Do you like cute boys with deep thoughts and wounded hearts? When they look up from their black coffee with soulful eyes, do you feel woozy? When they stretch their arms over their heads, pulling up their faded blue t-shirts to show their happy trails, do you have to catch your breath? When they clutch their guitars so tightly while they’re sitting on your windowsill, looking out at a world that’s too beautiful and painful to be believed, do you want to frame every scrap of poetry they’ve ever scribbled on the back of an REI receipt?
If you do, then this is a great week for you. Right now, two of the bestselling songs in America are by sensitive, singing boys who make beautiful folk-rock music and feel very beautiful things.
First, there’s “I Will Wait,” the brand new single from Mumford & Sons. I love their first album Sigh No More, which injects folk, bluegrass, and country traditions with thrilling rock energy, and from the sound of things, their upcoming album Babel will deliver the same delicious treats.
“I Will Wait” would sound at home on Mumford’s first album, with its driving guitar and soaring harmonies. But as many writers have noted, the track polishes that sound with excellent production, and it adds drums to give things more weight. The lyrics are pretty vague, but they seem to be about a man who has come back home to his lover after a long journey (or perhaps some infidelity). Now that he’s returned, he’s promising he will wait for his lover forever, that he’s ready to be steady and true, to be “a tethered mind freed from the lies.”
“I Will Wait” just got released yesterday, and it’s already in the Itunes top 5. Meanwhile, the number one song is “Home” by Phillip Phillips, who won American Idol this year. “Home” was his coronation tune, and it made the top ten when it debuted a few months ago. But now, since it’s being used in a lot of Olympics coverage, it has roared back to life. (Last week, it sold over 200,000 copies, and it’s on track to do that again this week.)
I stopped watching Idol several years ago, so honestly, I didn’t pay attention to this song until it the Olympics. And what do you know? It sounds like a Mumford and Sons tune!
And let me tell you, when I first fell for Mumford back in early 2010, I never thought they’d be so popular that they would influence the debut single of an American Idol winner.
This is the only Idol coronation song I’ve liked since Clay Aiken’s “This Is the Night,” and even that song sucks a little. (I just like Clay’s vocals on it.) More to the point, this is only Idol song that just sounds like a song, instead of a marketing tool designed to “inspire” me. Good on everyone who made it happen. Phillips has said his own music won’t sound like this, but I hope he’s reconsidering. If he produces an album as good as this song, then he might join Kelly and Carrie as Idols who can actually sustain careers.
Mark Blankenship tweets as @IAmBlankenship. He’s from Tennessee, so he will always have a soft spot for country-bluegrass rock music.