By MIKE CHAIKEN
“Fight Song” has grabbed everybody’s aural attention this spring into summer.
As of last week, Rachel Platten’s song had reached no. 13 on the Billboard pop charts. It reached no. 5 on the iTunes chart. Rachel had a chance to perform the song on the Radio Disney Music Awards. She was a VH1 “You Oughta Know” artist.
And at the recent Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen pageant, “Fight Song” provided the soundtrack for the contestants as they walked out onto stage in their evening gowns and to answer their onstage questions.
Asked how it felt for her song to be receiving so much attention, Rachel—calling from New York City—said, “It feels really, really special. It feels like I get to introduce myself to that the world.”
Rachel—who comes to Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Arena on July 10 with the Girls Night Out, Boys Can Come Too Tour with Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri— seems like a newcomer on the scene. But the Boston native has been knocking at the door of pop success for 10 years. She has toured with The Strokes, Lady Gaga, Matt Nathanson, The Fray, and Gavin DeGraw. She also had a top 20 hit on adult pop radio in 2011, “1,000 Ships.”
But “Fight Song” has become a pop phenomenon this summer.
The song’s lyrics reflect Rachel’s experiences as a musician, struggling to make herself heard. But the lyrics’ message of perseverance can be adapted for any struggle someone is experiencing.
“This is my fight song/ Take back my life song/ Prove I’m all right song /My power’s turned on/ Starting right now I’ll be strong…And I don’t really care if nobody else believes/ ‘Cause I’ve still got a lot of fight left in me,” sings Rachel.
Rachel, who is earnest and endearing, and grateful, throughout the interview, said she is so glad fans have embraced the song’s message of believing in yourself and empowering yourself.
Given the significance of the song to many fans, Rachel has a page on her website, RachelPlatten.com, that asks her fans, “How has ‘Fight Song’ inspired you?”
And fans have posted all sorts of video messages and text messages in response to Rachel’s request.
One fan, for instance, posted: “‘Fight Song’ has helped me because the song helps me overcome my own anxiety and doubts. It has helped me realize who I really am and stand up for myself, and believe in myself when I feel like no one else does.”
Rachel said when she reads the stories of her fans, she is often in tears. “These people are so incredible,” she said, “they’re so brave.”
One story of a fan, however, held particular resonance for Rachel. The woman had cancer. So she wrote to friends and family to tell them she didn’t know how much time she had left. The woman’s rallying cry though this time of need was “Fight Song.”
When Rachel heard this woman’s story, she felt she needed to do something. So when the woman’s friends and family gathered to comfort her, Rachel joined them as a surprise for the woman.
“Fight Song” also has won the ears of one of the biggest pop stars in the business, Taylor Swift. Rachel was a special guest on Taylor’s “1989” tour. (“She was so generous and so kind,” said Rachel of Taylor during her tour.)
When Rachel began to perform “Fight Song” at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Swift stepped up on stage to sing it in duet with Rachel.
“That was amazing,” said Rachel of Swift’s guest appearance in her set. “It showed… how much the song has resonated (with people).”
As for Rachel’s musical influences, the singer-songwriter said she has always been drawn to songs with a strong melody. She loves strong lyrics. She also noted that she studied classical piano when she was growing up so that has an impact on her music as well.
Rachel also loves singers who exhibit passion in their voice.
Growing up, she said she heard her mother play soul music in the house. Her father loved listening to the Rolling Stones. Both parents enjoyed the sounds of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.
Music, she said, is “infused in my body and fingertips.”
Rachel has been trying for over 10 years to catch the ear of America. And thanks to “Fight Song,” she will be heading out this summer with two celebrated young songwriters, Christina Perri and Colbie Callait.
“It’s really, really exciting,” said Rachel of the tour. “They’re both so inspirational. They also stand for the same things I stand for… Girl power and believing in yourself.”
For the fans of both these artists, Rachel said, “Fans will enjoy the songs I have written.”
“I’m so excited,” said Rachel of her upcoming performances. “I have so many great songs.”
Currently, Rachel is touring behind a four song EP, which includes “Fight Song.” But a full-length album is ready for release. “It’s not all anthems (like ‘Fight Song’),” said Rachel. But she said the lyrics ring true. The songs are honest. And they reflect her own personal stories and how she sees the world.
When fans hear the new album, Rachel said, “I hope it helps people cope with pain and loss and makes them feel blessed.”
Beyond the summer tour and a new album, Rachel said, “I hope I am able to keep spreading this message (of ‘Fight Song’). It’s so incredible.”
Rachel Platten comes to the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday, July 10 at 7:30 p.m. with Christina Perri and Colbie Caillat. The show begins at 7:30 p.m.
For more information, go to MoheganSun.com or RachelPlatten.com.
By MIKE CHAIKEN