Arts and Entertainment

Sing to Me Instead, and So Will I

Ben Platt’s new single “So Will I” and a reflection on his musical career.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A spotlight appears onstage. The crowd cheers ecstatically, then quiets down. Ben Platt sits at the piano, plays a few chords, and blesses us with his beautiful, soulful voice. “Usually when I take a stage such as this one, I’m disguising myself as a very strange Mormon missionary, or a bizarre magician, or a kid with a broken arm,” he tells the audience at the beginning of his concert. A single line captures the highlight of his Broadway career, and the crowd goes wild.

The 26-year-old actor, singer, and songwriter began his theater career as a child in a Broadway production of “The Music Man.” In college, he participated in theater productions such as “Hair” but later dropped out to commit to his role in “The Book of Mormon.” His Broadway performance as Elder Arnold Cunningham, the “strange Mormon missionary,” received praise from critics. But Platt’s big break came with “Dear Evan Hansen,” the 2017 Tony award-winning musical.

Evan Hansen, a high school senior struggling with social anxiety, is a very emotionally consuming role, not mentioning the three wrenching solos he has to belt out onstage. Platt not only showcased his extensive range and terrifying vocals, but also captured the conflict and desperation of Evan’s character, allowing traces of tears and heartbreak to cut through his voice. Platt himself had struggled with anxiety, a challenge he strived to express in his debut studio album, “Sing to Me Instead,” and later in his newest single “So Will I.”

“Sing to Me Instead,” Platt’s first studio album, was released in March 2019 in which he opens up, letting audiences into his troubled soul. His album celebrates and accepts the trials of anxiety, relationships, and heartbreak he has gone through. The songs explore the range of his emotional growth, revealing themes of struggle and inner turmoil that resonate with listeners. The authentic lyrics and soft, simple melodies of “Grow As We Go” and “Hurt Me Once” make it easy for anyone to relate to his challenges. Through “Sing to Me Instead,” Platt demonstrates both the highs and lows of his personal growth. He contrasts his hardships with more upbeat lessons in “Honest Man” and “Older,” never losing his soulful sincerity.

Though Platt’s striking vulnerability and raw emotions are constant throughout the album, he never ceases to captivate listeners with his emotional complexity. With the bluesy piano accompaniment of “Ease My Mind” and the infectious, rhythmic instrumentals of “Bad Habit,” the lyrics remind us that these are not straightforward love ballads. Platt reveals his anxiety and fears in both songs, agonizing over insanity in “Ease My Mind” and brooding over a lost relationship in “Bad Habit.” His brutal but beautiful honesty touches our hearts and entices us to appreciate his true spirit and authentic character. In addition to his effective emotional delivery, his magical storytelling in songs such as “Run Away” make the album compelling and truly timeless. In “Run Away,” he tells a story of faithfulness passed down from a couple to their child, a powerful use of repetition revealing how familial love continues across generations. The sweet, simple melody and soft piano accompaniment set a gentle and honest tone with which Platt candidly expresses his feelings, the perfect way to end his album.

His most recent single, “So Will I,” released on May 8, captures the powerful storytelling and the emotional, soulful musical style from his studio album. There is, however, new hope and confidence in the lyrics, as Platt addresses the struggles with anxiety, doubt, and loneliness he explored and expressed in “Sing to Me Instead” and through his character in “Dear Evan Hansen,” and conveys words of support to his listeners. The song uses a narrative tone and combines the gentle melody from “Older” and the same tender, rocking tunes from “Ease My Mind.” Platt’s soft, soothing voice, soulful vibrato, and powerful high notes reach inside our hearts and easily move us. The lyrics are especially resonant during quarantine, when the world is upside down, and we are separated from people we love for an uncertain amount of time. Listening to Platt’s voice will make you close your eyes and wholeheartedly believe his words of support, uplifting and comforting you.