Dressed in a white robe and oozing sensuality as well as spirituality, the R&B dynamo previewed several songs from the album for a small crowd at Red Bull’s Studios in Los Angeles. Promoting the event via social media a week in advance and alerting fans to RSVP promptly, Miguel gave them a chance to experience his new music in an intimate setting. “Must wear all white,” he requested on the invite (and most everyone heeded).
Monday’s set list included lead single “Coffee” — the video for which was screened at the event ahead of its Tuesday (June 16) release — as well as new tracks “Leaves,” “Waves,” “Face the Sun” and “Hollywood Dreams.” Miguel made some of those tracks and others available on Monday night via iTunes as part of aWildheart pre-order. The audio for many of the songs is also available on Miguel’s YouTube channel.
At the Red Bull concert, which was branded the “Wildheart Experience” and was Periscoped by Miguel, he channeled his inner preacher and talked about the need to transcend “programming” in order to reach greatness.
“We just kind of forget [about our dreams] because of all the pressure — mostly from society — to conform to their idea of what’s good for us. But we all really know what’s good for us…we all wanna face the sun,” he said before launching into the song of the same name, which features Lenny Kravitz on the album version.
Later, when discussing the soul of Wildheart, he elaborated on the idea of programming as spiritual interference. “We are facing programming whether we know it or not and it is very subconscious — it’s on television, it’s from our friends sometimes, sometimes it’s from our relatives telling us that we can’t, that it’s not possible, and I’m here to tell you that you f–king can. I’m here to tell you that you will. But it all starts by taking the time, the solitude to figure out what it is that you really want in this life. What do you believe in? What do you stand for? You see the moment we all realize what we stand for, the easier it is to mute the bulls–t. That’s what Wildheart is about. Mute the programming. Transcend.”
As in the past (more so on 2012’s critically acclaimed and Grammy-nominated Kaleidoscope Dream than on his 2010 debut All I Want Is You), Miguel’s sound eschews traditional R&B and ventures into rock territory with a confident stride. The smoky “goingtohell,” for instance, opens with the roar of a motorcycle and then rides off into a haze of distorted guitars and fiery drums.
As a whole, Wildheart carries with it a strong sense of Miguel’s identity as a proud Angelino born with a rebellious, creative spirit, and as one who has put in time and work toward his moment in the sunset. Songs like “Hollywood Dreams,” “NWA” (featuring Kurupt), “The Valley,” and “Leaves” all feature the city as the backdrop to a great love story, an ever-evolving sense of self-discovery, and, in some cases, a struggle. To the delight of his Latino fans, Wildheart also features one Spanish-language song called “Destinado a Morir” — a nod to Miguel’s Mexican side, which he carries with pride.
Miguel ended the showcase with fan favorite “Adorn” before thanking the crowd for listening to his message of transcendence. “Never mind us performing up here. The reason why I wanted everyone in this room is because I wanted to speak to you directly. The music was just the hook, the bait.”
A perfect hook, indeed.
This article was originally published on billboard.com.