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.
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.
Phillip Phillips’ co-headlining tour with Gavin DeGraw started last week with a string of back to back shows that ended on Sunday at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Continue Reading →
The summer just got a little hotter – “Magnetic,” the first song from Collateral has received the video treatment. It’s been four long years since Phillip released a full concept video, the last one being the colourful fantasy of “Unpack Your Heart.”Continue Reading →
I apologise if it may take a moment for Phillip Phillips fans to unpack that title, because all at once earlier today Phillip released a new song, announced the title and release date of his third album and a list of new tour dates!
Simply titled Collateral, Phillip’s third album will finally be released into our hands, and the world, on January 19, 2018. Soon after, on February 9th, Phillip will launch his Magnetic Tour across the US where he will be stopping at some amazing venues along the way. If this wasn’t enough, tied in with the announcement was the release of “Magnetic,” a song Phillip debuted on tour last year. Both “Magnetic” and the album announcement were accompanied by their covers. And though they are quite different in their approach, they do both feature striking images of Phillip with his guitar.
It has been quite a different experience to listen to the studio version of Phillip’s new singles “Miles” and now “Magnetic;” both of which were performed heavily during his summer tour and even earlier shows. Whereas at a show the energy of a song is magnified by the volume, the venue’s acoustics, the crowd, and obviously the presence of the musicians, listening through your headphones to a studio version is about intimacy and the discovery of musical detail and musical choices.
From the start “Magnetic” was a fan favourite, in large part thanks to its mid-tempo, instant sing-along-ability. Though the studio version is not a huge departure from the version we heard live, I was still surprised by a lot of things when I first listened to it: the bright horns opening the song, the beautiful sound of the bass and drums, that extremely well-placed guitar, and a cool effect I still have not been able to figure out. Still the best surprise is at the end, a great bit of backing vocals, by a female singer, which definitely is a departure for Phillip. This is a phenomenal recording in my opinion, and I had goosebumps all over when the full band came in the first time and Phillip’s voice soared effortlessly on the chorus. Also, there is no more avoiding it, this song is dripping in sexiness: it’s a lush, intense, sensual musical metaphor of being near that person who is simply magnetic to us, from the lyrics (“pushing and pulling me”) right to that ending with those battling (in this case) male and female vocals. Also, Phillip’s voice has never sounded more amazing.
I am so happy and excited to hear who “the new Phillip” is (as per his words) on his new album; thankfully today we know we won’t have to wait that much longer.
Follow the links below to get “Magnetic,” pre-order the new album, and see all the tour dates!