How many ways can a musician make a unique name for his/herself in the music industry? The exact answer is not above debate by any means, but for American Idol winners, the number of possibilities goes substantially down due to the mold that the show makes the winner into.
Many have distanced themselves from the show and have moved up from the “grandfathered” status of the music industry by being one of the best in their genre. Kelly Clarkson, winner of season one, has dominated the pop industry and has taken a stake out of it for many years, as has Carrie Underwood to a larger degree in the country music industry. Underwood’s net worth rose above $70 million in 2013, making her one of the richest persons in the industry. Those two musicians have undeniably made their name and music relevant by dominating within their respective genre.
Though, can a person make music in modern society that doesn’t fit the bill of any normal genre and be successful? That’s what season eleven winner Phillip Phillips might look to accomplish in his new LP “Behind the Light”, which was released Monday, May 19th. Featuring a plethora of musical notions and high reaching precedents within the album, each track showcases what may be truly something musically, lyrically, and meaningfully unique from the often-stale music industry.
SEARCHLIGHT – This album opener creates an issue to be resolved even before Phillip Phillips opens his mouth. The first struck note has a distinctive, unresolved tone that sets up for a introspective track. With a rather heavy, folk-y beat and a straightforward 4 beats per measure, Phillips puts his bold foot forward musically, and follows the same notion lyrically.
Pleading for a person that has left him to return again, Phillips explains how he is lost and alone (“Lost again / In this night / The sun just leads me into shadows”) and that this person is the only thing that can “bring him back to life”. Like a baseball pitcher, Phillips lunges toward his destination with his first motion and leaves intrigue as to how the momentum will be resolved throughout the rest of the album.
What’s left unsaid, say it loud / There’s a fire in me / That’s still burning
You know how to give and how to take / You see every hope I locked away /So pull me close and surrender to my heart
Inside your hand it holds the question to it all / I start to pull the trigger, I start to pull the trigger
And I’ll follow wherever you go / Right down that rabbit hole / Then everything gets dark / And I feel pulled apart
ALIVE AGAIN – Right off the bat the listener is treated to the lyric from which the album title is derived (“I see myself again / Behind the light I flicker“). This humble beginning chugs forward en route to becoming a turning point on the record. Despite of the woes expressed just recently, Phillips’ attitude buds through the avenues of the music and lyrics because of a person that has genuinely “made him feel alive again”. This may just be the results of the experiment proposed in “Raging Fire”, as the spark within him monumentally buds within the track through the musical arrangement. A soaring, powerful anthem, Phillips “throws out what makes him thin” even though “it lingers” inside of him still. Consequently, the track has a majestic-yet-restrained, stereotypical feel through the unusually smooth vocal from Phillips and the musical arrangement that resembles a power-pop ballad. Though, the notion that anything plaguing hides deep inside of him seems to be rejected as light sounds and intrinsic musical features (charicteristic of Phillips’ arrangements) hang prettily overhead his vocals like a starry night, and a powerful orchestral accompaniment below straps onto Phillip’s back like a jet pack to blast him into an uncertain future.
Throw out what makes me thin / But the harder I try, it lingers
It’s not too late to let it show / Cause it’s all yours
Everyday I wake up and I’m twisted in a dream / In between who I am and the things I want to be
Is that all that’s there through the thicket of the leaves? / Yes, yes now you see / The bird flying out why don’t you jump and see where he leads
Two-thousand faces here but I don’t mind / Am I the only one with a reason behind?
Oh, I’m on your side / She’d your shadow and watch it rise
I‘ll take it out of your head / I’ll take it out of your thoughts / give you a reason to stay / Give you a reason to not
Look how time has changed / the cracks in our skin