After Jason Derulo introduced his fans to a bit of a different sound with the Caribbean club banger “Swalla” earlier this year, he’s bringing things back to his poppier roots for the next single, “If I’m Lucky,” which the 27-year-old singer debuted on Good Morning America Friday (Sept. 1). Co-written with Justin Tranter, the new track finds Derulo singing about a failed relationship — but instead of being a breakup tune, “If I’m Lucky” is actually a hopeful love song.
“If I’m lucky I’ll meet ya/ Flipside of the graveyard/ ‘Cause things didn’t work out in this life but someday,” Derulo sings on the song’s chorus, suggesting that perhaps the love that failed in this life could work in the after life.
“It comes from past relationships that you think most things are good, but for some reason or another, things just don’t work out,” Derulo tells Billboard of the song’s inspiration. “They’re someone who are really compatible for you but for some reason it just doesn’t work. Hopefully that situation can pan out in the next life.”
While Derulo is very excited to have this latest track out for fans, he may be even more excited to release the song’s visual, which he says will serve as more of a film than a simple music video. But until he unveils that, Derulo wants to remind the world of the incredible dancer he is with the “If I’m Lucky” lyric video, a huge dance number with a “Thriller” feel — zombies and all — premiering on Billboard today.
Derulo chatted with Billboard about his latest track and the dance-centric lyric video ahead of the song’s release. Check out the video and what Derulo had to say below.
What do you think is special about “If I’m Lucky” that made you choose it for your next single?
I love the emotional feeling bursting. The effect of the echo, it kind of sounds like I’m in an empty room. I think it sounds like nothing else I write. It’s an emotional song that you can dance to. And the subject matter I think is really cool, it’s one that has never been talked about — having a love that fails in this life, but it was a love that was so good that maybe the love will work in the next life.
“Swalla” is now five times platinum — did the reaction to that song have any impact on the way you approached creating “If I’m Lucky”?
It didn’t have any impact, but I did want it to have a very classy follow-up. “Swalla” was a huge song, something that people love to dance to in a club and super fun, so I wanted to follow it with something that was on the opposite spectrum, something that was more emotional. With this song and the actual video, you get a whole different thing. Even the video is unlike anything I’ve ever done. I was excited to just change it up.
What is your mindset when you are creating new material, especially when you see a song react the way that “Swalla” did?
I didn’t know what to expect out of “Swalla,” but I did learn that a song in 2017 doesn’t have to be a huge radio song to become a huge song. That’s definitely eye opening. As artists, you should make music that you want to make and the rest will follow. For this, it’s the same thing. I just want to make music that I want to make, that speaks to me.
Was the zombie theme of the lyric video inspired by the “flipside of the graveyard” line in the chorus, or how did the concept come to be?
It’s the opposite of the actual video, in terms of being way more dancey and death-centric. It’s also a continuation of the actual video, which ties in from where the lyric video left off. The actual video is a film while the first video is just a huge dance number — when you see the first video, you’ll see why is one is first.
Did it not freak you out to have girls with bloody faces all over you?
I asked for the girls to be women that could still be pretty, but [the makeup artist] took it a whole other route. Which I was super pleased with in the end — I couldn’t even recognize the women at all, they turned into… others. [Laughs.] But it was really incredible, like in The Walking Dead. It’s really something to see when you’re doing it up close and personal.
You had those freaky contacts to make your eyes look scary, but why did you not have any makeup on yourself?
I had to keep it sexy, you know what I’m sayin? [Laughs.] But the contacts — I’m not really good with contacts. I’m kind of blind and I can’t really see far, so I should probably wear contacts, but my eyes reject them. I couldn’t see anything [during filming] because my eyes were in pain the entire time, but I made it happen anyway.
So is this song part of your next album? If so, what can you tell fans about what else you have coming?
I am super excited about the album. It’s called 777, because that’s jackpot. I recently reached 100 million in sales, so it feels like I hit the jackpot, like my life is a dream come true. It worked perfectly with a lot of the content of the album, and of course the title is “If I’m Lucky.” It’s an album full of vulnerability, but it also has huge party moments. It’s a roller coaster ride. I always have to create an album that has decent values, and I really think this is my best work.