Kygo Collaborator Parson James Shares Happy-Go-Lucky Song 'Sad Song': Premiere

Parson James
Jason Rodgers

Parson James

Singer-songwriter Parson James raises his glass to what could have been on his upbeat, anti-heartache anthem "Sad Song," premiering exclusively on Billboard. EDM-heads may recall the RCA Records signee for penning the Kygo hit "Stole the Show," while pop junkies may have heard his debut single "Temple," the title track from his 2016 EP

Infusing pop and gospel with soul, the South Carolina native replays the pitfalls of his relationship but doesn't let the bad times keep him down. "Now this might sound like a sad song but I just smile since you moved on," he sings on the hook. "I was lost in pain and frankly you're insane and you were no good for me and I was no good for you."

The song was inspired by a run-in with his ex at a dive bar on the east side of Los Angeles. He recounted of the impromptu meeting in an email to Billboard: "I don’t know what it is about me but dive bars feel like home, I’m comfortable in them. As he approached me, I immediately felt this flood of mixed emotions wash over me. Memories of unnecessary tears, countless drunken nights alone, etc. Within a few moments of conversation something was glaringly apparent to me. He. had. not. changed. Normally, this would’ve affected me negatively, but this time, surprisingly, I walked away relieved."

He continued, "I started writing 'Sad Song' shortly after this encounter and it became this anthem for any and everyone who has been in the tricky position of sacrificing their own happiness for someone else’s. I was always that guy."

Penning the track morphed into a life lesson. "What I learned through writing it is that there is true power in realizing your worth and even more power in accepting the fact that sometimes, that person you think you are in love with is just simply not good enough for you," he offered. "Easier said than done, I know. You may have to go through darkness to come to that realization, but it feels f---ing good on the other side. 

Edd Leigh

Do your happy dance to "Sad Song" and read the rest of Billboard's Q&A with Parson James below:

Describe the moment you fell in love with music.

There are several moments that stick out to me where I remember truly being captured by music. I grew up in a small Southern town with Baptist churches on every corner, so music was always present. Hearing those thunderous voices and experiencing the raw grit of hymns and choirs, that passion really spoke to me. Surprisingly, though, the clear moment that I remember actually wanting to pursue music and perform was after watching the movie Selena. I was 5 or 6 and at the end of the film was a video of her final concert. I was completely mesmerized and had it all figured out after that.

How did you connect with Kygo for "Stole the Show”? 

It’s funny, actually. I had written "Stole the Show" around the end of 2013 or so, and it was originally a ballad. It was immediately a favorite among myself and my team and I was really attached to it. At that time, I was prepping to release some music independently but had some label interest. One of those labels, RCA, who I am now signed with, Kygo was signed to as well. Rob, who’s now my A&R, was working on the Kygo project and played the song for his management, and they loved it and wanted to collaborate on it. I had no idea who he was. My first reaction was to say no because I was so attached to the song. Then I listened to his Marvin Gaye ["Sexual Healing"] remix and fell in love with what he was doing. Kygo and I started to message each other on Facebook shortly after and struck up a friendship and ultimately worked together on getting the song right. I absolutely love what he did with it. It’s changed my entire life. 

Do you have a personal pick-me-up song? 

"Keep on Singin' My Song" by Christina Aguilera will forever be my ultimate "F--- everyone, I’m doing me" anthem. So powerful and raw, and always puts me in a sassy lil' mood.

What can fans expect from you in the future? 

You can expect a lot of new material. I’ve been writing for the last two years for this project and have poured every ounce of my being into it. I have always made an extra effort to be as open and honest as possible. Writing and singing is therapy for me and I know the healing power music has on people. I want to continue to uplift, encourage and make people feel good. It’s the most important thing to me, so with the new material i’m going to continue to deliver that message. Also, there will be a lot more live performances, which I’m definitely looking forward to.