William Michael Morgan has been keeping us on our toes lately, releasing three separate songs without a ton of fanfare, leaving us guessing to which one may materialize into a bona fide new single, and if and when we may hear about a new record where these songs are coming from. Well it turns out there is a method to this William Michael Morgan madness: he’s testing us to see what he thinks fans want to hear.
Morgan started by releasing the very modern-sounding and radio-friendly “Tonight Girl” a few weeks ago. Then he did a virtual 180 two weeks later with the pretty traditional and slightly pointed in message “Brokenhearted,” bemoaning the lack of sad songs in modern country. Then on November 9th he released the song “Talking To A Girl,” which is kind of in the middle. Morgan co-wrote “Talking To A Girl” with Bobby Pinson and Shane Minor, and out of the three songs it’s perhaps the most personal. Morgan went through dissolving an engagement in 2017, and “Talking To A Girl” is about getting back on your feet.
According to William Michael Morgan, the reason the three songs have been released in pretty rapid succession, but none of them have been selected as a single just yet is because his camp wants to gauge fan feedback to decide which direction to go.
“With our first three releases off the debut record, we didn’t get a chance to really see what people were liking more. We just did the songs and put the album out,” Morgan tells The Boot. “I guess that works, and it’s always been a way to do it, but we started figuring out that when people come to shows, they might like this song a little more, or they might really want to hear that one. So it was like, ‘Why don’t we let them decide?'”
So the plan is to take these three songs released already (or more), see which ones fans like the best, and make some decisions from there.“They’re the ones who are gonna come to a show. They’re the ones who are gonna stream or buy our songs, wear our T-shirts and our hats. That’s the people you wanna make happy,” Morgan says. That means you have a say so in what we may hear from William Michael Morgan next.
At the moment, the first song “Tonight Girl” is in the lead as far as consumption compared to the other two, but it also had a two week head start, so it may take a while to hash out which track finds the greatest reception. On Spotify for example, “Tonight Girl” has about 321,000 plays, while “Brokenhearted” has about 221,000 plays at the time of posting. The just-released “Talking To A Girl” has 16,000 plays.
Certainly if Saving Country Music had an opinion on the matter, songs such as “Brokenhearted” and “Talking To A Girl” would be the type of material we’d want to see from William Michael Morgan. But as a mainstream, major label-signed artist, Morgan has to walk a tightrope. He needs to endear himself to country radio, and wow crowds he may open for on tour. As one of mainstream country’s few traditional-styled up-and-comers, it makes the fate of William Michael Morgan much more important than the music itself.
It’s also an important question to ask whether the best strategy wouldn’t be to just release the most honest expressions straight from the heart, data be damned, and try to get the world to bend to your musical will as opposed to vice versa? But at least this way, fans can pipe up and let Morgan know what they want to hear, as opposed to waiting to hear what radio will accept.
William Michael Morgan says his next record is about half way done, and he’ll be heading into the studio again soon.