Music fans know how versatile Riker Lynch is. Whether he’s performing as a solo artist or as part of a group, he knows how to win over an audience. Not only that, but he’s proven himself to be great at navigating the reality TV space (as a Dancing with the Stars runner-up in season 20) and he’s also a strong actor (see his recent horror film Terror Eyes). Put it all together and he’s the perfect candidate for NBC‘s new competition American Song Contest.
Representing his home state of Colorado, Riker not only impressed the judges with his first-round performance but also had strong turnout in the popular vote. Before he aims to do it again in the semi-finals, I reconnected with him to discuss what interested him about the American Song Contest competition and what his process was in creating one of the most addictive songs of the season.
Brittany Frederick: Were you interested in American Song Contest because of the idea of representing Colorado? Or did the show approach you to participate, knowing that you’re already a well-established artist?
Riker Lynch: A little bit of all of the above. They wanted my brothers, actually; they wanted The Driver Era to represent Colorado. Long story short, didn’t end up working out. Instead of just turning it down, my manager was like “Well, what about Riker to represent Colorado?” And they were like “We love it. Let’s do it.” Me on the other end, I’m like “Hey, an opportunity to perform and entertain millions of people on a large television show, absolutely.” My purpose is really, I believe, to entertain as many people as possible and hopefully brighten up their day a little bit. So for me, it was a no-brainer.
BF: Since you’ve all been in the music business a long time, as you were coming up with “Feel the Love,” did you bounce any ideas off your brothers at all?
RL: Not really, no. I worked really closely with Andreas Carlsson and Jimmy Jansson, who are a couple of the writers on the song. They’re big songwriters and they’ve had huge hits. Desmond Child is another writer on the song, he co-wrote “Livin’ on a Prayer” for Bon Jovi. He’s got hits as well. These guys are just pros and they brought so much to the table that what I was hearing, I was so happy about. I didn’t really get too many outside opinions other than those guys and my manager.
BF: That’s a lot of talent in one room, but there’s also the very big challenge of crafting a song that has to represent the entire state of Colorado. What was the process that got you guys to this great single?
RL: We just wanted the best song I could possibly have. When we had the rough version of “Feel the Love,” it was just melodies and there was one lyric that was thrown around, which was “It feels so good to be alive.” As soon as I heard that, it was like “Okay, yes. This is where we’re going.” I felt very strongly about it and hopefully the people of Colorado like it as well.
It’s pretty simple for me just because it’s my home state; I’ve been here forever. I lived in California for a while, but I’ve been coming back for holidays and all kinds of things ever since I can remember, and I’m a huge sports fan. The Colorado Avalanche, Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, those will always be my teams.
BF: Your qualifiers performance was the biggest on the show. What kinds of conversations did you have with the American Song Contest producers? Because it feels like you blew the effects budget with all that was in that performance.
RL: I’ve got to tip my hat to the creative team—Paul and Jerry. I had a 30-minute conversation with them about everything that I wanted to represent, everything that I wanted to show that I can do, and the amazing energy that I wanted to bring with the song and with the performance. Then they went off and they did their thing. They sent me a mock up of what the stage was going to look like and I was like, “This looks great.” And then when we showed up on the day, it was even better than on paper. It was just fascinating.
BF: Did you have any idea that you were going to wrap up the entire episode?
RL: They were like “We want this to close the night,” and that’s what I was worried about the whole time. (laughs) I don’t want to wait around and have to perform last, because that’s a lot of time just waiting, and of course one of the producers comes up to me and she’s like, “That’s fun. I think we’re going to close with it.” I got to close the show, which was definitely an honor—at the same time as I was like, “Oh man, I don’t want to go last.” But I think it worked out. We went out with a bang and I’m very happy with it.
BF: You have so many different directions that your career has gone in. Do you have other things in the works right now, or things coming up that American Song Contest viewers can look forward to later?
RL: I try to focus on one project at a time; right now it’s all American Song Contest. I’m taking really good care of my body and really good care of my vocal chords. I’m singing a lot, making sure that I’m in top performance shape. But next we’ve got some new music that’ll come out after the show. That’ll be very exciting. The music video for “Feel the Love” is coming out as well.
Last year I wrote and directed a short film that I also starred in called Aliens on Halloween that’s been doing the festival circuit. We’ve been getting lots of selections and we’ve won a handful of awards, which we’re very grateful for. We’re getting a little word of mouth going around about me as a filmmaker, which has been great. I’m going to be making my first feature film sometime in the next 12 months. I wrote it and we’re talking to producers and some big actors right now to play the lead, [while] I’ll be playing the best friend. Lots of things on the horizon, but totally focused on American Song Contest right now.
American Song Contest airs Mondays at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
Article content is (c)2020-2023 Brittany Frederick and may not be excerpted or reproduced without express written permission by the author. Follow me on Twitter at @BFTVTwtr and on Instagram at @BFTVGram.