Rachel Platten wrote “Fight Song” at a dark moment in her career — a career that's spanned over a decade.
“I’d been trying to make this career happen for quite a long time, and it seemed like a lot of doors were closing, there weren’t a lot of reasons to keep going,” she explains. “But something in me, this tiny little voice would not let me give up, and I don’t know what it was. I think I made this decision that I just loved making music, and it didn’t matter what level I got to do it on, and ‘Fight Song’ was this declaration that I’m going to keep going, and I’m going to keep believing in myself, even if it seems like it’s impossible.”
That spirit is evident in “Fight Song,” one of the hottest songs of the summer. So hot, in fact, that Platten was invited to join Taylor Swift's star-studded 1989 tour. “She told me that she loved ‘Fight Song,’ that she loved the message. And obviously, I was so excited, it was really thrilling. And then she asked if I’d come sing with her the next week, and I was like, ‘Of course! I’ll totally, that would be unbelievable!’”
Swift is one of many fans. The song, which was released independently, started to gain traction after it was played on an episode of Pretty Little Liars last December. Things really started taking off, though, when a Baltimore station added it to their rotation as part of a breast cancer marathon.
The reaction, says Platten, was instantaneous. “It started Shazam-ing in the top 10 in Baltimore, which is pretty insane, after three spins. A lot of people started paying attention like, ‘Maybe we counted this out, but fans are telling us differently, maybe reaction is telling us differently.’”
The song, which is currently at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 (right under Swift’s “Bad Blood”), has earned fans from all walks of life. Thanks to its use in the promo for the Supergirl TV series, it feels a bit like a feminist anthem, but Platten shies away from that label — though not because she doesn't consider herself a feminist.
“That word is such a hot word these days, and I think it’s taken on meaning that is so strange, because all it means is that you love and support women, and support being a strong, powerful woman. So if it wasn’t such a hot issue, then I would be screaming it from the mountaintops,” she says. But she doesn’t think the song needs to be gendered. “I think it’s an anthem not just for women, but for everyone. It seems to be crossing boundaries and affecting men too, and boys too.
“I don’t want to limit it to just feminism,” she continues. “I think it’s too small for what the song is doing. It’s kind of reminding us all, and we all have buried dreams, and we all have fears, and we all have things that we think are impossible. That’s not just solely a women’s issue.”
That sentiment is echoed in the title of Platten’s tour with Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri. Platten is the opening act for the “Girls’ Night Out, Boys Can Come Too” tour, which stops at the Greek Theatre this Thursday. Platten booked the tour in March, long before “Fight Song” became a breakout hit, but she doesn't mind being the opener.
“I’m really honored to be able to get to be on a bill with them,” she says of her tourmates. “It still feels really like a perfect bill, because they stand for what I stand for, which is self-empowerment, and accepting yourself, and I love the message that we all spread.”
Platten is still a bit surprised by her own success. “Everything’s happened so fast that people keep asking me, ‘What does it feel like?’ And I haven’t really had a chance to sit and process it all yet,” she says. “Mainly, I just feel gratitude — massive, massive amounts of gratitude that my dreams came true. … I worked so incredibly hard, it feels right that this is happening, and it feels deserved, and I’m so proud that I didn’t give up.”
More than that, though, she’s in awe of the effect “Fight Song” has had on people from all walks of life, which she tracks through a hashtag that fans use to talk about how they’re overcoming their personal struggles. “If you go on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook and look up #myfightsong, it’s just unbelievable how many people are sharing their stories and being brave, and talking about things that we usually keep under wraps. And that makes me so proud, that I can help people find their voice.”
Rachel Platten appears at the Greek Theatre with Colbie Caillat and Christina Perri on Thursday, Aug. 20.