What makes a song sexy? Is it the lyrics? A particular groove? The tempo? Or maybe is the voice? The person signing it?
The answer is probably all of the above, though sexiness is subjective and as much dependent on intention as it is on reception – the perception of the listeners of what “sexy” is. While some artists and musical genres have come to embody sex and sensuality in the popular mind, sexiness is very much in the eye, or ear, of the beholder. Still, we can probably agree that there are songs that contain a certain intangible energy, created maybe through the combination of all or some of those elements, that manage to seduce both our senses and our imagination.
Though Phillip Phillips has covered his fair share of hot tunes—from Usher’s “Nice and Slow,” to Lil Wayne’s more explicit “Lollipop,” to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On,” to Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”—he has been more spiritual than seductive in his own writing about love (“Drive Me” from The World of the Side of the Moon is one exception). Enter Collateral, where two out of the twelve songs are openly about the more sensual side of love, “Magnetic” and of course “Love Junkie.” While “Love Junkie” expresses this through its lyrics, “Magnetic” does it more through its construction and delivery–a deliberately paced performance by Phillip that becomes intoxication in musical form.
Co-written and produced by the multi-talented songwriter and producer Nathan Chapman (best known for working with Taylor Swift and helping deliver some of her biggest hits), “Magnetic” exemplifies the new level of writing and singing that Phillip achieved in Collateral: if the writing got more direct, the vocals went on the other direction, exploring new, more complex melodic possibilities. As Phillip noted about “Magnetic” during an interview last year, “this is one of the first times I was really pushed as a vocalist. I was trying to write something that’s honest and emotional, but that song is just a sexy song and it has hooks–and we weren’t trying to write hooks, […] it just happened.” It was Chapman working his producer magic who ultimately pushed him as a vocalist into “ways I did not know I could sing.” The effort paid off, with “Magnetic” capturing a raw yet measured performance that truly showcases Phillip’s range and power as a singer.
Listen to Phillip talk about Magnetic
Form informing meaning and meaning informing form is what the best works of art are about. “Magnetic” is a song about attraction, and the melody, the lyrics and the pacing evoke this attraction throughout: “Baby, what goes up/must come back down/You’re the sky and I’m the ground,” Phillip sings in the opening verse. Though Phillip starts in his low register, as the verse progresses, his voice starts to go higher: “No matter what I do,” and higher into the falsetto “I keep falling into you,” and then starts falling again “It was hard but I figured it out.” Up and down, high and low; these are the images and they are mirrored by a heady, rollercoaster melody that effectively illustrates the ambivalence of trying to resist something you really don’t want to resist.
Phillip Phillips has sung a lot of sensuous lyrics (see the covers) but none has been sexier than “I’m right where I want to be, right where you’re wanting me,” a simple–but, oh so intense-statement that is as open ended as it is final. And if the beginning of the song is a surprise with that bright trumpet, so is the ending where Phillip is joined by a mystery female singer (the liner notes do not list the musicians’ credits) in a passionate duet that is pure electricity and release – release from all the tension that has been building during the course of the song. It’s brilliant writing, and the proof is that the song’s sexy, bluesy, slow burning spell works every time, whether on the studio version, live with a full band, or even with Phillip alone with a guitar.
It stills feels so new, yet it’s been 10 months since Collateral, Phillip Phillips’ third album, has been playing on our phones, record players and sound systems. Received with unparalleled joy by Phillip’s fans when it was released on January 19, it is clearer now that the mood of the album is much more somber and understated than we previously realized. Continue Reading →
Phillip Phillips teamed up with Vevo recently to record a couple of stripped down versions of “Magnetic” and “Dance With Me,” both off Phillip’s new album, Collateral.
If there’s one true fact about Phillip Phillips fans is that they are beautifully diverse: with a wide and eclectic musical taste, they come from many parts of the world and can be found among all age demographics and backgrounds. They are also true music lovers and passionate fans who have supported Phillip since the start, attending hundreds of concerts in the span of six years and welcoming all the musical exploration and risks Phillip has taken since the day he stepped in front of those judges on Idol. For the fans, the wait for Collateral was almost unbearable, but by all accounts and indications absolutely worth it. To celebrate this momentous release, we decided to ask the fans to review the album, one song at the time. We knew we would get some great responses, and we were not disappointed. From the haunting “Sand Castles” to the delicate “Part of My Plan,” to the full-on 90s rock “My Name,” fans are in love with Collateral and its magnificent depth and versatility. Some reviews were short, some funny and to the point, and some very moving. Almost everybody also told us how hard it was to pick just one song to write about. Here’s a review of Phillip Phillips’ Collateral by the fans.
“This song has such a good vibe to it. I love how the transition goes from slow that gets a bit faster. It is amazing. I also like hearing Phillip Phillips’ soft high pitch voice but, when really getting the emotions out, he uses his normal rough voice which brings so much more feeling out. The band really helps with this as well.” David
“Well…This, I can’t stop playing.” Unsigned
2. Part of My Plan
“Such an amazing melody! And the simple arrangement with which it starts, [with] Phillip’s gorgeous voice on the forefront. Then the harmony comes in and it gets even more beautiful! And it begins to soar… “keep on running home”…what a lovely sentiment. A very unique song, simple and elegant. Love it!” Elvan
“Part of My Plan” seems to be such an introspective piece. The lyrics describe finding strength amid fear and uncertainty. And, despite the introspection, they reach out to another when it would be so easy to continue the inward focus. They continue to an almost celebratory level of the music follows the direction of the lyrics (or vice versa?) in its delivery and intensity. The combination of lyrics and music weaves a whole fabric throughout the song, leaving the listener with a feeling of following the artist on a journey – from loneliness to the internalization of a need for another and a resulting self-fulfilling commitment to that person. Norma
“I believe this is a beautiful song about everything he’s been through in his life over the past four years. His true fans know this. It’s about Hannah, Izzy and being on the road. About knowing that being home with loved ones is the true meaning of happiness! ‘Gonna keep on running home…’ Masterful!” Unsigned
“Because I really understand what’s he talking about and I just feel it. It made me feel I mustn’t give up, here is that life after darkness… I feel the pressure of being alone in this song but I also [of] learning how to go in through it.” Mehrsa
3. My Name
“‘My Name’ is my favorite because it’s one of those songs that as soon as it comes on you want to crank it to the max and rock out while headbanging and playing your best air guitar. It’s one of those tunes that you can close your eyes and envision yourself front row at one of Phillip’s show singing along to every word as loudly as you can.” Tiffany
“It has an amazing vibe to it. You can feel Phillip jamming out without having to see him! I can’t wait to hear it live in Milwaukee and Chicago!” Susan
“It’s a Jam! It’s a fun song to sing along to and I can’t wait to hear Phillip sing it live. I know I’m gonna lose my voice when that happens.” Tyler
“A great rocker that gets your body movin’.” Jim
4. I Dare You
“The lyrics are honest, the guitar is classic rock sexy, and the playout is so gentle and beautiful. Love its contrasting sounds and moods, and its build as it moves along – multifaceted tune!” Paula
My grandfather passed this summer. This song reminds me of the songs we used to listen to in his kitchen. When I listen, it brings me back to the days him and I would dance in circles round and round while I stood on his feet. I miss him dearly. Great New album PP! Nicole
5. Sand Castles
“‘It’s hard enough to heal the pain,’ and pain it’s what Phillip sings in this song. He touches my broken heart.” Carlos
“‘Sand Castles’ is one of the most gorgeous songs I have ever heard. It has so many beautiful layers to it. Phillip’s crooning and chanting adds to the already deep and haunting feel of the song. The writing is brilliant, and the lyrics are some of his best yet.” Sylvia
When I was 15 and my sister was 9 we took the bus to see The Beatles. What we experienced for the next 6 years shaped who we are today. We saw, especially John Lennon, not a musician but an extraordinary being we could never explain. A peace activist who mobilized people to spread his message using the media. Then we lost him and the world went dark. On seeing Phillip on Idol the first time, it was when he sang “Volcano.” I got those same vibes as I experienced with the Beatles. Listening to “Sand Castles,” much like “Tell Me A Story” or “Creatures,” makes me realize he’s no ordinary musician but a much higher entity. He takes us on a journey we can’t quite understand with this song. It is so overpowering it just sends chills. Rosemarie
“Can’t get it out of my head. […]It speaks to me like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.” Connie
“It’s hauntingly beautiful with a dramatic build up to what I thought was going to be an abrupt ending, but, was given just a touch more before it softly faded away to the end. It took me on a journey that left me wanting more! The instrumentation at the end was beautiful! Love it!” Shelley
6. Don’t Tell Me
I think it’s one of the sexiest, most honest songs on the album. The song hits different emotions from lust, to remorse to just pure sassiness. Jen
“‘Don’t Tell Me’ is a playful rock stomp that opens with a funk jam similar to Phillip’s song intros at his live shows. Reminiscent of “Drive Me” from his debut The World From The Side Of The Moon, but more complex with a really cool bridge. Conjures feelings of being out with drinking buddies downing buckets of beer at a crowded local bar.” Kenny
“Just absolutely love this song. The lyrics play over and over in my head. I find myself humming and singing it after I hear it. Makes me smile!!” Unsigned
“Miles will always be my favorite because it speaks to me in a way! This song inspires me as I am too a songwriter myself. I actually first heard this song when Phillip was on tour with A Great Big World and Matt Nathanson in 2016! He played this song at the Pittsburgh concert I went too and I immediately fell in love with it! I actually knew all the lyrics to the chorus after he sang the chorus just once! Sierra
This is what you call love at first listen. We got to know this song before it was part of Collateral, first live and then as the first single from the album. I love everything about this song: the longing that just pours through the lyrics, the vulnerability in Phillips’ voice, and that sweet, amazing bridge (“Won’t you look at us…”). Listening to “Miles” within the album is equally powerful; it’s an irreplaceable piece of the perfect puzzle (in form, not content) that is Collateral. Andreina
8. Dance With Me
“This song is so beautiful. You can hear how much love he has for his wife. I absolutely love how Phillip ends the song, when the vocals are done and the music continues on. I feel it is Phillips’ way of dancing one more time with her. Love Love Love this song!” Dawn
Our only child, our daughter, passed suddenly in her sleep 12 weeks ago. She and I used to slow dance in the grocery store when she was young when a song we loved came over the speakers in the store. We just want to hold her one more time, dance with her one more time, hug and kiss her one more time. Dawn Bruce
9. Love Junkie
“Smoldering rock tune really bringing the heat. Think Lenny Kravitz with a swampy, sticky heat instead of LA glitz.” Kenny
“It’s hard to pick a favorite and it seems to change pretty quickly. This album has my emotions all over the place. Up and down and all around, Phillip takes me on a wild ride with Collateral. I can’t stop listening to it. “Love Junkie,” “My Name,” “What Will Become Of Us…” so many are my favorites!” Jasmine
10. Her Mystery
“’She’s a stone cut by the maker’s hands’ …What a beautiful deep lyric! I feel like this is a song about a wife, a mother or even someone passed. A woman who is very strong and has always been there for him. However, even though he doesn’t know or understand all her secrets, he still loves her deeply! “He will never reach Her Mystery” …. and that’s OK. Unsigned
11. What Will Become of Us
“This song is so relatable to so many things not only in personal life but our world today. It’s so simple, stripped down, and emotional. I wouldn’t be shocked if a movie or TV show used this song and it shot to the top of the charts.” Charlie
Picking a favorite Phillip Phillips song is rather like picking a favorite moment of a sunrise. Each are unique, beautiful, and move fluidly from one to the next. The entire does not detract from previous, and only heightens anticipation for future ones. I pick “What Will Become of Us” as the most intense moment/song, showcasing Phillip’s maturing emotional expressions, nuanced singing, songwriting, and collaboration with other artists. Take a moment and truly listen to this song. It will tug at the heart and threaten the most stoic with misty eyes. Unsigned
“This song speaks volumes to me as someone I love is going and it made me cry, no lies…The way he plays with his voice is so touching and thrilling.” Unsigned
“Trying to pick a favorite song from Collateral is like trying to choose your favorite child. Fortunately, I only had one child! I chose “What Will Become of Us” because it is the first song in all the songs that Phillip has recorded that brings me to my knees and makes me weep from the first note. However, every song is magnificent! Well worth the wait!” Cheryl
12. Into The Wild
“This song makes me emotional for some reason, even though it’s an upbeat song. It’s so pretty and I love what it’s about. If you’re in love with someone, you can relate so much and I love that.” Unsigned
“This song speaks to me about being young, alive and full of energy and so in love with your soulmate that nothing will separate you from each other.” Dawn