light pre-order on iTunes by following the corresponding links in this review’s first paragraph). For all of the latest on Phillips, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and for all of the latest reviews, interviews, and more, make sure to follow me on Twitter as well!
By the way…
That guitar solo?