After conquering radio airwaves with her breakthrough single “Fight Song,” Rachel Platten is giving listeners a glimpse of a more vulnerable side.
In a Billboard exclusive, Platten shares “Beating Me Up,” a track from her major label debut EP, Fight Song EP, due May 12 through Columbia Records. Centered on a chorus of pounding drums, “Beating Me Up” finds an exasperated Platten trying (and failing) to move on from a failed relationship. Her inability to reconcile leads her to plead, “I wish my heart would stop beating me up.”
2015 has already marked a breakthrough year for the 33-year-old singer-songwriter. With “Fight Song,” a pounding declaration of conquering adversity, Platten evoked comparisons to Katy Perry’s “Roar” and Sara Bareilles’ “Brave.” The track has already become a top 20 hit on Adult Contemporary, and this week leaps into the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100.
As Platten gears up for a busy week featuring her EP release and her network debut on Good Morning America (May 14), Billboard spoke with the singer-songwriter to learn more about the success of “Fight Song,” the process behind Platten’s songwriting and her upcoming tour with Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri.
Your EP drops on Tuesday, and “Fight Song” has been getting a lot of the attention. Is that the same sound that will dictate the EP?
Yes and no. I think people will be surprised by the sound by one of them, in a great way, which I’m really excited for. Both of the new ones have the same raw honesty in the lyrics, and they’re both telling more parts of my story. I think you find universal truth when you get really honest with yourself and you can reach people. If you go deep enough, you have that core feeling, and that feeling can transcend the details of your experience.
As you wrote “Fight Song,” was there one specific experience that inspired it?
You know, I’ve been doing this career for a really long time, but there was not a lot of reason, at the time when I wrote “Fight Song,” to believe that I should keep going. There were a lot of signs pointing to me needing to find something else. It was breaking my heart, and “Fight Song” was this declaration that I really wasn’t going to quit, that, it didn’t matter. Even if I was only going to reach a couple of people a night, I was still gonna do this, I was still gonna find a way to make music and create. I just needed it at the time, you know, I needed that reminder that I believed in myself no matter what.
It must be special that a song you have a strong connection to has become your breakthrough hit.
I keep looking at my manager and saying, “I can’t believe I’m doing it the right way.” The right way meaning it’s with the message that I truly believe. There’s this misconception in the industry that you might have to go a little lighter or skate on the surface in order to reach people – and then in your second album, you get to tell who you are. I’m just proud that what I believe is what’s breaking me. When I’m at the radio station or on TV, I can speak from my heart and explain, “God, this is just exactly how I feel about the world and this is what the world wanted to hear right now, or needed to hear right now.”
You’ve also started a #MyFightSong trend on Twitter, allowing fans to send messages about how the song has helped them. What’s the response been like?
I have tears in my eyes so many times a day. I’ll just casually check my Twitter or Instagram, and there’s this amazing video of some child who — one of them, a child who’s a dancer, and she had her leg amputated recently because she had blood cancer. The second she got out of her surgery, she played “Fight Song” and learned to dance on one leg. Like, what?! It’s validating but so much more than that — it’s connecting. These experiences we share are so common, and when we reach out and admit the hardships, there’s this rush of love and support from the community. It’s so amazing to watch, and maybe be a catalyst for.
Several people have compared “Fight Song” to some recent hit anthem songs by Kelly Clarkson and Katy Perry. What’s it like seeing your song compared to these major hits?
Those songs are so amazing. I personally love “Roar” [by Katy Perry] and “Brave [by Sara Bareilles]. I love Kelly Clarkson’s message and I’ve heard comparisons to P!nk. I think I’m halfway in between, like, yeah, I’m deserving of those comparisons because of how hard I’ve worked and because of how authentic this message is, but I’m also in shock that three months ago, I was about to play a house concert to like 30 people and I didn’t think I really had a chance in the industry. I’m working on feeling like, “Yeah, that’s true, man! Thanks!”
As the EP drops, you’ll be hitting the road on tour with Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri.
They’re both so incredible. They’re great songwriters and are both lovely people, but they also have this message of empowerment and self-acceptance in their music that really resonates, and I’m thrilled to be a part of that. My manager and I were thinking, “This is gonna be a perfect tour.” Not only for the girl power thing, but also for the boys too. I have a lot of male fans that this resonates with, but the title of the tour is “Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too,” so that about sums it up [laughs].