PROFILE: Will Passenger “Go” On To The U.S.?

Driving his way around the world.

Driving his way around the world.

Seems like for at least the past few years, we’ve always had an international solo act that writes and sings their own material and dominates the charts with a breakup anthem that you just can’t escape. In 2011, it was Adele‘s “Rolling In The Deep”. In 2012, it was Gotye‘s duet with Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Both sold bucket loads and won awards for their compositions, even if each act didn’t have the same level of success after their signature songs. While we have acts like Ed Sheeran and Emeli Sandé climbing the national surveys today, I’m inclined to think that there may be another act in the wings waiting to breakout and attain that same level of success. With that, let me introduce you to the singer and song that may do it: Passenger and his international hit, “Let Her Go”.

Passenger is a one-man band, 28-year-old British singer-songwriter Mike Rosenberg. He started performing at age 16. Rosenberg previously fronted a band baring the same name that broke up in 2009, and he decided to carry the name with him as he began his solo career that same year. His first albums came and went with little notice, but it’s his third album, All The Little Lights, that seems to have everyone interested him. (It’s been out in the U.S. since late August of last year via Nettwerk Records.) A first single, “The Wrong Direction”, didn’t chart in any territory, but his second release, the aforementioned “Go”, became a major hit in Europe beginning in the summer of 2012. It’s already gone to #1 in Austria, Sweden and The Netherlands and now it’s securely at #1 on iTunes in Australia, which will likely take it to the top of the ARIA Singles Chart there. (UPDATE: It rose 23-2 in its second week on the chart, but is still #1 on iTunes.) In total, it’s charted in over a dozen countries so far, most within the top ten. His album has also been a top ten seller in countries like Germany and Ireland. He recently toured in Australia and New Zealand as the opening act for Ed Sheeran and is now on his own headlining tour in the same region. How fast those things seem to grow.

As for the song itself, it’s a really pretty one. It has a minimal arrangement, at times entirely a capella, but is still commercial sounding in its own way. What really drives the song is that Rosenberg has a really distinctive voice, one that would especially stand out here, but in a good sense. It sort of reminds me of a mix of Ben Howard and Paolo Nutini, both of whom have had some degree of success here. It’s one of those songs you just want to listen to if you’re feeling down and can’t shake the memories of an old flame. In fact, that’s reflected in the lyrics pretty elegantly: “You see her when you fall asleep/But never to touch and never to keep.” As the expression goes, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. You realize that you need some essential quality, but it doesn’t happen until after it’s gone. He can put it better than I can: “You only need the light when it’s burning low/Only miss the sun when it starts to snow/Only know you love her when you let her go.” It’s a song that can touch a lot of people, like “Rolling” and “Somebody” did during their respective years in the spotlights. Watch out for Passenger to fill that void at some point.

So, what happens from here? It may be that the sudden sales in Australia translates into Nettwerk promoting “Go” to both Canada and the United States later this spring. It could be longer. It’s currently being considered for only Triple A radio here, but that could easily be expanded. Regardless of what it happens, it will happen, and then maybe you’ll be tired of it by the 200th time you hear it on the radio. For now, it’s a fresh sound that may be the next to pop on the mainstream circuit. You may “let her go”, but don’t let this one do the same.

Download “Let Her Go” on iTunes. / Download All The Little Lights on iTunes.

Are you already enjoying Passenger’s music? Think he can break the U.S. market successfully? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter: @AdamFSoybel.

UPDATE: “Let Her Go” goes for adds at hot adult contemporary radio on April 29! Here’s to a great U.S. run for it.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

9 responses to “PROFILE: Will Passenger “Go” On To The U.S.?

  1. Hey Adam, i would like to use your article on Passenger in a ad for US radio, Please let me know how i can contact you. Best, Div

  2. Sue Sheehy

    Hi there. Passenger’s ‘All the Little Lights’ album has just pushed Timberlake off the No. 1 album spot on Australian iTunes. Full of great songs! Been following Passenger a couple of years & think he’s headed for (and deserves) huge success. Funded his albums through busking, and still busks for the love of it.

    Good to see another great review, though. Thanks.

  3. Passenger is an amazing talent! Saw him a few months back opening for Ed Sheeran in Toronto and then he headlined his own tour with BC artist Joshua Hyslop. I think he is starting to gain some momentum in North America, of course his popularity is more obvious in Europe with all his festivals. His music is storytelling and art wrapped into a lovely package. I love finding artists before they breakout and I’m excited to see what happens with Passenger and hopes that he gets the recognition he truly deserves! All his albums are fantastic and it doesn’t hurt that I got to meet him!

  4. Janet

    Please come to the USA. We are waiting for you. We love you too.

  5. Pingback: Adam’s Top 100 of 2013: 60-41 | POP! Goes The Charts

  6. Pingback: Adam’s Top 100 of 2013: #1, Passenger – “Let Her Go” | POP! Goes The Charts

  7. love,love, love his songs!

Leave a Reply to nicoleboczan Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.