Coachella's Cool Kids: Father John Misty | Hozier | Brittany Howard
Of course no one, least of all Hozier himself, imagined that this cerebral kid from the Irish countryside whose Plan B was to become a shrink would emerge as one of the year's most unlikely hitmakers, tucked into the top reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 between the more manscaped likes of Pitbull and Maroon 5. "On 'Take Me to Church,' " says Hozier, referring to his provocative hit, which borrows the language of Catholicism to describe the glory of sex, "the vocals were recorded in my attic." The song, from his self-titled debut album, has gained stature not only for its near-operatic vocal intensity, but as an instant baby-making classic; it topped website xoJane's 2015 sex-song playlist and steamed up the Grammys, where Hozier performed with Annie Lennox. Meanwhile, superfan Taylor Swift touted the follow-up single, "Work Song," on Twitter (in a tweet to Victoria's Secret model Lily Aldridge, no less) as a "perfect song."
Hozier, Brittany Howard & Father John Misty: The Billboard Cover Shoot
Billboard 200 Chart Moves: 'Hozier' Has Sold a Half-Million
This time last year, Hozier was wondering if the bats in that attic would be the only witnesses to his emotional outpourings. "I'd made a conscious decision to write music for a much smaller audience. I did not think it would resonate with mainstream culture." Now he's one of the most hotly anticipated acts at Coachella, an event he has never been to, and one he calls "one of the big mother" festivals.
Watch Hozier Host a Weird Dance Party in 'Work Song' Video
Touring the world has offered Hozier a chance to make up for lost time. Growing up, he says, "I was a pretty well-behaved kid, much to my regret." But by mid-adolescence, it occurred to him that following the rules was ruining his life. "I realized I'd rather not please people and not loathe every minute of existence," he remembers with a laugh. "So I turned away from all that and started doing what I wanted to do: music."