Remember all of those posts you saw on Facebook about the new year? Captions reading “new year, new me” and “page one of 365.” Remember how you felt after seeing that same post for the hundredth time? Well not only was Facebook the home of cheesy and inspirational messages but also on January 1st, 2016 Rachel Platten released her debut album Wildfire, chock full of similar clichés for the new year.
Platten is most well-known for her single Fight Song released in early 2015. Listening to such uplifting lyrics like “This is my fight song / Take back my life song / Prove I’m alright song / My power’s turned on,” how could you not feel motivated to take over the world? Yet, how could you also not feel like vomiting from the disgusting, glittery, “been there, done that” clichés, which would only be excusable if her voice weren’t what we hear every day on any popular radio station. So since she’s only working with mediocre pipes, she should come up with less tacky, more genuine lyrics that could definitely add more style to her music.
The song Better Place is classic Platten: pretty piano notes fluttering like butterflies and high notes about “kisses” and the “ocean breeze.” In the beginning she creates a buildup, similar to Fight Song, and you wait for that killer climax that’s never going to come. As you force yourself to listen to the whole song because of such a graceful melody, waiting for the big turning point of the song, you realize it is already over. Despite Platten’s pretty sound in Better Place, the song turns out to be a disappointment due to the lack of change in melody, making the song go from lovely to boring.
On the other side, you’ll be praising hallelujah when you listen to the stand out Hey Hey Hallelujah. Rather than a slow song with dramatic lyrics fitting for staring out the window, watching the rain trickle down the window, Hey Hey Hallelujah is perfect for a Friday afternoon, when you come home from school, throw off your backpack, and rejoice because it’s the weekend. Hallelujah! The beginning jumps right into upbeat instrumentals, forcing you to bop your head to the energetic sound. And as if the song couldn’t get any more fun, artist Andy Grammer is featured towards the end where he sings, “Love me like you should and you make me wanna scream Hallelujah.” A simple blend of joy, relief, and excitement, and the song that stands out from the others, Hey Hey Hallelujah, is born.
It’s understandable that the name of the song with the most killer beat on the album is titled Speechless, because that is the immediate reaction after one listens to it. The techno sounds and beat lurking in the background of Platten’s sincere tone in her lyrics “Cause you make me speechless / You quiet my demons / Swallow me whole tonight and just kill me silently” are nothing less than dramatic and enticing. Speechless provides such a genuine feeling, unlike much of the other songs like Better Place and Fight Song; it doesn’t feel fake or cheesy, which makes the song so much more attractive.
Rachel Platten has potential to sing both fun and entertaining songs, as well as emotional songs. Clearly, Hey Hey Hallelujah and Speechless prove that. Unfortunately, as a whole, the album Wildfire proves to be nothing more than sickeningly cheesy and inspirational, with only a couple of songs revealing Platten’s true talent.