Mike Posner on 'Imaginary' Genre Lines, Making Music After His Dad's Death & Why It 'Feels Good' to Cry

Meredith Truax
Mike Posner

Mike Posner doesn't want to get too deep into the inspiration behind his latest single "Song About You" -- a track that "revealed itself after a really beautiful relationship had ended" -- but he did tell Billboard's Pop Shop Podcast that he isn't surprised that the song is being played across rock radio and pop radio alike.

"Genres are words to sort of split [music] up, very similar to, like, country lines being drawn on a map," Posner says of the hard-to-define "Song About You," which has hit both the Pop Songs and Alternative Songs charts. "They're imaginary. Those lines don't exist in reality. Genre is the same way. That's not saying they're bad or not useful at times, but what you're seeing is the actual music scene itself, the way we just defined it, changing. These country lines, genre lines, were drawn years ago, so they may not apply as perfectly as they once did, but they don't exist in reality. You know, on the deepest level, on the artist level, they don't matter really at all."

Something that did surprise Posner, however, was how easily the song came to him after a long day in the studio with Dan Wilson and Ricky Reed. An impromptu guitar riff from Wilson -- who has worked with Adele and Taylor Swift and was the frontman of Semisonic -- ended up becoming the opening of "Song About You," thanks to Reed (producer/songwriter for Kesha, Halsey and many more) recording the strumming on his phone. "Ricky and I wrote the song over Dan's guitar through the iPhone," Posner says, adding, "My songs tend to be lyrical, poetic, borderline pedantic at times; there's a lot of rewriting to get the perfect line. This one was the opposite."

"Song About You" will be featured on Posner's third album, which doesn't yet have a title or release date and was heavily influenced by the death of his father in January 2017. When asked whether it was a tough decision to make music about his dad's passing Posner said, "I just make music about my life, you know? So what happens in my life, what happens in my music -- there's not really any wall there. I write my own music, so life happens. There's no barrier between me and my music. There's no thing in my life where I go, 'No, can't write about that.'"

He also talked about what it will be like to tour around the upcoming album, since so many of the songs are emotionally raw.

"I sing these songs pretty much every day because I practice them," Posner says. "Sometimes I'll start crying when I play; that's probably like 5 percent of the time I'm practicing. It just hits you. I don't think it's a bad thing. It just means you connect with the song -- connects you with something, you feel something. ... I don't think it would be a bad thing if I cried onstage. I think, honestly, the way I look at it, it would be a good thing. It would be real. Not in a sort of showing-off sort of way. It feels good to me to cry sometimes. Sometimes I wish I could cry more."

Also on the show, Keith & Katie talk about chart moves for the A Star Is Born soundtrack and Travis Scott, plus tour news from Ariana Grande and Kiss and an unexpected team-up from BTS and Charlie Puth.

The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard's weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard's senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on Billboard.com.)

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