Introduction: Dominic Fike, a Florida-native from Naples, released his first full length album, What Could Possibly Go Wrong, Friday, July 31, 2020. The long-awaited album has been in the works over the last three years. In the past, Fike has worked with artists such as Kevin Abstract, Yeek, Omar Apollo, and Kenny Beats. This album was produced by Julian Cruz and The Roommates. It reflects on themes of the realities of fame, the importance of family, and all the other experiences with drugs and love in between.
Come Here – The opening track of the album starts with a bang. With a heavy alternative rock guitar instrumental under distorted vocals, this song is an attention-grabber. Fike posted a music video on his Instagram with the song in the background a day before the release of the album. Just like the title of the album, I feel like the songs throughout it are filled with lots of questions, in this case, “so why can’t you tell me / what you think I should do?” From the rest of the lyrics, I think these may be questions to a love interest.
Double Negative (Skeleton Milkshake) – This next track has a lighter pop sound compared to the previous song. Fike’s vocals are softer as he sings of how people can change right before your eyes, and sometimes that means they may not be fit for the next step. A standout lyric was, “Maybe if you feel out of place / It’s because you are.” Depending on the season of life, I think listeners can relate to both parts of the song, watching friends change or being the one that feels out of place.
Cancel Me – An upbeat song with brutally honest lyrics, this track lifts the veil between the “glamour” of Hollywood, and the realities of tour life and a quick rise to fame. Fike sings that he wants to be “cancelled” so that he can spend more time with his family. Right before he released the album, he previewed a snippet of the music video of this song which was filmed by his little sister, Apollonia. He told fans in the caption, “it comes out at the same time as my album but watch this first then listen.” I watched the video before listening to the album, and although it isn’t the first song on the album, I think it sets the foundation for where Fike’s heart is, and that’s with his family. The lyrics and video work together to set Fike off of a pedestal and relate him back to everyday people, the type who make real mistakes and have real families. I find, “so I can quit wearin’ this mask,” to be a funny line just because of COVID-19, and it has you wondering if he means a face mask, or a metaphorical mask of a different Hollywood persona.
10x Stronger – I think songs that can evoke emotions with minimal lyrics are some of the best. In “10x Stronger,” Fike has a single line that says, “I pretend I’m ten times stronger for you.” The orchestral sounding melody was played by a string trio while recording in New York. The song gives the feeling of security and hopefulness.
Good Game – The beginning of this song gives me a slight 80s dream-pop vibe. It’s one of those songs you can just sway back and forth to. I think Fike’s vocals shine through with lots of clarity in this song. Listeners can hear him crooning lyrics that seem to be from the point of view of someone from his past, many think it’s his dad’s perspective. Whoever the narrator is tells him, “well, don’t you become your daddy.” Fike has talked about his father in past songs such as “Babydoll” from his Don’t Forget About Me, Demos, saying, “lookin’ for somebody different ‘cause my daddy was a pimp.” Some of the other lyrics in “Good Game” are more tender like, “Sometimes, I wanna save you from everything / like your problems and the dangers of everyday life (Do you remember?)” Overall, the song has a really sweet message and seems to come from a caring point of view.
Why – This song was originally teased in May of last year in an Instagram post. It’s a groovy little track where Fike asks a girl, “why?” – why she lets people waste her time, why she pays too much rent, why she isn’t paying more attention to what’s going on around her. A little section in the second verse that stood out was, “how many warnin’ signs ‘til it hits you, darling? / gravity’s your friend / you fall out of touch sometime / but your history calls you back to it again.” I think this could mean that people have to make mistakes for themselves to learn from them. You can’t want more for someone than they want for themselves. The drums in this song were done by Ryan Raines, Fike’s drummer on his first tour, Rain or Shine.
Chicken Tenders – The seventh track was the first single released for What Could Possibly Go Wrong. Fike released “Chicken Tenders” on June 5, 2020. This alternative pop-meets-R&B song shares a similar sound to the song that brought Fike to fame, “3 Nights”. “3 Nights” was a global hit that filled the waves of alternative radio stations last summer, and I think “Chicken Tenders” will have a similar effect. The song is catchy and upbeat as Fike sings about a hotel room love story. Though the lyrics are pretty casual, there was lots of sentiment behind the phrase on the single’s cover art. “If you can’t get out of it, get into it,” was the phrase used by designer Clayborne Bujorian. Bujorian talks about how his mom would tell this phrase to him everyday when he was going through a rough year. I think it’s cool how Fike’s entire team works together to bring something that’s meaningful to them to each project. The music video opens with the same phrase, and was directed by Reed Bennett.
Whats For Dinner? – This next track has more of an alt-R&B sound to it. The lyrics get a bit more vulnerable as Fike seems to be singing about the importance of communication in a relationship, especially when things get rocky. He sings, “I just got back from the gastroenterologist / he told me I can’t drink, so now I be high and sh*t / and all insensitive.” This shows the effects drugs can have on someone’s day-to-day life. I think my favorite line is, “Would it be something worth repair or / am I just scared for ya?”
Vampire – If Twilight ever gets an L.A. themed remake, “Vampire” needs to be on the soundtrack. In this pop-track, Fike compares people in the Hollywood night scene to vampires, “we’re all food for the bloodsuckers / movin’ under the moonlight / like the vampires.” I think he means that lots of people in Hollywood will use you just to get something they need without reciprocating any sort of genuinity.
Superstar Sh*t – This track has more of a sad lofi-pop sound to it. In the first verse, fans will recognize him referring back to “King of Everything” from DFAMD when he sings, “forget how good it feels to be alone, you dig? / watch a movie on your phone, for real.” I think this song might be about a break up, but most likely someone leaving your life. The final line just really hits when Fike sings, “I try to force a smile, but can’t deny that.”
Politics & Violence – This was the second single released for What Can Possibly Go Wrong. On July 7, 2020, this song was released with one of the most beautiful music videos I’ve ever seen. The video was directed by Reed Bennett and produced with Psycho Films. It took over a month to capture the changing night skies of Scotland as the lyrics were projected over castles and mountains. The song starts with orchestral strings as Fike sings once again about what Hollywood counts as “success.” The beat switch after the bridge is so clean as Fike transitions to rapping about an experience with a girl, but then the real reason why he does what he does – for his family. A line that seems motivational for the year would probably be, “ride ‘til the wheels fall off,” just because it sort of implies to keep trying even when things feel out of control.
Joe Blazey – Out of all the songs on the album, I find myself replaying this one the most. There seems to be tension between Fike and whoever he’s singing to/about. The person reminds him of his past, and the good times, but also seemed to cause a lot of grief in lyrics like, “I got a heartache / I’m in a darkplace.” My favorite part is what sounds like a phone call between Fike and his producer and friend, Julian Cruz. You’ll hear Fike tell Cruz he just had a panic attack, and Cruz checks up on him to make sure all is well. There’s something grounding about hearing the reassurance from a friend, and I think parts like these just make the album more intimate.
Wurli – This alt-pop song does not hold back from being completely honest as Fike sings about a toxic relationship. Instrumentally, this song is fitting for being close to the end of the album. It sort of has the same sound as something you would hear at the end of a movie. A part of the chorus that really just stands out is, “this is not love, I’m a glorified doorstep / stickin’ my foot out for you / and that’s not all I would do.” It shows that some people in a relationship would go the extra mile for people that just walk all over them.
Florida – Dominic Fike worked with Kenny Beats to make the final track to the album. It reminds me a lot like Frank Ocean’s final songs in his albums with the overlapped recordings and vocal distortions. Fike seems to be singing to everyone from his home state, Florida, and paints a picture of where he is now before he raps about where he started. He says, “every kid with me grew together, I’m proud of us / from a sunken place to the top / and look at what we accomplished.” Before the outro, he finishes with, “I just hope you think about everything when you play this song / don’t take that sh*t too serious,” a reminder all of us can use during these ever-changing times.
Summary: Everyone should be able to find a song they enjoy with the versatility of this album. From orchestral string pieces to alternative rap and rock, this album has a little bit of everything. It was really interesting to hear parts of Dominic Fike’s backstory and “come-up” through the lyrics of these songs. After listening to this, it would be difficult to say Fike isn’t a rising staple of Gen-Z music. I would rate this album a 4.5/5 Spinnaker Sails. While I loved every song individually on this album, something about the placement or order is what draws me back from giving it a 5/5. This album will most definitely be on repeat for the rest of the year though!
Standout Tracks: “Come Here,” “Superstar Sh*t,” “Politics & Violence,” and “Joe Blazey.”
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